10 July 2011 - Last year we reported on Land Grabs in Ethiopia and earlier this year we featured a post on Neo-Colonialism in Africa.
Yesterday,became an independent country poised to become the 193rd member of the . Simultaneous to its creation representatives from multinational corporations have begun to pour into Juba, the capital of the fledgling nation. The number of foreigners arriving is so noticeable that locals have begun to complain.
Foreign powers invading and carving up Africa in order to exploit its land and resources is well-known practice. In the 19th Century the era of European Colonization began in Africa. At that time, the major players were the, Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Belgium. These countries arbitrarily sectioned off areas of the continent without consideration of tribal or familial connection.
In South Sudan representatives from Chinese and Lebanese multinationals and smaller companies from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, and Zambia are a few of the countries seeking to establish a strong hold in the newly formed country. In the wake of the announcement of the nascent state's formation these Neo-Colonialists have begun a process which will ultimately result in a transformation of the country.
Like many underdeveloped areas of Africa, Juba's dirt roads are crowded with pedestrians carrying impossibly large loads on their heads. People transporting firewood, water and produce for sale. They traverse the country via dusty pathways and compete with large horned cows for minimal space to either side. Because inhabitants of the country have been engaged in war and survival they are ill-equipped to work the emerging economy.
Thus, it is a certainty that most of the Southern Sudanese people will be relegated to service level job as domestics, cooks, drivers or resort to criminal activities such as prostitution, drugs robbery and murder. Under colonialism these were the only positions available to the indigenous people and they rarely if ever had the opportunity to advance.
While living inas a child, I recall the slow transformation of the country as the oil wealth poured into its national coffers. Unfortunately, the petroleum companies transferred the profits of the 'black gold' back to their countries of origin and the remainder to government official to ensure continuity of service. Corruption in many is pervasive and an expected cost of doing business.
In Nigeria bribes to government officials are used to encourage them to turn a blind eye to the adverse environmental impact of petroleum pollution to the surrounding territory. When the(BP) oil spill occurred off the coast of Louisiana in the the world was justifiably horrified.
However, on the Nigerian Coastal environment, large areas of the mangrove ecosystem have been destroyed.has also destroyed farmlands, polluted ground and drinkable water and caused drawbacks in fishing off the coastal waters. There has been continuous regional crises in the area as a result of oil spill pollution of the coastal ecosystem.
Between 1976 and 1998 a total of 5724 incidents resulted in the spill of approximately 2,571,113.90 barrels of oil into the Delta region environment. Some major spills in the coastal zone are the GOCON’s Escravos spill in 1978 of about 300,000 barrels, Shell Petroleum Development Corporation’s (SPDC’s) Forcados Terminal tank failure in 1978 of about 580,000 barrels, Texaco Funiwa-5 blow out in 1980 of about 400,000 barrels, and the Abudu pipe line spill in 1982 of about 18,818 barrels (NDES, 1997).
Other major oil spill incidents are the Jesse fire incident which claimed about a thousand lives and the Idoho Oil spill in January 1998, in which about 40,000 barrels were spilled into the environment (Nwilo et al, 2000)." (Source: Niger Delta Today)
Despite these gross violation of human rights and environmental protection, there is rarely any outcry from the global community about these abuses. I distinctly remember walking along the pristine beaches of Tanzania and every so often I would encounter globules of oil washed up on the shore.
As I lifted my gaze from the globules at my feet toward the horizon I saw a mirage like view of a moored oil tanker. The captain and its crew routinely stopped off the Tanzanian coast to clean the tanks and jettisoned the waste into the Indian Ocean. Were this to occur anywhere in the Western world there would be a cacophonous outcry but this is rarely the case in Africa.
Given this track record of egregious violations by petroleum companies operating in Africa we can only hope and watch as South Sudan develops its economy based on its most valuable resource.Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias
- Even China has second thoughts on South Sudan after violence (latimes.com)
- S/Sudan alarmed over pollution from oilfields (en.starafrica.com)
- South Sudan: Colonialism's Dead Hand - Analysis (eurasiareview.com)
- South Sudan fighting resumes (stripes.com)
- S.Sudan seeks technical help from Sudan in oil fields - Reuters (in.reuters.com)