There’s a new oil boom in West and Central Africa. In the next 10 years the world’s major energy companies will pump more than $200 million of investment into the region. This sum dwarves the international aid efforts for some of the poorest nations on the face of the earth.
In this landmark series for BBC World Service, “Profit and Loss: The Story of African Oil", writer and broadcaster Maurice Walsh asks whether the ordinary citizens of Africa will see any benefit as oil and gas are extracted and the revenues roll in to government coffers.
Conflict and corruption
In the past, oil has all too often fostered conflict and corruption in Africa rather than economic development. Walsh looks back at the recent history of Nigeria and Gabon, where four decades of oil exploration have significantly failed to enrich the people, and at lessons for new oil producers like the tiny island republic of Sao Tome and Principe and the desperately poor nation of Chad.
Walsh paints a series of vivid radio portraits of four very different petro-states. He meets a generation of African politicians who profess a new determination not to squander the natural resources of their nations; and he quizzes the economists and international financial institutions who are experimenting with new ways to lift the curse of African oil.
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