It’s serious: lots of oil and a new scramble for (east) Africa.
We’ve known for about a month that China had found serious oil and gas reserves in northern Kenya. And we’ve known for about that same amount of time China had found new oil reserves in Uganda. And we’ve presumed for wont of anything contrary, that the expected new state of Southern Sudan will have lots of oil.
And we knew when President Kibaki came back from the Shanghai expo, that China wanted to transform the little tropical paradise of Lamu into Africa’s biggest oil port.
Well, guess who also knows: Japan.
Japanese interests, according to Nairobi’s Business Daily, are upset at the $200 million dollar no-restriction grant that President Kibaki walked home with from Shanghai, although it’s suppose to begin planning the Lamu port.
Hello modernity, good bye remote tropical paradise.
The port is now estimated to cost $16 billion, of which China has offered to put up almost 97%. It is projected to have a total of 22 berths with a quay that will lie on 1,000 acres.
But Japan is sticking itself into the oily works. President Kibaki – bless his little crafty soul – is using the Chinese grant to hire Japanese consultants to create the feasibility study!
Home run for Kenya.
“This is likely to be the most fought after project between the two countries as they seek to enhance their economic and political dominance, ” said Dr Joseph Kieyah, a senior researcher at Kenya Institute of Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA).
Japan has always been the sweeter donor to East Africa, with often unrestricted aid for truly humanitarian projects. China has never done that. So from the perspective of who would be the better friend, Japan has a leg up.
But both countries have been awarded provincial drilling rights in the southern Sudan, pending that country’s maturation into state hood after a March, 2011, referendum.
Last month, Toyota Tsusho, the car maker’s trading arm, announced plans to build a $1.5 billion oil pipeline from South Sudan to the Kenyan coast, complete with an oil export terminal.
So China builds the port and the roads in Kenya, and Japan builds the pipeline from The Sudan. I hope they’re friends.
But what this means – with the extraordinary amounts of money that are being talked about – is that both China and Japan view the southern Sudan and Kenya as its only outlet as a new Nigeria.
The estimated cost of the port and the pipeline ($17.5 billion), represents about half of all of East Africa’s 2003 GDP. More than amazing: mind blowing.
Get to Kenya quick. Things are going to change.