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Africa & oil - July 19

Nigerian Peace Remains Elusive After Oil Region Truce

Dulue Mbachu, Bloomberg
Nigeria’s release of rebel leader Henry Okah and his movement’s announcement of a 60-day cease-fire may not be enough to end the insurgency that has cut crude supply from Africa’s top oil exporter by a fifth.

President Umaru Yar’Adua’s administration dropped charges of treason and gun-running against Okah, 44, releasing him on July 13 from more than a year in jail, as part of an amnesty for rebels announced last month.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, responded by calling a temporary cease-fire and saying it will seek talks with the government. Okah himself isn’t sure he’ll be able to stop the violence...
16 July 2009)

Obama Visits Africa's 'Oil Gulf'

Emira Woods, The Nation
Born of a Kenyan economist father, Obama will go not to his ancestral lands but to Ghana, Africa's newest oil state.

Oil was discovered in Ghana just in 2007. A wide swath of the Atlantic's western shores, the area stretching from Morocco to Angola, is becoming Africa's "Oil Gulf." Oil-producing countries in Africa, including those in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea, now provide 24 percent of US oil imports. Africa has outstripped the Middle East as an oil supplier to America. Increasingly, Africa's oil is being produced offshore.

Off Ghana's deep Atlantic shores, the Texas-based Kosmos Energy already controls the Jubilee Fields, one of the largest oil finds in West Africa in the past decade, which is predicted to hold 1.2 billion barrels of oil. In May 2009 Kosmos began to draw bids for shares of its stake in the oil-rich fields. Global energy players like Chevron Corp, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, China National Offshore Oil Company and British Petroleum--all with a focused eye on Africa, and a bloody record on the continent--are beginning to circle like vultures. After all, the deadline for Kosmos energy bids is July 17, a week after Obama's visit to Ghana...
(12 July 2009)
Emira Woods is the co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies.

West Africa: Another Stab at the 'Resource Curse'

IRIN Africa

Dakar — In Africa billions of dollars from oil, gas and mining revenues go missing, leaving populations dependent on international assistance, according to a new report on natural resource use on the continent.

The report, which details resource management in seven West African countries, was released on 2 July at the launch of West Africa Resource Watch (WARW) institute in the Senegalese capital Dakar.

...But the so-called "resource curse" is man-made and can be reversed, OSIWA executive director Nana Tanko says.

"It is not inevitable that owning natural resources be a curse," Oladayo Olaide, WARW coordinator, said at the launch. "Countries can actually manage their resources in such a way that it becomes a blessing." WARW points to Norway and Canada - which have vast oil and other energy reserves - as examples.

According to the needs assessment report, which WARW says is a starting point for its work, West Africa has a long way to go.

The study gauges seven countries' (Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Niger and Sierra Leone) capacity to manage natural resources in a transparent, accountable, equitable and sustainable way.

...Bishop Akolgo, a member of WARW's technical committee and executive director of ISODEC, a social justice NGO in Ghana, worked on the needs assessment. He said in some countries meetings held as part of the research marked the first time representatives of civil society, media, government and the private sector gathered in one room to discuss natural resource management.

"That was shocking to me because I didn't know it was that bad."
2 July, 2009
From the website: IRIN is..."humanitarian news and analysis, a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs"

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