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Resource wealth can cause re-colonisation, warns Envoy

His Excellency Patrick Edwards

His Excellency Patrick Edwards

Resource rich countries in Africa are at risk of a new form of colonization unless they check the alarming rate at which foreigners are taking over their land, says the High Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago to Uganda.

In an exclusive interview at the sidelines of the East African Petroleum Conference (EAPC) in Arusha last month, His Excellency Patrick Edwards, also revealed to Oil in Uganda that his country was bidding for the recently tendered Eldoret-Kampala pipeline project.

“Re-colonization is not necessarily political colonization but economic and social colonization,” he explained. “One has to be careful, there has been a scramble for Africa in the 19th century. The major scramble has been from the former European countries. You have all these countries returning here (Africa) because the developed world is declining economically and they have problems of employment and monetary issues. They are all running back to Africa for salvation,” he said.

He observed that the acquisition of land by foreigners across Africa was largely resource driven. “Most of them are running back to scramble for land because of the valuable resources in it. It is another away of re-colonization,” he warned.

Mr. Edwards said that such migration into Africa was crippling the development of the continent’s largely youthful population, as many of the migrants end up completing for jobs with the local population.

“We have a young population and we need to begin thinking of making them grow. But (if) we keep entertaining foreigners taking over our economy, they will remain in the country but they will not integrate with the local people to support the growth of local human resource,” he noted.

Grand Plans

Mr. Edwards also said that his country, a major training partner of Uganda’s in the oil and gas industry, has big plans in Uganda, revealing that they were one of the contenders for the construction for the  Eldoret-Kampala pipeline estimated to cost 300 million dollars.

“Our Natural gas Company sent in their application. They have all the qualifications and if we win the contract, we will certainly do a good job,” he said. “We are the smallest country with diplomatic representation in Uganda but we are competing with the Americans, Chinese, and Italians to build the pipeline.”

Fourteen companies have submitted bids to construct the pipeline, including a consortium of state-owned National Oil Corporation of Kenya (NOCK) and the Indian Oil Corporation.

Mr. Edwards said his country, a popular oil and gas training destination for East Africans, was planning to set up a technical training school in Uganda to equip Ugandans with relevant skills to gain employment in the highly specialized oil and gas industry. “Our plan is to set up a (training) school. We want to train people in oil and gas technology in Uganda and Kenya and the whole region. We have a small population but we have the knowledge and expertise,” he said.

He added that his Government’s objective was to boost local continent in the oil and gas Industry. “When we come, we will train you, employ your people so that they grow and mature to become managers (in oil and gas). We share technology in a meaningful sense,” he explained.

The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, located in the southern Caribbean just off the coast of north-eastern Venezuela, has been an oil producer since 1866.

The latest BP Statistical Review for World Energy put the two islands’ proven oil and natural gas reserves at 800 million barrels and 14.2 trillion cubic feet, respectively. On the global scale, these are not huge reserves, but with an estimated population of only 1.3 million people, they are significant.

Trinidad and Tobago is the largest natural gas supplier to the United States and also boasts of a large petrochemical industry, with nine ammonia complexes, seven methanol units, a urea plant, an iron and steel complex and four trains of natural gas (liquefaction and purification facilities).


Report by CM and FN