African gas and oil community needed

Sep 28, 2009 02:00 AM

Uganda's oil reserves are expected to reach 2 bn barrels. What has been found so far -- 800 mm barrels -- is valued at $ 50 bn (sh 100 tn). That is 15 times the Government's public expenditure this year.
It is now clear that Uganda has more oil than its own market or the markets in the region can absorb. Part of it will need to be exported -- whether as crude oil or refined products. That means a pipeline needs to be built to the sea -- either to Mombasa in Kenya, or Tanga or Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

Political stability is an absolute must when considering the options. Nobody will take the risk of investing in a pipeline that can be sabotaged any time. Uganda has twice in the recent past experienced trade disruption as a result of upheaval in Kenya. This time, the interests involved are too great to leave them to the whims of political hooligans.
On the positive side, oil and gas could become to East Africa what coal and steel were to Europe 60 years ago: a factor of peace and stability.

The "European Coal and Steel Community" was first proposed in 1950 by French foreign minister Robert Schuman as a way to prevent further war between France and Germany. His proposal came after two world wars, initiated by European countries, killed 15 mm and 70 mm people respectively -- the deadliest conflicts in human history.
Schuman's aim was to "make war not only unthinkable but materially impossible". Six nations -- France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands -- signed a treaty to create a common market for coal and steel. Their shared economic interests became so great that war had become unthinkable. It laid the foundation of the European Union.

Our governments should urgently discuss possibilities of jointly processing or exporting the region's resources.
Let us take a leaf from Europe and establish the African Gas and Oil Community. In this way, oil and gas could become a blessing rather than a curse.

Source / New Vision
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