Fossil fuel ‘colonialism’ in Africa

By Isaac J. Martin

Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Nov 15 (EFE).- Western companies, banks and governments have been desperately seeking to gain control of fossil fuel resources in Africa, a move described by environmental activists as a new form of “colonialism”.

Caught in an energy crisis in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Europe has started looking for alternative suppliers on the resource-abundant African continent to curtail its dependency on Russian gas imports.

But Africans perceive it differently. They believe Europeans have come to “take advantage” of the territory’s energy resources, according to Omar Elmawi, head of StopEACOP, a global campaign against the construction of the East African Crude Oil pipeline.


“You have to go to the very definition of colonialism. It is coming to people, taking their resources without their permission. That is what is happening here. They are coming to us in the name of civilization, development in this case, and what they are doing is taking our resources,” Elmawi tells Efe at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

In a report issued Tuesday, StopEACOP, Urgewald and more than 30 other NGOs condemned 200 companies for exploring and developing new fossil fuel reserves in Africa such as gas pipelines, coal-fired power stations and liquefied natural gas terminals.

Energy “transition is definitely an important aspect. We need to do this in a way that is less harmful and does not affect the jobs that we have. The good thing is a lot of these projects (…) have not yet been implemented and therefore, there is an opportunity to deal with this problem,” Elmawi explains.

The Kenyan activist explains these new projects in Africa are usually assigned to “expats” from China, Europe and other parts of the world, while “only low-paying, unskilled jobs will be coming to us so we are not necessarily benefitting from the jobs.”

Coal-producing countries like Nigeria and South Africa face the “real issue” of these investments, especially communities living directly next to mines, Urgewald founder Heffa Schuecking explains to Efe.

“People who have been dependent on these jobs need to get a fair deal, have the opportunity to be retrained (…) for new jobs” based on renewable energy, Schuecking says.

She points out that there are 400 abandoned coal mines that are like “ticking time bombs” for the population in South Africa.


According to the report, environmental NGOs revealed that hundreds of companies are seeking fossil fuel expansion projects in 48 of the 55 African countries, with major commercial banks funneling $98 billion into fossil fuel projects.

Among the developers is French oil and gas company TotalEnergies, which gets 25% of its production from Africa and aims to add 2.27 billion oil barrels to its African production.

One of the company’s projects in northern Mozambique has been completely halted, where the newest branch of the Islamic State extremist group has been established.

Fossil fuel exploitation is one of the many reasons why insurgency has grown stronger in this part of Africa, where IS has moved in from Syria and Iraq.

According to Schuecking, Mozambique is the best example of a “hot spot”.

The projects the European energy companies bring to Africa create tensions that “often bring it to an explosion” and can lead to a “human rights catastrophe,” the expert warns. EFE


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