There are no transparent fiscal regimes in Africa governing oil, gas and mining in Africa, an unfortunate trend on the continent which has condemned indigenous people at the hands of foreign investors who come to take away the continent’s natural resources, a cultural leader told a meeting in Accra, Ghana.
This was said by the Paramount Chief of Western Nzema Traditional Area, Nana Awulae Annor Adjaye, during the opening session of this year’s Summer School on Oil, Gas and Mining Governance (Anglophone Africa Regional Extractives Industries Knowledge Hub), organized by Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) in Accra, Ghana.
The Summer School has attracted about 45 participants from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Cameroun and Botswana. Participants are mainly from civil society, media, academia and government bodies.
While what the cultural leader raises is not a new issue, it points to a continent doing everything wrongly as it extracts and depletes its natural resources while indigenous people are subjected to utter poverty, one meal a day, dropping out of school and loss of land. This comes about because government and companies mismanage revenues generated and indigenous people don’t benefit directly or indirectly.
The Paramount Chief described as ‘nonsense’ rhetoric efforts to promote good governance and democracy because they were introduced by the same people (colonialists) who have returned to ‘steal your wealth’. He said it was ‘disheartening’ to see that Africa has resources but ‘you don’t know where the money from these resources go’.
He said that 80% of land in Ghana belongs to chiefs ‘but you wonder what is happening to the owners of the land’. “Our people have remained poor, some eat once a day and children are dropping out schools,” he stated, pointing fingers to governments, CSOs and other people facilitating the return of colonialists who plundered Africa in the past.
“People in the extractive industry are not from Africa, they have come back to steal your wealth,” he alleged, adding that Africa received political but not economic independence because people who partitioned Africa had an agenda. An agenda they are pursuing now by hunting down the continent’s oil, gas and minerals.
The Paramount Chief faults the failure to implement the right laws to track revenues, mitigate environment issues because countries have structures that work. Some of these governments lack the expertise to negotiate contracts with the moneyed oil companies.
“We have closed our eyes, we don’t talk, and when we talk we don’t walk the talk,” he said before encouraging participants at the Summer School to ensure their countries have sustainable livelihoods.”If you don’t do that you are wasting our time,” he sounded.
Emmanuel Kuyole, a consultant working with NRGI explained that to successfully manage natural resources there must be rules, institutions who obey rules and citizens who understand and obey rules. He advised that while deciding to extract natural resources, countries must prepare, build capacity and get the right information.
Organizations like NRGI are building capacity among members of the civil society organizations, the media and academia who play an oversight role in keeping government and oil companies in check. While they have the capacity, they can help address the Paramount Chief fears and contribute to having health natural resources extraction.