Over the weekend, the Tanzanian press finally began to pick up the leaked Statoil PSA story, prompted by Zitto Kabwe’s comments on the issue (in English and Swahili).
The Guardian made the story its front page lead on Saturday (5/7/14), while other papers caught up on Monday (7/7/14): This Day (front page lead); Mwananchi, Nipashe and Mtanzania (second or third on front page); and Daily News – see slideshow below. Majira had a cartoon today (see above), as did The Guardian on Sunday (see bottom of post). This Day also printed in full my piece in African Arguments last week.
The leaked Statoil contract (see here for background) is a big deal. Tanzania could well lose out on several hundred million dollars a year from just this contract (compared to the terms of the model contract). It should be the big political story of the moment, perhaps of the year.
When the parliamentary committee on economic affairs, industry and trade noted the bad deal in a report (pdf, Swahili), it led to zero coverage in the media.
Natural gas is a game changer in Tanzania, both economically and politically. The latest reports suggest that there may be as much as 51 trillion cubic feet available, not huge by global standards, but enough to have raised expectations sky high – see cartoon. The public and policy makers are excited, and it’s already having significant effects on both local and national politics.
“One Minister stated in the Parliament that “with the natural gas reserves Tanzania has, poverty will be history”. How I wish it was that simple! A plus and minus equation. Unfortunately the reality is opposite. There are chains of evidence that resources, due to many factors engraved within a ‘lesser’ leader, may lead to curse.”
Around three quarters of the respondents have heard about the discoveries of natural gas, and yet every two out of three would wish to be provided with more information.
While 28 percent are aware that benefits from the large off-shore gas reserves will take time to materialize, 36 percent believe that gas companies are already earning money from these resources. Continue reading →