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Oil brings development to Africa

The Economist describes how a major oil find in Northern Kenya has brought the possibility of development to an area that was once far from the benefits of civilisation. With oil prices low, it's all on hold for the moment, but even so, benefits have started to flow:

If and when it happens, Turkana will get its first paved roads, power stations and water treatment plants. Yet the knock-on effects of the oil boom are already evident and reach well beyond infrastructure. Drillers have found not just oil but reportedly also several large underground aquifers that could supply the bone-dry region with water for decades. Pastoralists might in future be able to grow crops. A man with a jerry-rigged distillery in a thatched hut near Tullow’s camp says: “We thought oil would bring us jobs and it’s done that—at least for some. But it’s so much more, both good and bad.”

And this:

The path to development will be bumpy, and elites will eat a disproportionate share of the rewards. Yet it is hard to find anyone in the county who would rather have been born in an earlier age.

Nevertheless, in the comments below the piece, you can find an environmentalist protesting.

If this is the future than we're all not going to have one.

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Reader Comments (16)

Isn't it lovely how an environmentalist with Internet access can deride people seeking to live.

Jul 14, 2015 at 11:47 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Dirty coal and dangerous coal mining brought pollution and lung disease yet it made Britain a cleaner and more sanitary place, and increased longevity - and the total number that could enjoy those longer lives. As with Britain and coal so with Kenya and oil.

Jul 14, 2015 at 12:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoseph Sydney

At the government’s insistence, they hired thousands of locals as labourers, filling empty pockets in Kenya’s poorest region and erecting Turkana’s tallest building, a two-storey house.
That's the sort of Government regulation that makes extractive industries successful. Frackers take note.

The green who wants to keep the oil in the ground and the Africans starving should have read the article more closely. Note the Chinese investment.
If Canada and London don't help the Kenyans develop their economy the Kenyans won't obediently stay poor. They have options and they won't be held down forever.

Jul 14, 2015 at 12:31 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

M Courtney, it is of significance that China is 'investing' in developing countries because the 'civilised' nations of Europe and North America won't.

When the UN needs international votes for support, how many countries will now vote with China? If the USA has dominated the UN since inception (rightly or wrongly), the balance of power is starting to shift East (rightly or wrongly)

And all because the Greens loathe CO2.

Jul 14, 2015 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

M Courtney
have agreed with the thrust of several of your comments recently (not just here), thought it time to say so. Good to agree in general terms with someone from a different part of the political spectrum.

Jul 14, 2015 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Agreed. If there is a large amount of extractable hydrocarbons in the Fylde then ultimately some of it can be used to finance the road improvements and maybe support a new School of Engineering at The University of Central Lancashire in Preston.

But I bet those kind of questions don't get asked in fracking surveys and the industry needs some better PR, as others have noted.

Jul 14, 2015 at 2:06 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Thank you SandyS. It feels warm an' fuzzy not to be reviled just for being on the left as so often happens at WUWT.

Although I'm still proposing Government regulations as well as investment and economic growth.

And I'm still so lefty I'm rooting for Piers Corbyn's brother in the Labour leadership race. Not least because it would baffle the revilers at WUWT.

Jul 14, 2015 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterMCourtney

Jul 14, 2015 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterMCourtney......I take it you were around when Michael Foot became leader of the labour party. That went well I believe ! :)

Jul 14, 2015 at 2:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterIvor Ward

@MCourtney: If Jeremy Corbyn gets in, he will be able to get propper advice about this silly CO2 nonsense, as Piers is a real scientist!

Jul 14, 2015 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

As has been pointed out coal is dirty, but not as dirty as the wood that preceded it. Coal has been improved cosmetically and healthwise to some extent by scrubbers and electrostatic, however the smallest 0.01% of particles not removed are the most dangerous.
Having access to reliable electricity is the best correlation with life expectancy worldwide. Gas fired stations are the most thermally efficient and the cheapest to build. The Chinese will mass produce them I would think.

Jul 14, 2015 at 3:12 PM | Unregistered Commentersrga

M Courtney, I do agree with most of what you say, but Mr Corbyn will not baffle the UK electorate. That is why he has so much support from the right of centre, hoping he will consign Michael Foot into second place about writing lengthy political suicide notes.

Jul 14, 2015 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

M Courtney, golf charlie. Americans tend to take their politics much more seriously than we do. We usually despise both sides and vote for the one we think is currently least awful.

Jul 14, 2015 at 6:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Back to a golden age...

The rustling of cardinal silk
and whisperings in
the corridors of power,
the reaching of far-flung
authority, of indulgences
penned by industrious scribes,
while on the slopes outside,
peasants scrabble
for scraps from the priests' table,

Jul 15, 2015 at 2:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterBeth Cooper

The issue is political instability, that is, risk. Companies from the first world have been burned many times over the decades by corrupt or simply incompetent local governments, finding their investments stolen and then destroyed. As someone from South America once told me in reference to foreign capital, "they used to take advantage of us but now they won't even look our way".

Filling the gap is the green machine doing work of the old missionaries, nothing other than turning poverty into misery. For an "environmentalist" the only African that is acceptable is one that begs.

So the Chinese are stepping in, willing to take the risk. Everyone will benefit as long as the economic context is capitalism, that is, freedom to do what you want with what is yours.

Jul 15, 2015 at 7:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

Bunch of scumbag econimbies.

Jul 15, 2015 at 8:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

"Africa’s biggest wind farm is being built east of Lake Turkana at a cost of $1 billion and will bring cheap and plentiful electricity."
Well, at least while the wind blows. I guess that's better than NO electricity. But surely an oil fired power station will be more reliable, and cost a lot less to build?

Jul 24, 2015 at 5:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterClunking Fist

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