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Tag Archives: Local content policy

Fuel shortages in Equatorial Guinea: An aberration to Africa’s liberty by Chofor Che, 29 July 2013


Equatorial Guinea is a state situated in Middle Africa. With an area of 28,000 square kilometres (11,000 sq mi), Equatorial Guinea happens to be one of the smallest states in Africa. It is composed of two parts, a mainland and an insular region. The mainland region, Río Muni, is bordered by Gabon on the south and east and Cameroon on the north. The insular region is composed of the islands of Bioko (formerly Fernando Pó) in the Gulf of Guinea and Annobón, a small volcanic island south of the equator. Bioko island is the northernmost part of Equatorial Guinea and is the site of the country’s capital, Malabo.

Equatorial Guinea is one of sub-Sahara’s largest oil producers. With a population of 650,702, it is the richest state per capita in Africa, and its gross domestic product (GDP) per capita ranks 69th in the world. However, the wealth is unevenly distributed and just a few people have benefited from the oil riches. According to the United Nations, less than half of the population has access to clean drinking water and that 20% of children die before reaching five.
On the 25 of July 2013, the government of Equatorial Guinea announced that the state had suffered from a shortage in petroleum products especially fuel. This news came as a big shock to Africa and the whole World. According to a report from the Economist dated 25 July 2013, tensions between France and Equatorial Guinea are set to rise as the regime blames a French company for the shortages.

Some experts were invited over the weekend to a special programme to the popular broadcasting station of France 24, to share their views on why Equatorial Guinea has to suffer from fuel shortages despite its oil rich status. Some of these experts were of the view that the West especially France has always had a strategy to distabilise regimes in Africa by making the population riot against these said regime. These analysts added that France caused the fuel shortages to make the population of Equatorial Guinea riot against the regime in power. Other invited analysts added that the regime in power was the cause of fuel shortages. For long now, just a few corrupt officials have been benefitted from the proceeds of oil and gas production in Equatorial Guinea. Oil and gas multinationals especially from France have been given the lee way to manipulate regimes at the expense of the populace.

In as much as the government of Equatorial Guinea blames France for fuel shortages, the bigger share of the blame rest with the government of Equatorial Guinea. This was a scenario which was foreseeable especially as the state allowed few corrupt individuals to benefit from the oil and gas sector in Equatorial Guinea. The state of Equatorial Guinea like many other states rich in oil and gas in Africa, has allowed multinationals from the West in complicity with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, to manipulate oil and gas production as well as the prices of finished products. Despite the oil and gas wealth in Africa, states like Equatorial Guinea are still plagued by underdevelopment.

Africa can indeed benefit from oil and gas if the people and not corrupt government officials are put first. States in Africa like Equatorial Guinea need to start rethinking their development policy especially in the oil and gas sector. Local content needs to be amplified upon. Talking about local content and holding workshops on local content is not enough. Africans need to be adequately employed and remunerated in the oil and gas industry. Africans especially Equatorial Guineans need to be involved in deciding on policy on fuel prices, especially as these products are necessary for human survival. Such measures can save Africa and Equatorial Guinea from an aberration.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2013 in Africa Development

 

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Labour unions in Cameroon call on local content policy improvement and better recruitment measures especially in the oil and gas sector, By Chofor Che, 12 November 2012


Since June 2012, civil society groups in Cameroon have been holding meetings with respect to improving recruitment environment in public and private sectors in the country. These moves also include improving the local content policy in the oil and gas sector in Cameroon. Local content policy warrants that private investors in sectors like the forestry as well as in the oil and gas sector, recruit and train locals, to actively participate in these sectors in their home countries. This to some extent entails that locals are involved in this sectors and add value to their home countries, both economically and professionally.

In mid-2012, the Federation of Trade Unions of Cameroon (L’intersyndicale du Cameroun) which is the national representative of all Cameroon workers, and comprises of the National Union of Cameroon Workers (UNTC) and Union of Free Trade Unions, was involved in pushing forth the agenda of ensuring that employees benefit from better working and recruitment conditions.  Amongst other issues, the Federation of Trade Unions was vehemently against the price hikes in gas and fuel prices, witnessed by the country recently.

According to a representative of UNTC, the central government has been very negligent in the oil and gas sector and is the main cause of the hikes in fuel prices, as well as poor remuneration of workers in the public sector.  The labour unions advocated for a reduction of fuel prices and an increase in Cameroon’s minimum wage from XAF 28,246 per month to some substantial amount. The issue of also coordinating and improving on recruitments in the oil and gas sector was also a major issue.

As part of a change in the local content policy, the Federation of Trade Unions were bitter against the way the National Oil refinery (with French acronym SONARA) functions. They could not understand why a lot of money is pumped into this structure which does not refine oil and gas. The state exports crude oil and imports finished oil products, which become very expensive for the average Cameroonian. The argument given by the state is that, it is very expensive for SONARA to refine oil. According to Federation of Trade Unions, this money should be utilised in infrastructural development and in a betterment of the working conditions of workers.

Focusing on the issue of the recruitment of workers in the oil and gas sector, which is currently coordinated through employment services, this representative from UNTC, is of the view that recruitments via employment services, does not add enough value to local content. Usually those employed via employment services do face issues of poor wages, uncoordinated compensation schemes by multinationals, risks of being fired without justification, just to list a few. The representative of UNTC added that complaints and reports from affected employees especially those fired by some multinationals, show that these employment services take no measures to protect the rights of workers. Workers are left on their own.

The representative from UNTC therefore revealed that, there is a push to involve the state in the recruitment exercise of workers in the oil and gas sector, as part of the move to reshape local content policy in the sector. This position was corroborated by a representative of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, who added that, there have been a series of consultation meetings to revamp the local content policy in the oil and gas sector. Some of these meetings focused on strengthening and protecting the rights of Cameroonians working in the oil and gas sector, as well as putting in place legislation on local content policy.

There is indeed a need for Cameroon to improve on its local content policy in the oil and gas sector. At present, the country has week legislation on how citizens are recruited in the sector and how these citizens are to benefit the country professionally. Improving local content policy will go a long way in developing the country, if and only if corrupt government officials do not utilise this medium as a means of enriching themselves, rather than developing the country and harnessing employment measures for Cameroonians as well as foreigners.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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