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Africa | Senegal
Politics | Economy - Development

Senegal President sees light on Africa's oil curse

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade:
«I said to the oilmen, you will be expelled from Africa.»

© afrol News/UN Photo
afrol News, 16 November
- Sometimes people wonder whether oil is a source of blessing or trouble in Africa, as most citizens of oil exploring countries in the continent are yet to tap the benefits of oil. This is evidenced by the recent UN's Development Index that sandwiched oil-rich African countries such as Nigeria bottom of the ladder. The Senegalese President claims to have found a "formula" to counter this.

The poor performance of oil exporting nations clearly indicates that oil revenues either scale over the frontiers of Africa or are being corrupted by African executives. The Senegalese President, Abdoulaye Wade, believes in the first theory and therefore said that oil companies operating in Africa must plough back part of their profits into fighting poverty or risk being expelled from the continent by unrest and turmoil fuelled by inequality.

President Wade, whose country is yet to find oil, described it as "indecent and immoral" that oil giants were pocketing billions of profits from high oil prices while poor oil-importing states continue to have high energy bills.

Mr Wade has coined his own formula - the Wade Formula - which aims to distribute oil profits more equally between oil companies, African oil producing countries and non-oil producing states in the world's poorest continent. "We can create a system where everyone wins," Mr Wade told a recent news conference.

President Wade said he had presented his proposed formula to executives of the major oil companies Chevron and Exxon Mobil in the US last month. The two companies run extensive operations in Africa, particularly sub-Saharan Africa. "The oil executives had accepted my proposal and were willing to see how much could be done to fight poverty in Africa using their oil," he said.

The Senegalese President must be worried about the frequent power cuts and expensive energy supply in his country, which is having adverse negative impact on the economy. Senegal is even proposing alternative means of generating power mainly because the country pays billions of CFA to generate energy for local consumption.

Mr Wade said he had warned oil giants to be wary of the dangers of ignoring poverty in Africa. "I said to the oilmen, you are free to carry on like that if you want. But in the long term, you will be expelled from Africa," he said.

Bit by bit, the Senegalese leader said, societies in African oil producing nations are showing signs of violent rejection of energy companies that fail to share their profits from oil with them. "It has started; bit by bit it will spread."

President Wade, who is receiving strong opposition from his opponents as Senegal warms up for elections next February, says his agenda goes beyond national interest alone.

He believes time is ripe for Africa to have massive and strategic infrastructural projects. He cited an example of having a trans-continental railway linking Johannesburg to Dakar or a road and rail link from Dakar to Djibouti.

"The world has the means to do it, our partners have the means to do it," President Wade said, adding the United States had completed such trans-continental rail projects across its own huge territory in the 19th century. Mr Wade started making these infrastructure proposals to other African leaders as soon as he got elected in 2000, finding sympathy but no one to fund these giant projects.

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