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Pan African Parliament Must Draw Up Guidelines for Oil Industry

From: "Africa watcher"
Subject: Open and transparent tendering in Africa
Date: Mon, 01 Dec 2003 17:21:25 +0000


May I first complement your organization and website on the work it is doing to highlight and document the extent of neo-colonialist activities in Africa. It is something which is rarely mentioned in the Western media, and something which people like Tony Blair, George Bush and Jacques Chirac among others pretend is not happening, or deliberately turn a blind eye to.

It seems that neo-colonialist exploitation of Africa is every bit as potent as colonialist exploitation was a hundred years ago, and I believe that historians will look back on this current time with the same dismay as they do on the scramble for Africa for example.

One wonders how to put a stop to this exploitation, how to remove the corrupt African leaders who facilitate the exploitation, how to ensure that the maximum amount of money goes to the people of resource rich countries, how to democratize and empower the people of these nations, and how to ensure that resources and profits from resources are not carried off to other nations, but remain in Africa.

I have come up with some ideas myself, which perhaps your organization has done also. My ideas are these;

(1)    I think that the African Union, or its parliament when it is finally up and running must look seriously at the question of tendering for projects and draw up guidelines as soon as possible, so that it is not the highest briber of a government who gains a contract to develop an oil field for example, but rather that tenderer who will benefit the state and people the most.

(2)    There should also be a merging of African oil companies so that they may be able to tender for development of oil resources. As it stands, there does not seem to be a major African oil company who can keep profits within Africa and employ African workforces.

(3)    That pressure be put on foreign governments who may influence the oil companies in question to submit to a fair and open tendering process in Africa, that no deals will be entered into with undemocratic leaders, or unfair tendering processes and that bribery has no part of the equation.

(4)    Finally if there is still no improvement in the way contracts are handed out, that the African Union should consider setting up an organization like OPEC, but also with the right to tender out projects, and thus remove from national governments the sole executive power to distribute contracts.

Western governments have currently and had for some time highly developed guidelines on holding open and transparent tendering processes, something which prevents widespread political corruption and ensures the maintenance of democracy and the maximum return from resources. Norway for example negotiated a deal to ensure that 80% of profits from its gas fields went directly to the Norwegian state and people. This contrasts with places like Chad, Equatorial Guinea or Sudan, where hardly any money accrues to the people and most of the money goes into the pockets of dictators who then arm armies to oppress their people and the people of other nations, as Iím sure you are only too well aware of.

I believe African resources can be used positively for Africa as they currently donít seem to be, and that the best way to do this is through open and transparent tendering processes. Well those are my ideas.


Africa Watcher