This past August, I was fortunate to be part of a regional discussion on East Africa’s budding extractives sector that was convened by Oxfam in Nairobi, Kenya.
The event’s timing and scope stemmed from the different developments being undertaken by partner states in the East African Region, either individually or jointly, to exploit their oil, gas and mineral resources. Uganda has its crude oil refinery and pipeline; Tanzania harbours plans of exporting its natural gas to the Region; Kenya is fast-tracking its crude oil production and also pushing ahead with the LAPSSET project. It is indeed the right time to share knowledge and understand what these developments mean on a national, regional, continental and global level.
Many such discussions have been held across the Region, and I have participated in a number of them, but for me, this one was different simply because it was more solutions oriented. The agenda was crafted in such a way that the participants, who included civil society, high level representation from the Kenyan Government, media and grassroots communities from resource rich areas, contributed solutions to the challenges inhibiting the prosperity of the extractives sector in the East African Region.
Shaping a new, people-centred narrative
Africa is rising. Africa is ready for business. East Africa is the next oil and mining frontier.
These narratives have largely been shaped by the developed world and, to put it politely, are majorly aimed at exploiting the continent’s natural resources to the benefit of the developed world, with some little crumbs for the host countries here and there depending on the politics at play at the time.