At the height of the Cold War, Nyerere, desperate for financing of the TAZARA, dispatches a British politician, Humphry Berkeley, to tell Prime Minister Harold Wilson that the “Chinese were going full steam ahead with the project”, in a bid to try and get Western funding and avoid being perceived as anti-West.
Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s blithe reply? “The Chinese have not got the money to build the railway.”
Kaunda, on 26 October 1970, the occasion of the launch of construction works, stated;
“Campaigning against the railway had been wide and intense. The railway would be uneconomic, it was argued. We refused to listen. The railway would be too expensive in relation to economic returns, we were advised. We rejected the advice. The railway would take too long to build, it was emphasized rather discouragingly. We ignored the warning. Above all, it was argued that Zambia did not need the railway after all as UDI with all its hardships to Zambia would end in a matter of months.”
History does repeat itself, doesn’t it?
EACOP is a 1,443km electrically heated, underground pipeline that traverses Uganda and Tanzania starting at Hoima in the oil-rich Albertine Graben and terminating at Tanga Port. It is one of the most carefully studied projects of such nature. The result is an arcane amount of minutiae that is widely available on the internet.
The result being that without stepping into Uganda, one has an accurate picture of what EACOP is or entails.
Stop EACOP can be described from resources on its website as a collection of climate change activists that have found a willing, some may say prejudiced audience in Western Europe to listen to hyperbole about a very small, insignificant -at least, on a global scale- project, yet which has the greatest net positives of any oil and gas project in terms of influencing changes that help mitigate climate change.
StopEACOP states that the pipeline will generate 34 million tons of carbon emissions per year. At that rate, EACOP, a much-needed project for the over 300 million East Africans, would take more than 9 years to generate France’s over 320 million tons of carbon emissions per year or take more than 20 years to try and get to Germany’s levels of over 810 million tons of carbon emissions per year!
In this same period, the banks petitioned by StopEACOP funded the North Sea project. A moralistic cast that reads as: Bank of America, Barclays, BNP Paribas, BPCE/Natixis, Citi, Crédit Agricole, NatWest, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, ING Bank, Lloyds, Morgan Stanley, Banco Santander, Société Générale, SpareBank 1 Markets, Standard Chartered and UBS, isn’t it? (See: https://www.clientearth.org/latest/latest-updates/news/north-sea-oil-field-development-shows-banks-hypocrisy-over-climate/ ).
East Africa’s future is better assured by rapid transformation of the citizens’ lives as a result of the spin-off benefits of a petro-chemical industry; fertilizers, better paved roads, lower prices for fuel and cheaper air travel, lower prices for cooking gas, better lit classrooms, governments affording healthcare for all, education for especially the vulnerable girl child, better peace and security mechanisms and a robust inter-country investment climate owing to the transnational nature of EACOP.
StopEACOP is driven by the trope that Africa is incapable of planning a project of such magnitude with the best interest of its people in mind.
We should not allow to be the experiment for a green lobby that watches as Europe opens up new pipelines and builds new rigs in ecologically sensitive areas, but is quick to curtail our progress. The Structural Adjustment Programs, hoarding of COVID-19 vaccines during the height of the pandemic, is lesson enough that the West secures its interest first.
The 78-day conundrum
78 days is the time the United States of America would take to consume all of Uganda’s commercially verified and exploitable crude oil. All 1.5 billion barrels.
EACOP is a mere 1,443km where the USA has 2.6 million miles of pipeline!
Hypothetically, StopEACOP is akin to saying the United States go for 78 days without any fossil originated fuel/energy. Comparatively, the economic loss the USA would suffer is astronomical, but recoverable to a greater degree since they have enough capital to rapidly access other technologies, than what stopping EACOP would do to the environment, economy, political stability and fortunes of over 300 million soon to be 500 million human beings in Middle Africa.
We can have a balance between the environment and development that goes a long way in advancing and achieving the ideals of the climate change crowd. We cannot afford what is a mere 78-day trade-off for the West, but costs us another century.