Oil no gift to Africa's poor

2009-08-11 10:42

kalahari.com

Lagos - Nigeria and Angola are Africa's top two oil producers, yet most of their people live in wretched poverty, often in shanties dwarfed by fire-belching derricks.

Corruption has long kept oil revenues from making life better for ordinary people in the two countries, and the growing anger, which swells the ranks of militant groups, creates instability that threatens the world's fuel supply. This week it is drawing the attention of US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as she travels across the continent.

Her visits to Angola and Nigeria underscore the increasing importance the US attaches to African oil as it seeks to reduce its need for Mideast oil. Clinton on Monday was wrapping up a two-day visit to Angola which supplies vast amounts of petroleum and liquid natural gas to the US market - and plans to go to Nigeria later this week on her seven-nation tour.

Clinton stressed the need for greater accountability and transparency, and urged the government of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, in power in the former Portuguese colony since 1979, to adopt a new constitution, investigate and prosecute human rights abuses, and hold promised presidential elections.

Dos Santos "was very positive in his reaction to the points we were making", she told reporters travelling with her.

History of coups

In 2008, the US imported 1.05 million barrels of oil a day from Nigeria - almost as much as it bought from Saudi Arabia, making the West African country its fifth biggest oil source. Angola to the south, was sixth at 468 000 barrels. Overall, Angola this year edged out Nigeria to become Africa's biggest producer.

Big oil revenues are a curse instead of a blessing to ordinary Nigerians and Angolans. Analysts note that petrodollars allow their leaders to ignore foreign critics, unlike other states on Clinton's itinerary that rely on foreign tourism, aid or peacekeepers.

The two nations are nominally democratic, but politicians feel little need to court voters.

Nigeria has a history of coups and the last elections here were marred by voting irregularities and police firing tear gas at lines of voters. In Angola's last parliamentary election, money, alcohol and even cars were dished out and many polling stations didn't open for lack of materials, international observers found. Angola was in civil war from the 1970s to 2002. It has not held presidential elections since the war ended.

Just last week, Global Witness, a London-based watchdog group, reported that several shareholders of a private firm authorised by Angola's state oil company to bid for lucrative contracts have the same names as top current and former Angolan officials, including the state oil company chairman. The officials have not responded to repeated requests from Global Witness and reporters for a response.

Pay-as-you-go politics

"Despite the widespread perception that government corruption at all levels was endemic, there were no public investigations or prosecutions of government officials during the year," said a report this year by the US State Department.

More than two-thirds of 12 million Angolans and more than four-fifths of 150 million Nigerians live on less than $2 a day. Many feel neglected by their leaders.

"They don't care about the small man. Not at all," said Sam Olufemi, selling phone cards amid one of Lagos' perennial traffic jams. "It's pay-as-you-go politics."

Angola has suffered unrest in Cabinda, the main oil-producing region. Human rights groups have accused the military of atrocities and claim government officials have embezzled millions of dollars in oil revenue. The government has denied the charges.

Thousands have been killed over the years in Nigeria's oil-rich Delta, where the military battles criminal gangs by firing into slums from helicopter gunships and militant groups bomb pipelines and kidnap foreigners.

Diarmid O'Sullivan of Global Witness said one way the US Congress could help is by passing the Extractive Industries Transparency Disclosure Act, which would require oil, gas, and mining companies listed on US exchanges to publicly disclose their payments to the governments of countries whose riches they extract.

The bill was introduced in Congress last year but didn't pass. Campaigners are hoping it will be reintroduced this year.

 

- AP

Read more on:    angola  |  nigeria
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Tuesday Mitchells Plain - 19:35 PM
    Road name: M7 Vanguard Drive
    ROADWORKS - traffic restrictions between the R300 and Highlands Drive - expect delays
  • Tuesday Belhar - 17:58 PM
    Road name: Belhar Drive
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Alabama Drive
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nintendo Wii Console

Featuring a remarkable wireless controller experience, the Nintendo Wii console...

From R2999.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is always easier to look out and see what needs changing. Looking in is a lot harder... Today you may need to look at what...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.