Recently, oil was discovered in Uganda then Kenya and last week, colossal fields of natural gas have been found out off the coast of Tanzania and Mozambique. Surely, the news on the natural resources findings is hitting East Africa fast and hard! The amount of natural gas discovered is estimated to be sufficient to supply France, Germany, Britain and Italy for at least a year, and probably even more.
It seems, in few years time, East Africa will not only be known by its famous verdant landscape, assorted wildlife and stunning beaches with its coast sprinkled with a countless of resorts that hosts tourists from all over the globe but will be famed to be a producer of oil and natural gas too!
As an outsider of these countries, one would think East Africa will develop quite dramatically with up coming riches to be pocketed. However, as insider, fear of corruption makes us believe otherwise. Most of our leaders are highly corrupt and only they and their allies will benefit from the recent discoveries of these energy resources. We fear the gains of these resources will not bring a new quality of life for the locals in terms of better and improved health care, education resources, transport systems, investments in increasing local food production, etc. Instead, it might even exacerbate the corruption within!
Don’ t get me wrong, I’m happy with for East Africa, but at the same time I’m afraid that these riches will not reach the poor. Why? Because that has been the trend so far in Africa. Take a look at nations with oil for example; Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria…none of these countries has further development and the number of poor people is increasing! Another example is Tanzania with its tanzanite mining…a mineral worth more than diamond and Tanzania is still under-developed with quite a number of poor people. Who is benefiting from the tanzanite? The West and the corrupt leaders in Tanzania!
As long as corruption is existing and prevalent, no matter how much wealth Africa attains, it will not be equally distributed…the corrupt and rich will blossom while the weak and poor will continue to deteriorate financially.