30 August 2012

Resource Conflict 2.0? ~ Corporate Grab for Africa

AlJaz OpEd piece by OpenOil founder Johnny West spots The corporate scramble for Africa, arguing that...
"If it continues to be business as usual in Africa, it could set the stage for Resource Conflict 2.0. [...] the struggle we are witnessing -- workers and local communities against corporate giants and in some cases their own governments -- is not just unfolding in South Africa. There is a new corporate scramble for Africa's natural resources. [...] Conflict exists at two levels. Across the continent governments are stirring, feeling that now is the time to increase their take. [...] But it's the community level where the conflict is more explosive. [...] Local communities are more assertive and more connected -- mobile phone penetration is expected to top 70 per cent across the continent by the end of the year, and even casual visitors cannot but be struck by their ubiquity. The companies have noticed this too. Surveys consistently show resource nationalism is their biggest concern, and their literature now makes much of obtaining a "social license to operate" and the need to get the message of all their community activities out there. But the typical big extractive company's view of corporate citizenship is about as evolved as a Victorian gentlewoman's programme of good works. For many, corporate social responsibility departments are window dressing and, deeper in the bowels of the company, closer to its real power centres, the view persists that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, and the more they can fly under the radar the better. [...] Three things are needed: levelling up the playing field when African governments negotiate with Big Oil or Big Mining so that agreements are fairer; commitment by the companies to radical growth of the local skills base; and by governments to radical transparency, of a kind not seen before."
Read the whole thing, please.

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