Oilwatch Africa (OWA) held the 2022 Conference and Annual General Meeting at Accra, Ghana between 8th -12th August. The theme of the continental gathering was Stop Gassing the continent: Pipelines of Discontent. The Conference had presentations and representation from CSOs, activists, scholars, journalists, fisherfolks and Eco-defenders from fossil fuels-affected communities across the continent and provided another opportunity to deepen OWA’s mission as a network of peoples and organisations building solidarity to end expansion of oil and gas activities given its negative impacts on people and the environment in Africa.
Key observations made by delegates included:
- That the current rush for Africa’s oil, gas and mineral resources amounts to a perpetuation of extractive modes of colonial exploitation, which condemned the continent to predatory slave trade, followed by the massive raping of agricultural and forest resources, before the current iteration with its focus on minerals and fossil fuels.
- That the argument that Africa deserves to utilise its natural resources for energy sufficiency and development belies the fact that extraction of natural resources has historically been export-driven for the benefit of the consumption needs of the global north and scarcely targets the needs of the continent and the rhetoric by African leaders that fossil fuels could be utilised by the continent as a “less harmful” transition fuel is a delusion as gas contributes massively to climate change through its methane content.
That the continuous financing and development of massive pipeline projects such as the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project, the West African Gas Pipeline Project WAGP, and the Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline, among others constitute an aggression on the land rights of communities and portend massive livelihood disruptions, conflicts, human rights abuses, and environmental degradation across the continent.
- That the current trend in which multinational oil and gas companies sell off their stakes in onshore oil and gas assets and move out of African countries or further offshore amounts to an abdication of responsibility for historical damage caused by their activities in these countries.
- That the Paris Agreement and its 1.5 degrees Celsius target as driven by the so-called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) is a huge betrayal for Africa as the continent warms at about 50% above the global average, meaning that going by the NDCs, Africa is condemned to literally burn at the best of scenarios.
- That Africa is rich in renewable energies and given the growing competitiveness of clean energy technologies and has the potential to advance its energy transition along a zero-carbon pathway. For instance, Africa has the world’s highest solar potential but currently accounts for just one.
- That industrialised countries have demonstrated insincerity by routinely spending close to $2 trillion annually on military hardware and warfare while foot-dragging on climate commitments, especially adaptation finance.
- That emerging global and regional policy norms around a so-called blue economy revolution, constitute a massive threat to African coastal communities’ maritime and aquatic resources, and the continent’s environment, and will further incentivize illegal and overfishing in her waters.
- That there has been a rise in the victimisation of Eco-defenders across the continent by oil companies and their state collaborators, and this repressive climate has been worsened in recent times by the proliferation of so-called oil and gas regulatory reforms (such as Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry Act 2021) that shrink civic space by constraining the voice and agency of extraction-affected communities in decision making related to their natural resources and environment.
Oilwatch Africa denounced efforts to lock Africa in the exploitative fossil fuels pathway to meet the energy needs of polluting nations and to feed the greed of the fossil fuels industry. To ensure a just transition and secure climate justice for our peoples, the conference made the following demands:
- There must be a halt to all new coal, oil, or gas exploration and extraction activities in Africa in line with the imperatives of the energy transition. We specifically demand the stoppage of oil exploration and expansion plans in the Virunga basin of the DRC, the Keta region of Ghana, the Okavango Delta of Botswana, the Orange River Basin in Namibia, and a halt on all plans for the West African Gas Pipeline Project, the Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline Project, and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project, among others.
- That African governments must leverage the hosting of COP27 this year to demand far-reaching measures on climate adaptation and finance, including emissions cut at the source.
- African governments should demand from polluting industrialised countries an annual climate debt of $2 trillion being the amount they currently spend on military hardware and warfare annually. This will pay for loss and damage and serve as partial reparations for historical harms.
- That oil and gas multinationals currently planning to divest and escape responsibility for their historical damage to African communities (such as Shell and Exxon Mobil in Nigeria’s Niger Delta) should restore the environment and compensate communities for ecocide committed in their territories before their exit.
- African states must develop Africa-centred and just energy transition plans where such do not exist and where they do, to mainstream such plans into broader national development plans in ways that take cognizance of Africa’s huge renewable potential.
- African countries and the African Union must tread with caution to the so-called blue economy, and especially denounce unconditionally all attempts to normalise Deep Seabed Mining (DSM) within the continent.
- International Financial Institutions, including the African Development Bank and export credit agencies to cut all financing to fossil fuel projects in Africa
- African governments and international organisations to respect the right to life of human rights and Eco-defenders in the continent who are increasingly repressed.
Adopted on the 11th of August 2022, by Oilwatch Africa members and organisations from:
- Côte d’Ivoire
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- South Africa
- South Sudan
- FishNet Alliance
- Policy Alert
- We the People
- Peace Point Development Foundation
- Oilwatch Ghana
- Oil Change International
- Host Communities Network, Nigeria
- Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria
- Kebetkache Women Development Centre
- Foundation for Development in the Sahel (FDS)
- Health of Mother Earth Foundation
- Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO)
- Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE)
- Justiça Ambiental (JA)
- Ground Work
- Friends of Lake Turkana
- Femmes Solidaire (FESO)
- Centre for Research and Action on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CRADESC)