African oil nations must fight corruption

Sep 30, 2005 02:00 AM

Oil-rich African countries must get rid of their "culture of corruption" if they wanted to attract foreign investment, Eivald Roren, the president of the World Petroleum Council (WPC), said.
"Countries must be entirely transparent... This brings us to the issue of corruption, a special form of cancer which you unfortunately find in many African countries," the WPC president said. "It tends to set the brakes on the investment climate."

Roren said there seemed to be "complete agreement" among the 4,000 delegates who attended the five-day gathering that corruption was a serious problem in oil-rich African countries.
"This is very crucial because it takes time to deal with. It's a certain culture, not only in Africa, but it is here," said Roren.

Eivind Reiten, the chief executive of Norwegian oil and gas company Norsk Hydro, told delegates that corruption costs the world more than $ 1 tn (R 6.36 tn) annually. He said the world's energy industry dealt with ethical dilemmas on a daily basis.
"The demands of business and society are interdependent. Businesses cannot be successful in societies that fail," Reiten said.

South African WPC board member Zellah Fuphe said more funds were being made available to create the right environment for investment in Africa. African oil producing countries provide 8 % of world oil output, with Nigeria leading the pack as the world's 12th-largest producer.
About 85 % of African oil is pumped out of Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Libya and Nigeria, with Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tome and Principe cited as emerging oil players.

But despite the supposed wealth coming from oil, many African countries continue to grapple with crippling poverty. Angola has recently come under scrutiny from the International Monetary Fund, which found that $ 700 mm a year had gone missing over several years.
Angola and Nigeria, which is trying to account for its oil earnings, rank in the bottom 20 on the UN human development index for 177 countries.

Nigerian petroleumand energy minister Edmund Daukoru said his country was committed to fighting corruption.
"By making more information available to the public, I hope civil society will be a better watchdog," Daukoru said.
"Corporate governance of the industry is of critical importance," said South African minerals and energy minister Lindiwe Hendricks.

Source: AFP
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