Using Africa’s Resources for Development – Part 1

Title Using Africa’s Resources for   Development – Part 1
Director(s) Uongozi Institute
Date released (year) 2012
Production company Uongozi Institute
Length 39.44mins
Keywords/tags Oil, mining, natural resources, governance
Link to film
Synopsis Prof. Paul   Collier advises how Africa should benefit from mineral, oil and gas   extraction.

The current high prices for minerals, oil and gas offer an opportunity for   resource-rich countries in Africa to transform their economies and thereby   the lives of its people. Yet this ‘golden opportunity’ can be ruined by   corruption, environmental degradation and mismanagement, with benefits   limited to a lucky few.

What policies do governments need to have in place for the responsible exploitation   of minerals, oil and gas? How can African economies prepare themselves to   manage new found wealth? How can governments invest and save for future   generations? How should exploration rights be valued and extraction companies   taxed?

Professor Paul Collier explained his strategy for stimulating economic growth   in developing countries through selling natural resources such as minerals,   oil and gas at an event hosted in Tanzania by UONGOZI Institute on 20   February 2012

Reviews/discussion The Institute of African Leadership for Sustainable   Development, commonly known as UONGOZI Institute, offers training, discussions and resources on   leadership, executive management and strategic thinking to leaders in Africa   engaged in sustainable development.

Uongozi” means leadership   in Kiswahili, and inspiring and strengthening leadership is the core purpose   of our organisation. Based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, UONGOZI Institute is   dedicated to supporting African leaders to attain sustainable development for   their nations and for Africa

We seek to inspire leaders and promote the   recognition of the important role of leadership in sustainable development.   We believe that:

Leadership is the key to achieving   sustainable development

The development of a leader requires   specialised grooming

An African model of leadership is vital for   achieving the most favourable development outcomes for Africa.

The Institute is an independent government   agency established by the Government of Tanzania and supported by the   government of Finland.


Our Vision

A prosperous and equitable Africa through   effective leadership for sustainable development.


Our Mission

To inspire and equip African leaders to   realise their personal and collective potential to deliver sustainable   solutions for African citizens.



BRICS bloc’s rising ‘sub-imperialism’

Is this the latest threat to Africa?

By Patrick Bond

2012-11-29, Issue 608


Like Berlin in 1884-85,   the BRICS Durban summit is expected to carve up Africa more efficiently,   unburdened – now as then – by what will be derided as ‘Western’ concerns   about democracy and human rights.

The heads of state of the   Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) network of governments are   coming to Durban, South Africa, in four months, meeting on March 26-27 at the   International Convention Centre (ICC), Africa’s largest venue. Given their   recent performance, it is reasonable to expect another “1%” summit, wreaking   socioeconomic and ecological havoc. And that means it is time for the first   BRICS countersummit, to critique top-down “sub-imperialist” bloc formation,   and to offer bottom-up alternatives.

After all, we have had some bad experiences at the Durban ICC.

In 2001, in spite of demands by 10,000 protesters, the United Nations World   Conference Against Racism refused to grapple with reparations for slavery and   colonialism or with apartheid-Israel’s racism against Palestinians (hence Tel   Aviv’s current ethnic cleansing of Gaza goes unpunished).

The African Union got off to a bad start here, with its 2002 launch, due to   reliance on the neoliberal New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad)   promoted by Pretoria.

The 2003 World Economic Forum’s African regional meeting hastened   governments’ supplication to multinational corporate interests in spite of   protests.

In 2011, Durban’s UN COP17 climate summit – better known as the ‘Conference   of Polluters’ – featured Washington’s sabotage, with no new emissions cuts   and an attempted revival of the non-solution called ‘carbon trading’, also   called ‘the privatisation of the air’.


Like Berlin in 1884-85, the BRICS Durban summit is expected to carve up   Africa more efficiently, unburdened – now as then – by what will be derided   as “Western” concerns about democracy and human rights. Reading between the   lines, its resolutions will:

– support favoured corporations’ extraction and land-grab strategies;

– worsen Africa’s retail-driven deindustrialisation (South Africa’s Shoprite   and Makro – soon to be run by Walmart – are already notorious in many capital   cities for importing even simple products that could be supplied locally);

– revive failed projects such as Nepad; and

– confirm the financing of both land grabbing and the extension of   neocolonial infrastructure through a new ‘BRICS Development Bank’, likely to   be based just north of Johannesburg where the Development Bank of Southern   Africa already does so much damage following Washington’s script.

The question is whether in exchange for the Durban summit amplifying such   destructive tendencies, which appears certain, can those few of Africa’s   elites who may be invited leverage any greater influence in world economic   management via the BRICS? With South Africa’s finance minister Pravin   Gordhan’s regular critiques of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund   (IMF), there is certainly potential for BRICS to “talk left” about the   global-governance democracy deficit.

But watch the ‘walk right’ carefully. In the vote for World Bank president   earlier this year, for example, Pretoria’s choice was hard-core Washington   ideologue Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Nigerian finance minister who with IMF   managing director Christine Lagarde catalysed the Occupy movement’s near   revolution in January, with a removal of petrol subsidies. Brasilia chose the   moderate economist Jose Antonio Ocampo and Moscow backed Washington’s choice:   Jim Yong Kim.

This was a repeat of the prior year’s fiasco in the race for IMF managing   director, won by Lagarde in spite of ongoing corruption investigations   against her by French courts, because the Third World was divided and   conquered. BRICS appeared in both cases as incompetent, unable to even agree   on a sole candidate, much less win their case in Washington.

Yet in July, BRICS treasuries sent US$100 billion in new capital to the IMF,   which was seeking new systems of bail-out for banks exposed in Europe. South   Africa’s contribution was only $2 billion, a huge sum for Gordhan to muster   against local trade union opposition. Explaining the South African contribution   – initially he said it would be only one tenth as large – Gordhan told   Moneyweb last year that it was on condition that the IMF became more “nasty”   [sic] to desperate European borrowers, as if the Greek, Spanish, Portuguese   and Irish poor and working people were not suffering enough.

And the result of this BRICS intervention is that China gains IMF voting   power, but Africa actually loses a substantial fraction of its share. Even   Gordhan admitted at last month’s Tokyo meeting of the IMF and world Bank that   it is likely “the vast majority of emerging and developing countries will   lose quota shares – an outcome that will perpetuate the democratic deficit.”   And given “the crisis of legitimacy, credibility and effectiveness of the   IMF”, it “is simply untenable” that Africa only has two seats for its 45   member countries.

Likewise, South Africa’s role in Africa has been “nasty”, as confirmed when   Nepad was deemed “philosophically spot on” by lead US State Department Africa   official Walter Kansteiner in 2003, and foisted privatisation of even basic   services on the continent. In a telling incident this year, the Johannesburg   parastatal firm Rand Water was forced to leave Ghana after failing – with a   Dutch for-profit partner (Aqua Vitens) – to improve Accra’s water supply, as   also happened in Maputo, Mozambique, (Saur from Paris) and Dar es Salaam   (Biwater from London) in Tanzania.

As a matter of principle, BRICS appears hell bent on promoting the further   commodification of life, at a time when the greatest victory won by ordinary   Africans in the last decade is under attack: the winning of the Treatment   Action Campaign’s demand for affordable access to AIDS medicines, via India’s   cheap generic versions of drugs. A decade ago, they cost $10,000 per person per   year and only a tiny fraction of desperate people received the medicines.   Now, more than 1.5 million South Africans – and millions more in the rest of   Africa – get treatment, thus raising the South Africa’s average life   expectancy from 52 in 2004 to 60 today, according to reliable statistics   released this month.

However, in recent months, Obama has put an intense squeeze on India to cut   back on generic medicine R&D and production, as well as making deep cuts   in his own government’s aid commitment to fund African healthcare. In Durban,   the city that is home to the most HIV+ people in the world, Obama’s move   resulted in this year’s closure of AIDS public treatment centres at three   crucial sites. One was the city’s McCord Hospital, which ironically was a long-standing   ally of the NGO Partners in Health, whose cofounder was Obama’s pick for   World Bank president, Jim Kim.



Links to other resources Thomas Pakenham (1992) The Scramble for Africa: White Man’s   Conquest of the Dark Continent from 1876 to 1912. See:

The Economist (2011) Africa’s natural resources: Spread the wealth:

Conflict Minerals Rebels and Child Soldiers in Congo

Title Conflict   Minerals Rebels and Child Soldiers in Congo
Director(s) Suroosh Alvi
Date released (year) 2011
Production company Vice
Length 38mins
Location Congo
Keywords/tags Minerals, mining, civil war,   violence
Link to film
Synopsis The Democratic   Republic of Congo is one of the poorest countries in the world and thanks to   an insanely complicated mix of politics, armed conflict, and corruption… it’s   also one of the most under-reported. It also happens to be home to a   nondescript black rock known as Coltan… a vital ingredient in the production   of nearly every cell phone and computer on the planet. Without Coltan, our   technology-driven lives would come to a screeching halt, and Congo has 80% of   the world’s supply. Since the mid nineteen-nineties, armed groups have used   these minerals to fund a series of fantastically complicated and horrifically   violent wars.

Vice founder Suroosh   Alvi travels to the Democratic Republic of Congo and makes one of the most   grueling treks of his life to see first-hand where this so-called “conflict   mineral” comes from and to meet some of the rebels involved in the seemingly   never-ending conflict in Eastern Congo.


Reviews/discussion From the BBC: The Human Cost of Coltan Mining

By Karen Allen
BBC News, South Kivu

It   was midnight when Elise and her husband were woken by armed men in the   Democratic Republic of Congo. Soldiers of DR Congo’s National Army burst into their shack, sent the   husband into another room, and then raped the mother of five at gunpoint.

“They put their guns on my   chest and said: ‘Don’t talk, don’t cry, don’t complain’… then they started to   rape me,” she said.

The perpetrators were not the   feared militia of the FDLR, who are currently the focus of a major military   operation in South Kivu.

They were from the FARDC – the   National Army that now controls this area in eastern DR Congo.

It is an area carpeted with   minerals such as coltan and cassiterite, which are used in the production of   consumer durables and gadgets sold in the rich world.

But people are now beginning to   ask: what is the human cost of a mobile phone?

Scarred for life

In Shabunda territory, where   Elise was attacked, there have been 112 rapes reported since April, when the   military operation started.

These official figures are   almost certainly just the tip of the iceberg, because most sexual crimes go   unreported here.

Since 2006 there have been   2,883 recorded rapes in the Shabunda territory.

Many of the women have not only   been sexually violated but physically scarred for life.

And Shabunda is just one   territory out of eight in the province of South Kivu – a tiny pin-prick in   this vast country.

“Sexual attacks peak when   there’s fighting,” said Shabunda-based human rights activist Papy   Bwalinga Kashama.

“The reason the military   and militia are fighting is to control the mines,” he said.

Civilians get caught in the middle.   Control the men with guns who guard and earn tax from the mines, he argued,   and you reduce the terrible violations endured by women.

It may sound simplistic, but he   has a point.

Predatory militias

In the mining area of Nyabembe,   rusting pieces of mining machinery poke out from a thick layer of grass.

They reflect a time in the   mid-1970s, when commercial mining was carried out in this area – a   two-and-a-half hour motorbike ride from the town of Lulingu.

Five years of civil war,   followed by protracted skirmishes with the militia, saw those operations move   out and freelance miners move in.

These men are now exposed to   predatory militias and also the military who demand a cut from what they dig.

When they are not exacting   local taxes, the gunmen move into the village and terrify the local   population – stealing, killing and raping.

“They take what they want,   even our women, and there is nothing we can do about it,” sighed Simon,   a young teacher who has swapped his school books for a shovel, because it is   the only way to make a living.

Blood on their hands?

Global electronics and metals   giants now face uncomfortable questions: Are they inadvertently fuelling the   conflict in eastern DR Congo? Are they buttressing a market by sourcing   supplies from militarised zones (a practice that is not illegal but ethically   questionable)?

“There is nowhere and   no-one we won’t buy from,” said Masumbuko Moari, who represents   middlemen who supply to the big exporters.

He laughed when I suggested   they might have blood on their hands as a result of buying from the men with   guns.

“That’s a political   issue,” he said, and our conversation ended.

With mining being the only game   in town, radical change is bound to be resisted.

And that is the argument that   international purchasers of minerals use, to justify their trade: so many   jobs depend on it.

‘Abnormal situation’

During a recent visit to South   Kivu, DR Congo’s Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito admitted to the BBC that there   was a genuine problem about militarised mining.

“We want people and   companies to be able to work in good conditions,” he said. “Once   the environment improves, the army won’t be in a position to exploit the   mines.

“It’s an abnormal   situation at the moment because the government doesn’t have full control.”

The Congolese government faces   international pressure to address military exploitation of DR Congo’s mines.

It claims to control 80% of the   mines but if you are prepared to ride by motorbike for a few hours, or trek   through the forests on foot, it is not hard to find mines in the hands of men   with guns.

Under the wire

During US Secretary of State   Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to the country, grand statements were made to   get the military out of the mines, but change requires clear political will.

“We have to destroy the   commercial circus of the mines, by reasserting the control of the   state,” said Mabolia Yenga, a mines trouble-shooter who advises DR   Congo’s ministry of mines.

Commercialising the mining   sector is not a magic bullet, but it might be a start if the big operators   are closely watched.

Mr Yenga believes that for   minerals like coltan and cassiterite, a process of certification to ensure   the mining does not fund violence – such as with the Kimberley process for   diamonds – is long overdue.

But such a process would   require input from DR Congo’s neighbours, which act as transit points for   illicit exports.

Neighbours such as Burundi,   Rwanda and Uganda have long been accused of benefiting from DR Congo’s mines,   operating “under the wire” and gaining from the country’s   instability.

The Congolese government wants   to invite mining companies back in and use the tax revenues from mining to   rebuild this shattered country.

It is a hard message to sell to   a population which has seen virtually no infrastructural growth from its   mineral riches – simply war.

But it may be a small step to   making mining more transparent in DR Congo. It may also help to ensure that   some of the 1.8bn mobile phones in the world are a little   “cleaner”.


An excellent book on this topic:

Michael Nest, 2011, Coltan. Wiley   Press.


A decade ago no one except geologists had heard of tantalum or   ‘coltan’ – an obscure mineral that is an essential ingredient in mobile   phones and laptops. Then, in 2000, reports began to leak out of Congo: of   mines deep in the jungle where coltan was extracted in brutal conditions   watched over by warlords. The United Nations sent a team to investigate, and   its exposé of the relationship between violence and the exploitation of   coltan and other natural resources contributed to a re-examination of   scholarship on the motivations and strategies of armed groups.

The   politics of coltan encompass rebel militias, transnational corporations,   determined activists, Hollywood celebrities, the rise of China, and the   latest iGadget. Drawing on Congolese and activist voices, Nest analyses the   two issues that define coltan politics: the relationship between coltan and   violence in the Congo, and contestation between activists and corporations to   reshape the global tantalum supply chain. The way production and trade of   coltan is organised creates opportunities for armed groups, but the Congo   wars are not solely, or even primarily, about coltan or minerals generally.   Nest argues the political significance of coltan lies not in its causal link   to violence, but in activists’ skillful use of mobile phones as a symbol of   how ordinary people and transnational corporations far from Africa are   implicated in Congo’s coltan industry and therefore its conflict. Nest   examines the challenges coltan initiatives face in an activist ‘marketplace’   crowded with competing justice issues, and identifies lessons from coltan   initiatives for the geopolitics of global resources more generally.


Links to other resources Dena Montague (2002) Stolen Goods: Coltan   and Conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. SAIS Review   22.1 (2002) 103-118 [Access article in PDF]
Click here to help: more VICE documentaries here:

See Blood Coltan:

Welcome to Lagos

Title BBC’s Welcome to Lagos
Director(s) Solomon Sydelle
Date released (year) 2010
Production company BBC
Length 10.11mins
Location Lagos Nigeria
Keywords/tags Toxic waste, poverty, violence
Link to film
Synopsis First 10 minutes of the   Part 1 of the documentary.

Three part observational   documentary series which explores life at the sharp end of one of the most   extreme urban environments in the world: Lagos, Nigeria

Reviews/discussion Economy: Nigeria is Africa’s leading oil   producer; more than half of its people live in poverty(


From the program editor’s blog:

First   stop was the city’s main dump site, Olusosun. This definitely   isn’t on the tourist trail of Lagos, but then Lagos doesn’t have much of a   tourist industry at the moment. Some 5,000 people work on the dump, and we   were immediately struck by how organised and efficient everything was.

As well as all the   scavengers working behind the dump trucks, grabbing anything and everything   they could to re-sell to the re-processing factories, there were shops, bars,   restaurants, a mosque, a barbers, and even a cinema.

The longer we hung   out on the dump (it very soon became one of our favourite places to film,   because the people were all so friendly there) the more astonishing it   became. It turned out that the scavengers even had their own form of   democratically elected chairman, who sorted out any arguments or   disagreements.

The dump became   symbolic of everything we were trying to achieve in the films. It looks at   first sight like a rough, lawless, dangerous place, and most people in this   country will be horrified to see people working there.

But in actual fact,   through the eyes of the people who actually DO work there, it’s a   well-organised place where there’s good money to be earned. Decent, honest   people choose to work there, preferring a life of grime to a life of crime.   Some of them are university graduates.

They are proud of   the fact that they earn an honest living, and are making a better life for   themselves and their families through sheer determination and hard work.

We realised the   scavengers were people to be admired rather than pitied, and it changed our   whole perspective on the place. They didn’t feel sorry for themselves, so why   should we feel sorry for them? We decided that the   films should celebrate their resourcefulness, and challenge our   audience’s views of what poverty is.

After the dump we   went to Makoko,   an extraordinary floating slum, where everyone travels round in boats. Some   people call it Lagos’s version of Venice.

There’s 100,000   people living on houses built on stilts, and after a week or so of drifting   around in boats, stopping at people’s houses and talking to them, we stumbled   across Mr Chubbey, who went on to become the star of programme   two.

He has 18 children   to look after, and is always on the look out for some scheme or another which   will help him make more money. He’s like a character from Only Fools And Horses, buying selling,   wheeling and dealing, doing dodgy deals and getting by on his charm and his   luck. All that’s missing is the camel skin coat.

The last film is set   on a beach right in the heart of the swankiest part of town. It sounds   idyllic – white sands, clear blue Atlantic waters, baking hot sunny days –   and in many ways it is.

But it is also home   to 1,000 or so squatters, who have built homes on the sand because they have   nowhere else to go. After a couple of trips, walking along the sands,   explaining what we were doing to the inquisitive children, we met Esther, a   sparky, intelligent, beautiful young woman who had been staying on the beach   for the last six years.

She lived with her   husband Segun in a little house which they had built themselves out of scrap   wood, cardboard and old tarpaulins. It probably cost them about £80.

But when Esther and   her husband started to have problems in their marriage, and it looked like   they were going to split up, they used to have terrible arguments about who   was going to get the house – every bit as vicious as they would be if they   were living in a mansion in Beverley Hills.

We realised then   that all our characters, wherever they lived, however extreme their working   environment, went through all of the same things which we do in the West –   love, heartbreak, marriages, births, deaths etc. It’s just that they live on   a different scale to us, in the slums of the fastest growing city in the   world, and with no money. This forces them to be more resourceful, energetic,   and optimistic than most people in the West.

And yes, they may be   terribly poor, but that doesn’t stop them being human and, if the films have   succeeded, then I hope they’ve succeeded in showing that.


Links to other resources Watts,   M. (ed) (2008) Curse of the black gold: 50 years of   oil in the Niger Delta. New York: Powerhouse.


The Curse of Black Gold film

We Say No to Fracking – Voices from the Karoo

Title We Say No to   Fracking – Voices from the Karoo
Director(s) Liane Greeff
Date released (year) 2012
Production company EcoDoc Africa
Length 10.36mins
Location South Africa
Keywords/tags Education, environmentalism, fracking,   protest
Link to film
Synopsis Saturday 28 July 2012 saw a   gathering of communities, environmentalists, scientists, children, bikers   etc. in Nieu-Bethesda to raise awareness that the people of South Africa are   saying NO to fracking. The Rally was organised locally by Mikey Wentworth   with support from Climate Justice Campaign and Earthlife Africa Cape Town.

This video was filmed and edited by Liane Greeff of EcoDoc Africa, and   produced for EJOLT-CCS. EJOLT is a large collaborative project bringing   science and society together to catalogue ecological distribution conflicts   and to work towards confronting environmental injustice. EcoDoc Africa is   taking the camera to the conflicts and building and sharing a video archive   of people’s protests against ecocide on earth.


Reviews/discussion What is Fracking?

Hydraulic fracturing is the propagation of fractures in a rock layer by a pressurized fluid. Some hydraulic fractures form naturally—certain veins or dikes are examples—and can create conduits along which gas and petroleum from source rocks may migrate to reservoir rocks. Induced hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracturing, commonly known as fracing, fraccing, or fracking, is a technique used to release petroleum, natural gas (including shale gas, tight gas, and coal seam gas), or other substances for extraction.[1] This type of fracturing creates fractures from a wellbore drilled into reservoir rock formations.


A Pro-fracking argument:

Fracking it in South Africa: an argument for shale gas production in the Karoo – By John Schellhase, November 15, 2012

South Africa is in the midst of a heated energy debate. Africa’s wealthiest nation sits on top of one of the world’s largest shale gas reserves. While the government has lifted its moratorium on shale gas exploration, the controversial hydraulic fracturing technique, ‘fracking’, is still restricted as the country weighs environmental risks against opportunities for economic development. Given the clear economic opportunities and the chance to diversify away from coal, government officials should continue their deliberate, but steady progress toward completely removing the ban on fracking in South Africa.

In a study of 32 countries, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that South Africa has the 5th largest reserves of potentially recoverable shale gas. At 485 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the shale reserves in South Africa surpass those of Australia, Brazil, Canada, and Poland, where Prime Minister Donald Tusk has called natural gas his country’s “great chance,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Fracking is a controversial technique. In order to extract gas from shale formations, energy companies drill thousands of meters below ground, then drill horizontally into a shale formation. The rig operators pump water and a mixture of chemicals into the shale at high pressures, fracturing rock formations and allowing gas to flow. Fracking opponents worry that the chemicals involved in the process will contaminate water supplies, threatening both human communities and natural ecosystems. Proponents, such as Ben Grumbles, president of the non-for-profit Clean Water America Alliance, disagree. Grumbles has written, “Hydraulic fracturing can be ‘safe’ when done in the right place, on the right scale, with the right safeguards.”

Royal Dutch Shell, Falcon Oil, Sunset Energy, Sasol Oil, and Bundu Oil and Gas are all eager to explore South Africa’s shale basin in the semi-arid Karoo region, which stretches between Capetown and Johannesburg. This area has the lowest population density in the country. But with over 6,000 plant species, 40 percent of which are unique to the area, the Karoo is rich in biodiversity. In February 2011, Susan Shabangu, the Minister of Mineral Resources, instituted a nation-wide ban on shale gas exploration, citing environmental concerns.

Pressure from both sides of the issue has only grown louder since Shabangu’s announcement. In March of this year, Treasure the Karoo Action Group, an organization fighting shale exploration, declared, “In the event that Minister Shabangu issues exploration licenses under the current status quo, we will look to the courts for protection.” In May, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters, according to local media reports, called the gas beneath the Karoo a “blessing that God gives us,” adding, “and we need to exploit it for the benefit of the people.”

Since September, the government has been sending mixed messages. At first, Collins Chabane, a minister in the President’s office, announced that the moratorium was entirely lifted, but less than two weeks later, Shabangu corrected the record, explaining that the moratorium has only been lifted for “normal exploration” and that fracking remains off-limits. In a speech to parliament, she said, “Hydraulic fracturing – when and if it eventually happens – will be authorized under the strict supervision of the monitoring committee.” President Jacob Zuma has stayed out of the fray. When contacted for comment on this piece, for example, his office redirected the query to the Ministry of Mining.

Currently, coal dominates South Africa’s energy landscape, accounting for over 90 percent of electricity production. With proved reserves of 300 billion tons, coal provides the cheap energy South Africa needs to sustain its rapid economic rise. Those reserves can keep the country powered for the next century, but concerns about climate change are driving policymakers to seek alternatives. In this context, natural gas, which cuts greenhouse gas emissions in half compared to coal, has become increasingly attractive.

Ichumile Gqada, a researcher at the respected South Africa Institute of International Affairs, believes shale gas exploration in the Karoo should go forward. In an email, she wrote, “Ignoring the massive potential of the resource that might be in place in the Karoo by ‘leaving the resource in the ground,’ as some have suggested, would be unjustifiable in my eyes.”

The upside potential of exploration is powerfully attractive. A report released in September by the Department of Mineral Resources described the economic potential of fracking in the Karoo. In a “moderately optimistic” case, the authors estimate that if 30 trillion cubic feet, out of the estimated 485 trillion cubic feet, could be produced the financial windfall would be 1 trillion rand; in other words, a mere 6 percent of potential reserve is worth US $115 billion. The government report also cites PetroSA’s Mossel Bay project, where the production of just 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas led to the creation of over 1,500 jobs.

As incomes in South Africa continue to rise and energy demands increase, the economic logic of shale gas extraction may become irresistible. Local environmental groups such as Treasure the Karoo and international NGOs such as Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund should transform their message from stopping fracking at any cost to ensuring the highest health and environmental standards possible. Instead of protesting from the periphery, they should work to embed their members on advisory boards and oversight panels. By working with extractive industries instead of against them, civil society groups will have far more influence in shaping the future of fracking in South Africa.

For its part, the government must continue to ensure that environmental concerns guide future exploration. Working with industry and civil society, ministers must have clear, forceful regulations in place to guarantee the strictest consequences if energy companies cause environmental harm. It is also time that President Zuma makes an extended public statement on the issue.

Shale gas exploration has the potential to drive the next wave of economic growth in South Africa, reducing poverty and creating tens of thousands of jobs over the next decade. While the government must maintain the highest environmental standards for companies wishing to extract shale gas in the Karoo, it has an economic obligation to steadily open shale gas to further development, including fracking. It is time for South Africa’s government to lead the country to a more secure energy future.

John Schellhase is a graduate student at the Center for Global Affairs, New York University.



Anti-fracking argument:

Fracking cancer risk, September 20 2012
By Tony Carnie – environment reporter

KwaZulu-Natal – SA’s top water research body has warned the government to think carefully about the serious risk of water pollution from cancer-causing chemicals and radioactive compounds from future underground “fracking” operations across huge swathes of the country.

A new report by the state-funded Water Research Commission says shale gas rock-fracturing (fracking) will not only happen in remote sections of the Karoo. In fact, the government had already issued fracking exploration permits in six of the nine provinces, including a massive chunk of southern KwaZulu-Natal stretching almost as far north as Pietermaritzburg.

The scientists note that future fracking, at depths 4km below the earth’s surface, could be over a much wider area of the country – including most of the high-lying areas south of latitude 29°C in KZN (a line which starts at Mtunzini in the east and stretches inland past Estcourt towards Bloemfontein and Kimberley).

The report also identifies a number of risks to human health, water and the natural environment from fracking wells. These risks included:

– Widespread pollution of groundwater, rivers and lakes with dozens of cancer-causing fracking compounds and other “highly toxic” pollutants such as benzene, hydrochloric acid and isopropanol.

– Accidental release of underground uranium and other radioactive elements into the water and soil.

– Underground mini-earthquakes, cave-ins and land subsidence.

– Privatisation of parks and other state land where the public is excluded from fracking land and gas fields for safety reasons.

– Above-ground air pollution from methane and other shale gas wells.

– Lower property values.

However, water pollution is the main emphasis of the 84-page Water Research Commission report by Gideon Steyl (University of the Free State chemistry department), Gerrit van Tonder (University of the Free State Institute for Groundwater Studies) and Luc Chevallier (Council for Geoscience).

The scientists note that gas-drilling companies in the US have been trying to hide the toxic nature of many fracking chemicals.

However, the commission cites a report from the US House of Representatives last year which identified at least 29 commonly used fracking chemicals that were known or probable cancer-causing agents, or were regulated as hazardous to drinking water and air.

These chemicals are mixed with water and pumped underground at very high pressure to fracture and crack the rock formations to release buried pockets of methane and other gas formed millions of years ago from rotting mounds of mud, vegetation, algae and other organic matter.

Some chemicals included benzene (a known cancer-causing chemical) along with a variety of acids and petroleum products.

A study by the University of Buffalo in the US last year also raised concern about the possible release of underground uranium and other radioactive compounds when rocks are cracked up with hydrochloric acid.

Another US study published last year showed that the methane gas level in underground drinking water was generally 17 times higher in fracking areas compared with well water where no fracking took place.

However, Steyl and his colleagues voiced dismay over the difficulty in tracking down truly unbiased international studies on the impacts of fracking, since most were done by industry and private interests.

Even official US government reports claiming no damage to public health or the environment stood in contradiction to numerous adverse reports by US citizens and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The commission researchers note that a single fracking event in a single well used the same amount of water needed to irrigate eight to 10ha of maize during a growing season.

Every time a well was fracked, large volumes of chemicals were added to the water-pressure mixture. Although chemicals only made up between 0.5 and 2 percent of the mixture, the volume of hazardous chemicals in a single fracking event could total between 34 000 and 136 000 litres.

Even if just 1 percent of dangerous fracking chemicals leaked out of the concrete well drillings during a single fracking, Steyl estimated that 490 litres of hazardous chemicals could contaminate underground water. This could pose “serious hazards” to the environment and to underground water drunk by people and livestock.

Despite these concerns, the scientists appear to recognise that fracking is a fait accompli and they have listed a set of 10 recommendations to limit harm. They include compulsory “full disclosure” of every chemical used. Any fracking well should be at least 10km away from residential areas to reduce chemical exposure risks.

All drilling records should be freely available to the public, and a thorough baseline study should be done to measure pre-fracking quality of water, soil and air by an “unbiased” body such as a university.

Legal action should also be taken against any drilling company after a first offence. They should be forced to clean up damage, and be banned from future fracking in SA. However, even in the US, there were fewer than 10 inspectors to monitor more than 3 500 fracking wells in Pennsylvania. – The Mercury



Fracking facts

An introduction to fracking in South Africa
The moratorium on fracking in South Africa, endorsed by Cabinet in April 2011 and extended by six more months in August 2011, has been lifted on the 7th of September 2012, following the recommendations of the task team report. The report is available here:

The report also suggested that exploration proceed without allowing for horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing, while laws are amended and a monitoring committee is established. Due to the fatal flaws in the applicants’ EMP’s and other considerations, TKAG will be opposing any licences that may be granted in the near future by legal means.

High Volume, Slickwater, Horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”/”fraccing”, is the controversial technology used for the extraction of unconventional gas, such as shale gas. The technique involves a vertical well that is drilled to a depth of between 2000 m and 6000 m, after which the drilling bore turns to drill horizontally for a few thousand meters. A mixture of 99%-99.5% water and sand, along with 0.5% – 1% chemicals are pumped under high pressure into the well. This process fractures the shale rock layer, releasing the gas trapped between rock particles.



Links to other resources

Shell Oil – The Awful Truth

Title Shell Oil – The Awful Truth
Date released (year) 2010
Production company Protect the human
Length 2.30mins
Location Nigeria/   Niger delta
Keywords/tags Oil, natural   resources, civil war
Link to film
Synopsis Shell Nigeria is one of the   largest oil producers in the Royal Dutch/Shell Group. 80% of the oil   extraction in Nigeria is in the Niger Delta, the southeast region of the   country. The Delta is home to many small minority ethnic groups, including   the Ogoni, all of which suffer egregious exploitation by multinational oil   companies, like Shell. Shell provides over 50% of the income keeping the   Nigerian dictatorship in power.
Although oil from Ogoniland has provided approximately $30 billion to the   economy of Nigeria, the people of Ogoni see little to nothing from their   contribution to Shell’s pocketbook. Shell has done next to nothing to help   Ogoni. By 1996, Shell employed only 88 Ogoni (0.0002% of the Ogoni   population, and only 2% of Shell’s employees in Nigeria). Ogoni villages have   no clean water, electricity, abysmal health care, no jobs for displaced   farmers and fisher persons and face the effects of unrestrained environmental   molestation by Shell everyday.
Since Shell began drilling oil in Ogoniland in 1958, the people of Ogoniland   have had pipelines built across their farmlands and in front of their homes,   suffered endemic oil leaks from these very pipelines, been forced to live   with the constant flaring of gas. This environmental assault has smothered land   with oil, killed masses of fish and other aquatic life, and introduced   devastating acid rain to the land of the Ogoni. For the Ogoni, a people   dependent upon farming and fishing, the poisoning of the land and water has   had devastating economic and health consequences. Shell claims to clean up   its oil spills, but such “clean-ups” consist of techniques like   burning the crude which results in a permanent layer of crusted oil metres   thick and scooping oil into holes dug in surrounding earth.Both Shell and the government admit that Shell contributes to the funding of   the military in the Delta region. Under the auspices of   “protecting” Shell from peaceful demonstrators in the village of   Umeuchem (10 miles from Ogoni), the police killed 80 people, destroyed houses   and vital crops. Shell conceded it twice paid the military for going to   specific villages. Although it disputes that the purpose of these excursions   was to quiet dissent, each of the military missions paid for by Shell   resulted in Ogoni fatalities. Shell has also admitted purchasing weapons for   the police force who guard its facilities, and there is growing suspicion   that Shell funds a much greater portion of the military than previously   admitted.

Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni 8 were leaders of MOSOP, the Movement for   Survival of the Ogoni People. As outspoken environmental and human rights   activists, they declared that Shell was not welcome in Ogoniland. On November   10, 1995, they were hanged after a trial by a special military tribunal   (whose decisions cannot be appealed) in the murder of four other Ogoni   activists. The defendants’ lawyers were harassed and denied access to their   clients. Although none of them were near the town where the murders occurred,   they were convicted and sentenced to death in a trial that many heads of   state strongly condemned for a stunning lack of evidence, unmasked partiality   towards the prosecution and the haste of the trial. The executions were   carried out a mere eight days after the decision. Two witnesses against the MOSOP   leaders admitted that Shell and the military bribed them to testify against   Ken Saro-Wiwa with promises of money and jobs at Shell. Ken’s final words   before his execution were:
“The struggle continues!”


Reviews/discussion See the Centre for Constitutional Rights,   Factesheet on Shell in Nigeria:

Royal Dutch Shell, plc (Shell) began oil   production in the
Niger Delta region of Nigeria in 1958 and has a long
history of working closely with the Nigerian government to
quell popular opposition to its presence in the region. From
1990-1995, Nigerian soldiers, at Shell’s request and with
Shell’s assistance and financing, used deadly force and
conducted massive, brutal raids against the Ogoni people
living in the Niger Delta to repress a growing movement in
protest of Shell.

On November 10, 1995, nine Ogoni leaders (the “Ogoni
Nine”) were executed by the Nigerian government after
being falsely accused of murder and tried by a speciallycreated
military tribunal. Those executed were internationally
acclaimed environmental and human rights activist Ken
Saro-Wiwa, prominent youth leader John Kpuinen, Dr.
Barinem Kiobel, Saturday Doobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel
Gbokoo, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate and Baribor Bera. The
detention, trial, and executions of the Ogoni Nine were the
result of collusion between Shell and the military government to suppress   opposition to Shell’s oil operations in Nigeria. The Center for   Constitutional Rights (CCR),
EarthRights International (ERI) and other human rights
attorneys sued Shell for human rights violations against the
Ogoni. The case will go to trial on May 26, 2009 in
federal court in New York City.


Shell acquitted of Nigeria pollution charges

The case involved five   allegations of oil spills in Nigeria, four of which were quashed by the court

Fiona Harvey, environment   correspondent, and Afua Hirsch, The Guardian, Wednesday   30 January 2013 11.31 GMT:

Plaintiff Nigerian farmer Eric Dooh showing   his hand covered with oil from a creek near Goi, Ogoniland, Nigeria.   Photograph: Marten Van Dijl/EPA

Shell was acquitted in a Dutch court on Wednesday morning of most of the   charges against it for pollution in Nigeria, where disputed oil spills have   been a long-running source of contention between the oil company, local   people and environmental campaigners.

The case involved five allegations of spills in Nigeria, and   four of these were quashed by the court. On the fifth count, Shell was   ordered to pay compensation, of an amount yet to be decided.

The case was brought in the Netherlands because of Shell’s dual   headquartership, being both Dutch and British, and was brought by four   Nigerian farmers co-sponsored by the international green campaigning group   Friends of the Earth.

In a statement, Friends of the Earth Netherlands said: “This   verdict is great news for the people in lkot Ada Udo who started this case   together with Milieudefensie [Friends of the Earth Netherlands]. But the   verdict also offers hope to other victims of environmental pollution caused   by multinationals. At the same time, the verdict is a bitter disappointment   for the people in the villages of Oruma and Goi – where the court did not   rule to hold Shell liable for the damage. Fortunately, this can still change   in an appeal.”

Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Africa programme director, said:   “Clearly it’s good news that one of the plaintiffs in this case managed   to clamber over all the obstacles to something approaching justice. However,   the fact that the other plaintiffs’ claims were dismissed underscores the   very serious obstacles people from the Niger Delta face in accessing justice when   their lives have been destroyed by oil pollution.”

Shell’s subsidiary, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria,   said the main cause of oil spills in the country was from people taking oil   for illegal refineries. Mutiu Sunmonu, managing director of SPDC said:   “We welcome the court’s ruling that all spill cases were caused by   criminal activity. Oil pollution is a problem in Nigeria, affecting the daily   lives of people in the Niger Delta. However, the vast majority of oil   pollution is caused by oil thieves and illegal refiners. This causes major   environmental and economic damage, and is the real tragedy of the Niger   Delta.”

He added: “SPDC has made great efforts to raise awareness of the   issue with the government of Nigeria, international bodies like the UN, the   media and NGOs. We will continue to be at the forefront of discussions to   find solutions. For SPDC no oil spill is acceptable and we are working hard   to improve our performance on operational spills. In the past years we have   seen a decline in operational spill volumes. These spills, however, were   caused by sabotage and the court has, quite rightly, largely dismissed the   claims.”

The case turned on whether Shell was responsible for the spills, through   negligence and a failure to invest in proper safety systems of the kind that   are required in developed countries, as the campaigners alleged, or whether –   as Shell argued – the spills were mainly the result of local people   attempting to steal oil from pipelines.

It is understood that the court took the view that four of the spills   were caused by sabotage, as people tried to extract oil for their own   purposes. In the case of the fifth, the finding was that Shell had been   negligent in failing to prevent such sabotage.

But the farmers and green campaigners are expected to appeal against the   verdict to a higher court.

Shell is accused of widespread spills across the regions of Nigeria   where it operates, but the allegations in question concerned incidents in   Goi, Ogoniland, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom.

“There is an atmosphere of celebration here – the community feels   that some justice has been done,” said Ken Henshaw, a Niger Delta   activist from campaign group Social Action which has closely followed the   case. “A precedent has been set, it has been made known that shell can   be liable for damages and loss of livelihood.”

“We didn’t win all the cases, but we won one, and that one is a   precedent,” Henshaw added. “We are prepared to appeal the other   ones. Shell tries to give the impression that the oil spills are caused by   sabotage, but we are convincied that it was not sabotage. It is the result of   equipment failure and neglect on the part of Shell.”

“We are emboldened by this victory, we feel confident that we will   definitely succeed on appeal. This is a major threshold, now that we have   crossed it, we can bring more claims. The communities who have had their   lives ruined by oil companies now feel galvanized to take action.”

Plantiffs from Ikot Ada Udo, Akwa Ibom State, whose case was successful,   said they were now looking forward to compensation for their loss of livelihood.

“We were successful today, and I am happy, I know that the judgment   has been divinely directed,” said Elder Friday Akpan, 55, from the Ikot   Abasi area of Akwa ibom state, whose 47 catfish farms were destroyed   following pollution from an oil spill, a claim which the court upheld as   caused by a breach of Shell Nigeria’s duty of care.

“The fishes died completely. I was confused because it left me   completely empty,” Akpan added. “I did not have some money to pay   school fees for my twelve children, and nothing to allow me to earn my   livelihood again. Debts I had borrowed I could not repay. There was nothing   for me. I was finished.”

One lawyer involved in the case said that it was right to see it as a   victory.

“There are positives and negatives from this case,” said Prince   Chima Williams, head the legal affairs department at the Environmental Rights   Action group. “It is positive in the sense that the court has found   Shell liable for the environmental destruction in Akwa Ibom State. It is   positive because it means that Nigerian citizens can now drag Shell to court   in Holland for its actions and inactions in their communities.”

“The negative aspect is that the court refused to agree with us   Shell’s negligence caused the other oil spills. Because we disagree with the   court on that position, and that is why our first priority now is going to be   to appeal the judgment,” Williams added.

The case has cast a spotlight on the power which Shell wields in Nigeria,   amidst allegations that the Nigerian authorities would not have enforced the   judgment had the case been brought in local courts.

“Shell do not admit mistakes,” said Akpan. They would not obey   a judgment in a Nigerian court. When they know that the judgment is in   Holland it’s better.”

“We considered all the options and the history of litigation in   Nigeria before deciding to take the case to Holland,” said Williams.   “We could not have confidence in the judiciary in Nigeria because,   coming from our experience, when the judiciary gives a judgment, the   enforcement of that judgment by the executive becomes a problem.”

“Shell is a very stubborn company, and in Nigeria, in some   situations, it is more powerful than the Nigerian government,” Williams   added.

Activists believe that the case will have a longer-term effect on   attitudes within communities affected by oil spills in Nigeria.

“In the long run a case like this will promote self-help among   communities, because they know that if they know they can go to court in   Holland, they can obtain a judgment that will be complied with, from which   they can reap the benefits” said Williams.

The level of damages is yet to be determined. “In the case itself we   didn’t make specific demands for an amount, so the next step will be for the   community to assist the court with an assessment of the actual loss that   should be compensated,” said Williams.


Links to other resources Watts, M. (ed) (2008) Curse of the   black gold: 50 years of oil in the Niger Delta. New York:   Powerhouse.

Protect the   Human:

     8:34           The Video Shell Oil Desperately Doesn’t   Want You to See
     4:50           The people of Nigeria versus Shell   (English)

     9:31           Ken Saro-Wiwa: his last interview, part I

     3:07           Gas Flares, Oil Companies and Politics In   Nigeria.
     22:38           Oil War
     8:52           The Awful Truth