Njei Moses Timah writes:
Most African countries’ petroleum revenue has simply disappeared.
It is my opinion that Kufuor’s elation about this oil find is a little bit naive. As a seasoned politician and African Union (AU) chairman, he is better placed to know that oil and other minerals have contributed more to African backwardness than the want of resources.
These resources have fanned civil wars in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of Congo, Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Chad. Coups and mercenary incursions have occurred in almost all resource-rich African countries. The corruption and graft that follows the discovery of these resources has destroyed the social fabric of many of these so-called oil or mineral producing African countries. Bad governance, weak and inefficient institutions, poor accountability, crime and parasitic state employees (now a hallmark of these countries) have all contributed to chase Africa’s best brains out of the continent. There is no doubt that this brain drain is negatively affecting the competence and the commitment of those left behind to negotiate trade terms with foreign partners and administer these countries.
Timah proposes that the African Union band together to negotiate oil contracts and to stand firm against the predatory exploitation and interference that is sure to come.
The AU should be seriously thinking about how they can negotiate the management of African resources with external powers. The current way of doing things will never move Africa out of backwardness. Leaders of most African countries are usually manipulated, cajoled, bullied or simply bribed to sign unfavorable contracts with foreign partners. Those that have resisted these pressures in the past have simply been “physically removed” or their governments subverted in one form or another.
Oil is the most important commodity in the world today and those that need that commodity most are very powerful nations. China and the United States are not going to fold their arms and allow Ghana to quietly enjoy the proceeds of the over $40 billion worth of oil (less exploration and production costs) that has been discovered. It has never been so in other oil producing African countries. The AU should understand this and accept the reality that many African countries can neither protect their resources from external economic predators nor negotiate fair trading terms with them.
The comments on his article are interesting as well