Being Resolutions of the 2023 Oilwatch Africa Conference and Annual General Meeting Held at Royal Saly, Senegal on the 6th -12th of August, 2023.
Africa has clearly emerged as the new frontier of gas extraction. A new ‘gas boom’ driven by Europe’s desperate search for new sources outside its dependence on Russian gas is driving this new wave of natural resource capture on the African continent. Historically, Nigeria, Egypt, Libya, and Algeria have been the most notable gas extraction hotspots on the continent. Increasingly, we have seen the emergence of new entrants into the scramble including Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, Mauritania, South Africa, Ethiopia, and Morocco, where huge gas reserves have been found. Clearly, Africa is once again faced with a spate of resource capture, reminiscent of Africa’s historical relationship with the global north.
This new fossil resource capture is coming at a time when Africa and indeed the whole world is experiencing some of the worst impacts of fossil fuel-induced climate change. We note in particular extreme weather events including droughts, wildfires, cyclones, sea level rises and floods, and the impacts these events have on our people. We also note the rising spate of climate-induced conflicts and migrations, the rising food crisis and poverty, the health challenges and other social impacts being driven by the climate crisis. While the continent and its people are on the frontlines of the worst impacts of the climate crisis, we have seen African leaders getting more and more sucked into the hypnotic web of false solutions that intensify dependence on fossil fuels. We note specifically the promises of techno-fixes for climate change including different theories of carbon removal, solar radiation management, carbon capture and storage, REDD+ and other carbon offsets fairy tales fueled by failed capitalist market mechanisms.
On the backdrop of the escalating climate crisis, the increasing appetite for fossil fuels, and the new wave of carbon colonialism, Oilwatch Africa alongside representatives of oil communities across the continent, non-governmental organisations, the academia, environmental and climate activists, women’s rights leaders and the media met in Mbour Saly, Senegal, between 6th – 12th of August 2023, for the annual Oilwatch Africa Conference and General Assembly with the theme “Decolonizing African Energy”.
Among others, the gathering deliberated and observed the following;
- That Africa will be faced with more intense resource extraction in the face of the current global energy crisis caused mainly by the Russia- Ukraine conflict. We already see these pressures in places like Goxou Mbac where communities are being forced to leave their homes and fishing livelihoods for the commencement of gas drilling in their ocean.
- That despite Africa’s enormous natural resources, the continent and its people remain poor and heavily dependent on aid from the West. The bulk of the resources extracted from the continent has not been used for the benefit of its people, instead they are routinely extracted for export.
- That in parts of the continent, multinational oil companies that are heavily complicit in ecological damage, livelihood losses, health hazards and human rights abuses are attempting to abdicate their responsibility under the cover of divestment. We note in particular the happenings in Nigeria’s Niger Delta where new scientific evidence has revealed the complicity of oil companies in ecocide valued at over $12 billion, among many other factual reports of the ecological and human damages they have caused.
- That the current global conversation around energy transition is being carried on as merely a movement from one form of energy source to another. It should instead be structured as a holistic departure that also addresses the inequalities and injustices created by the Fossil Age.
- That loss and damage is currently being bandied about as a gift or goodwill aid to Africa and other parts of the global south, even when we have contributed the least to creating the conditions of climate change.
- That Africa is witnessing the emergence of environmental refugees who have had to flee their ancestral and indigenous lands and livelihoods on account of climate change. In Senegal, we see an increasing number of refugees camped in sub-human conditions at Khar-Yallah in Senegal and others abandoned at a makeshift camp. In these places, several extended families are compelled to share rooms and other facilities and exist without water, power, and sanitation.
On the power of the above observations, the Oilwatch Africa General Meeting adopts the following resolutions;
- Oilwatch Africa rejects all new gas projects being planned for or currently being constructed across Africa. These projects are designed solely to extract gas from Africa for export and not to meet the energy needs of Africa. Oilwatch Africa calls on financial institutions including the African Development Bank, the World Bank and other sponsors of extractive projects to cut all financing of fossil fuel projects in Africa. Africa will not be gassed and incinerated.
- Oilwatch Africa rejects in totality all initiatives to expand fossil fuel extraction in Africa. We reject in particular new extractions in the Okavango Basin in Namibia and Botswana, in the Saloum Delta in Senegal, Cabo Delgado in Mozambique, frontier basins in Nigeria, etc. We demand the immediate stoppage of pipeline expansions in the Virunga basin of DRC, the Keta region of Ghana, the Okavango Delta of Botswana, the Orange River Basin in Namibia, the West African Gas Pipeline project, the Trans Sahara Gas Pipeline project and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline project among others. We declare that Africa does not need any more oil wells or pipes buried in its rivers and lands.
- Oilwatch Africa insists that loss and damage is not charity. Loss and damage is an ecological debt and reparations for the life-altering impacts of climate change caused by extractivism and driven by corporate greed and capitalism. Loss and damage funds must go directly to frontline communities who live with the daily negative impacts as a matter of right not charity.
- Oilwatch Africa calls on national governments, communities and civil society leaders in Africa and solidarity partners all over the world to hold multinational oil companies currently making frantic efforts to divest and abandon their toxic oil assets to first account for their ecological footprints. In particular, we demand that oil companies that have operated in Nigeria’s Niger Delta for over 6 decades be held to account for the environmental, health and livelihood impacts their activities have engendered.
- Oilwatch Africa calls on national governments, communities and civil society leaders in Africa and solidarity partners all over the world to undertake measures to protect eco defenders and rights activists in Africa who are coming under increased threats by state and non-state agents.
- Oilwatch Africa warns that COP 28 in the United Arab Emirates should not be converted into another fossil industry and false solutions jamboree, including a space for the promotion of so-called nature-based solutions, Net Zero, carbon neutrality, carbon offsetting, etc. The realities of climate change can no longer tolerate these shenanigans. We demand a COP that has two items on its agenda; drastically cutting emissions at source and paying reparations for losses and damages.
- Oilwatch Africa stands in solidarity with the people of Ecuador as they take a critical vote to leave the oil in the ground at Yasuni ITT
- Oilwatch Africa denounces the continuing victimization and killing of activists calling for democratic reforms in Swaziland. We reiterate the call for an independent inquiry into the assassination of Thulani Maseko on 21st January 2023. We demand the assurance of the safety of defenders who have been hounded by the forces of their absolute monarchy and his government.
This declaration is adopted and duly endorsed by the following member countries
- Côte d’Ivoire
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- South Sudan
- South Africa
Read the declaration in French here