Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fight Against Unemployment : African Leaders Implored to transform natural into job opportunities

                                            By Christopher Ambe
     African governments and leaders have been called upon to henceforth ensure that the exploitation of the natural resources of their countries is largely intended for the common good of citizens. 
    They have  been  implored  to transform the abundant natural resources of their  conuttries  into job opportunities for the millions of qualified  but unemployed Africans, and  to make "local content and local participation" in mining, oil and gas projects a focus of their administrations
Dr. Makongo (extreme right)  making a presentation at launch of African Gas Association(AGA),in Kenya
   Dr. David Makongo , a Cameroonian - born but US-trained natural resources legal and policy expert   made the  plea   recently  in a presentation ,titled "Local Content And Local Participation In Natural Resources Projects-The Key To Africa's Development?" at Safari Park Hotel in Kenya during the inaugural meeting of The Africa Gas Association in conjunction with World Alliance for Decentralized Energy .
    The conference, which ran from October 14-15, assembled participants from (USA, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, United Kingdom, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Israel and Norway .It was chaired by the President of the African Gas Association Mrs. Pamela Namai, - a Kenyan resident in USA and working for the American Gas Association. She is also cofounder with Dr. Makongo and Foraline Olejembola of Nigeria of the Afro-American Consortium (AAC-3) dealing in natural resources, infrastructure, equity and financing across the globe.
    "This is the change Africa needs. It is the change Africans should be calling for because it carries more meaning in our nations than the mere change for sitting presidents," Dr Makongo, who was one of several speakers, noted.
"For Africa to be a stable place for business and an island of hospitality, host countries and foreign companies must merge their politics and policies so to create jobs for Africans right here in Africa.
"Companies should start seeking social licenses backed by solid local content and local participation plan that clearly shows how many local skills will be developed, how many local employees will be hired and what quantity of and quality of goods and services a company intends to source locally, as opposed to importing throughout the value chain of a mining or oil and gas project"
Mrs.Pamela Namai,President,AGA
    Dr. Makongo strongly advised that governments in dialogue and consultation with companies on the other hand, should put in place sound local content policies and legislation as guarantee for employment of locals to whom these resources belong and use of local goods and services- not forgetting technology transfer so that locals can also be competitive abroad. 
"No Africa government should grant a license to an investor who has not complied with the local participation plan agreed to. It is good to know what Africa will get before a license is granted …This is also important for companies to make profits because a key license any foreign company must seek to acquire for business success even higher than an exploitation license is a social license granted by the local community directly impacted by company's project."
   The international expert argued: "There is no justification what so ever for Nigeria to have 36 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and over 19 cubic billion barrels of natural gas reserves, ranking 5th biggest petroleum exporter in the word, yet three quarters of Nigerians still live far below poverty line. 
   "There is no convincing explanation why Nigeria that has made over 600 billion dollars in petroleum product sales since oil was first discovered in commercial quantity in the 1950s should still be owing local and foreign creditors a combined more than 50 billion dollars."
Asked whether Africa's abundant natural resources are a curse or blessing, Dr.Makongo retorted, "If Africa's natural resources endowment are ever going to serve as a blessing, local content and local participation policies and laws similar to the Norwegian model for success must be put in place as a catalyst in the way of doing business for Africa's socio-economic growth and development to be stimulated."
    For such development to occur, Dr. Makongo appealed to the West to stop giving Africa fish and start giving Africa fishing nets.
    Dr.Makongo, who was highly applauded for his thought-provoking presentation, urged African governments to stop budgeting for   war weaponry and start building bread, butter and groundnut factories right here in Africa.
  Natural gas development holds tremendous opportunity for the African Continent, and is a "prime mover" for broader economic and social development, it emerged.
   Dr. Makongo recalled that, before the scramble for Africa began about 1884, natural resources belonged to the traditional leaders who had sole authority to authorize anyone to exploit them. But he regretted that the colonization of Africa -spearheaded by Europe, viciously changed dynamics asAfricans were ruthlessly dispossessed of their fertile lands without compensation. 
"They were pushed to find new habitation slums on top of which they were sometimes compelled pay pole tax to their occupiers. The trend changed again during independence as most new independent African nations drafted new constitutions making all natural resources below and above the ground the property of the state and nationalized most foreign owned companies." He stated that, due to lack of technical expertise, lack of much needed capital, corruption and mismanagement, nationalization policy failed and by 1980s till date most African countries had become heavily indebted to both the World Bank and IMF 
The oil and gas experts in family picture at the launch of Africa Gas Association,in Kenya
   "Today African nations have become needles in the world economic stage where they pay more interest to the World Bank and IMF than they provided food, water and shelter for their own people who sit atop the rich resources. This must change today.
"The change Africa needs today should be such that companies partner with government institutions to seek for ways to transfer technology to indigenous communities in a way that is sustainable enough for local skills and services to be equally competitive in the international market"
   He bemoaned the fact that there are many educated African men and women living in resource-rich Africa, yet they cannot find jobs with companies tapping these resources.
Other speakers such as Pam C. Namai Partners of Afro-American Consortium from USA, Ambassador Richard Titus Ekai- Principal Secretary Ministry of Mining Kenya at the meeting elaborated a lot more on Africa's outlook for Natural Gas production and use.
   It should been noted that, Dr. Makongo has championed the cause of local communities in Ghana, Guinea, Burundi, Congo DRC, Mali, Rwanda, Bonavada in Cameroon and now is on track to becoming a legal and policy luminary leading awareness of local content and local participation in mining and oil and gas regimes in Africa. 
    According to him, this is the only way Africa -blessed with abundant natural resources can- stop looking like a joke on the world economic stage. Africa should stop borrowing more money and start paying less interest to the WB and IF and use the surplus income to create jobs and in paying for education, hospitals, clean water, electricity and road infrastructure for their own people right here in Africa. If this is put in place with good governance, accountability and the fight against corruption is genuine and not aimed at wasting scare national resources to quiet political opponents, Africa will grow and develop at a pace that will shock the entire universe.  
   Dr. Makongo is founder of Makongo & African Partners LLC, Partner with Afro-American Consortium (, and founder of United Support for Peace and member of ABA and IBA.
[Also Published In The RECORDER Newspaper,Cameroon,of October 28,2013]

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