Africa: Politics and Societies South of the Sahara

The Stench of Oil in a ‘Republique des Copains’

Posted in African Politics, Chad by ruben eberlein on March 19, 2009

It was supposed to be so different: The World Bank took a lead several years ago on corporate and public responsibility, declaring that Chad’s newly discovered oil wealth will benefit the poor in that Central African country. The Chad-Cameroon Pipeline Project, connecting the oil fields in Doba with the Cameroon coast more than 1000 km away, was the biggest single investment in Africa at the beginning of the 21th century. Six years after the first oil began to flow, the picture is sobering, to say the least.

On a tour throughout Germany, two civil society activists – Arnaud Ngarmian (Bureau d’Études et de Liaison d’Actions Caritatives pour le Développement, Doba region) and Antoine Bérilengar (Centre d’Études et de Formation pour le Développement, N’Djaména) – reported on 19 March 09 in Berlin about the failure of this ambitious initiative. Poverty is on the rise in Chad, and the country is developing all the symptoms of other oil-producing nations like Nigeria or Angola: Consumer prices are flying high, environmental pollution is widespread, security forces and powerholders are acting with impunity.

Their main message for German officials was: Talk straight to your French colleagues as France is the country that has a certain leverage on the government in N’Djaména. It should be pressured to denounce the theft of public resources and human right abuses.

Background information on the Chad-Cameroon Pipeline Project is available at the April edition of African Affairs by Scott Pegg.

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