NEGOTIATING RESOURCE SOVEREIGNTY, FUELING CONFLICTS: THE CASE OF WEST AFRICAN GAS PIPELINE PROJECT By Mike Karikpo Programme Manager Energy and Climate Change (ERA) Introduction The West African gas pipeline project is a 681 kilometre onshore and offshore gas transportation project which will run from Nigeria to Ghana. The onshore component of the project is about 57-km and would commence from apoint at Alagbado “T” in Ogun state where it would be linked to the existing Escravos –Lagos pipeline originating in the creeks of the Niger Delta and would transport natural gas to Ghana, Togo and Benin republic. The project is designed to substitute abundant and cheap natural gas from Nigeria for alternate fuels used for power generation, industrial, mining and the commercial sectors of theeconomies of the receiving West African states. Spurs would be built from Togo and Benin to connect to the West African Gas pipeline which would be laid on the sea bed of the Atlantic Ocean along the coastlines of the all four countries. According to the Project Appraisal Document (PAD) prepared by the World Bank to make the case for its participation in the project through the provision of loans toGhana and to the West African Gas Pipeline Company (WAPco) respectively in the form of political risk guarantee loans. Political risk guarantee loans are required by a multinational company against the risk of a breach of contract by a government involved in a contractual agreement with the company. These loans are usually received from the World Bank, the European Investment Bank etc who have thepolitical and economic muscle to insist that countries abide by their contractual obligation even if such countries discover later that such obligations are obnoxious and not in the interest of their countries. Most multinational companies would insist on this loan being taken in countries that are thought to be politically unstable and also facing economic woes. The project also supports theWorld Bank West Africa Regional Integration Assistance Strategy (the RIAS). The objective of the RIAS is to help create an open, unified economic space through the integration of markets in West Africa. The RIAS would define and phase integration efforts focused on key sectors such as energy, transportation and telecommunications. West African Gas Pipeline Project is also expected to compliment theWest Africa power market development project also known as the West African Power Pool (WAPP). All of these proposal are beautiful ideas and may assist in the development of the West African sub-region and place the region in a pole position in its engagement with other regions in Africa and even around the world except for the very important missing link that most of these ideas are coming fromoutside the region and there is little evidence of any serious consultation with the over 174 million people in the four countries which according to the World Bank would benefit from the WAGP project, on the desirability of the concepts/projects, availability of alternative concepts/ideas from within the region and whether they support them. It is also not clear if a significant percentage of theover 240 million population of the West African Subregion are aware of the RIAS or the WAPP apart from a few in high political circles. These regional integration concepts can only be realistically promoted through the
projects being pushed by World Bank, if the Bank shows real commitment to the aspirations of the ordinary citizens of the sub-region and empathize with communities that have beenexploited, degraded and degraded over the last century by the insatiable thirst by corporations and financial institutions from the global north for the rich resources with which nature had endowed these communities.
This top-down-in your face approach can only further the neo-liberal and imperialist foundations of the World Bank and the multinational companies who are not merely content at...
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