Africa’s Deepest Concern Is Poverty, Not Climate Change

One section of the Schiller Institute conference of Feb. 4 was dedicated to the development of Africa, and more especially to cooperation with China (see One of the speakers was Ugandan Attorney Elison Karuhanga, an expert in energy law, who gave a very polemical presentation on “Uganda’s Oil Project and Energy Independence”. His country has discovered oil fields having altogether some 6.5 billion barrels of oil, he pointed out, which it fully intends to exploit and develop, in spite of the pressure exerted by the West in the name of fighting “climate change”.

Of course Ugandans are concerned about the climate, he explained, “but we are also concerned, and deeply concerned, about the effects of poverty today”. The argument they are hearing is that the world needs to phase out of fossil fuels, by stopping new investments in oil and gas, which will make them very expensive. Then, the argument goes, “the world will be forced to transition to renewables, once the fossils have been completely out-priced by all methods available to human ingenuity.

That all sounds very nice when you think about it as an activist, when you think about it from a European capital, when you think about it from a rich, developed country. But what does that mean when broken down in real terms? … We have now learned, that a high oil price does not hurt oil companies. 2022 saw a rise in oil prices, and record profits from oil giants. The only people who pay for this transition will be poor people. And in this side of the world — in Africa and in Uganda– we have paid enough. **** OP CUT We have sacrificed enough. We have been guinea pigs for way too long. We cannot continue paying for these transitions. We cannot, on our end, continue to transition from darkness to deeper darkness in a night already devoid of stars, to quote one great American [Martin Luther King].” ****

If no new oil projects are allowed, it would mean that Norway continues to produce 2 million barrels of oil, Saudi Arabia to produce 10 million barrels of oil, and the United States to consume 20 million barrels of oil, while countries like Uganda and Mozambique are prevented from producing. In his view, and that of Africans, until viable alternatives are available, “we must look to fossil fuels to power our world. And in Africa, we are tired of not being powered.”

That is why, Uganda has decided, “come hell or high water, that we are going to develop our energy projects” to achieve energy independence. The recently finalized project includes building a crude oil export pipeline and a refinery. As Elison Karuhanga stressed, “we must both preserve the environment and defeat poverty”.

“And those who are living in the comfort of wonderful palaces, those who are living in the comfort of heated swimming pools and wonderful houses, those who are flying on private jets to moralize and lecture us, we are happy to receive their ideas, but frankly, at this time and on this occasion, we are not willing to follow through with them. We have listened far too long. We have a copious supply of people telling us to follow the lead of the West, and of people who are transitioning. But now, I think it’s becoming ridiculous for us to start taking lectures about our 200,000 barrels of oil, from people who are consuming 20 million barrels of oil; for us to start paying for this transition, when we only contribute 0.003% to global greenhouse gas emissions.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email