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Thursday, 14 June 2007

Skeptical optimism..

I was skeptical last year about the oil and gas discoveries given the odd timing of the announcments (during a parliamentary contest in the relevant province). But now that the story is not dying away, I am filled with cautious optimism - could it really be true?

According to
Reuters, Magande seems to be planning a bidding round of companies already for "exploration". He is quoted as saying " we are now preparing the newspaper advertisement to invite interested parties to bid for the exploration on 25 blocks, and in the next few weeks or so we should be tendering for this".

But then I am skeptical again. A part of me starts to hope its not true, because if indeed plans are offshoot on tendering for exploration, then announcing it at the "sidelines" of the World Economic Forum before the Zambian people are actually told of the plans, is not the correct way to proceed. A large percentage of our population do not have access to the web and hence have no idea of Government's immediate plans. If Zambia is going to do this properly and avoid the "resource curse" associated with oil and gas, we must be transparent from the start - information between the people and the Government is paramount.


  1. cho,
    I must say I was also skeptical and worried at the possibility of this discovery. I agree with you that the Zambain people should be involved in the discussion from the onset other wise we could be another Nigeria.
    Have you heard about the Uranium discovery? Talk about something worrying. I hope its just street talk and nothing more.

  2. Cho,
    I just realized that you've talked about the Uranium issue. Hey am just trying to catch up with your blog bro.

  3. lol!!

    don't worry...every subject is current here!

    yes, the Uranium....why are you worried?

    do you think we could attract "bad chaps"....? or are you worried we would have too many resources we will run out of ideas? or is it that we won't actually get a penny because it belongs to Equinox? lol!!

    on the issue of "bad chaps".....
    I of course think the Chinese are just like any other investor, motivated by private interest....but I read today that China's military influence is gathering pace on the continent..

    Over the last year or two they have doubled their Military Attache offices...Zambia has one....actually when I was in Zed over Xmas, I witnessed an accident involving a Chinese Military official driving at full pace on the Kabwe - Lusaka road. He was not observing the speed limiting. So their car flipped at one of the sharp corners. It was quite bad.

  4. Cho, Campbell,

    The problem with uranium is that it can be used to make nuclear weapons or just a 'dirty bomb'. As such, it is highly prized by governments and terrorists alike. Securing such deposits can be interpreted as being in the international interest.

    It is no good to have such materials owned by a foreign corporation, instead of the state.

    It directly threatens Zambian sovereignty through foreign intervention/invasion.

    What if the international media decided to villify the president of Zambia they way they have the president of Zimbabwe? They could easily drum up a case to invade to 'secure Zambia's uranium deposits'.

    Uranium is a matter of national security, and if anything it's presence should be enough to move against Equinox and nationalise Lumwana Mine.

    And here is another thing - when was this uranium actually discovered? Before or after these deals were signed?

    I guess what we need is an investigative reporter like Greg Palast, or Woodward and Bernstein (when they were young). :)

  5. MrK,

    That lady who made "life and debt" is a good example of investigative journalism.

  6. Zambia is not an IAEA member state so the uranium can't be exported. Even afterward Zambia joins it's not going to be enriched in Zambia.

    People have known that Zambia had uranium deposits for years. The problem is the deposits aren't as rich as in DRC for example. It costs $10 to mine a pound of Zambian uranium. After the fall of the Soviet Union the price of uranium fell to around $10 so there was no point in mining it. Now that the price is over $100 per pound it's a different story.

    The price of uranium is going to keep on going up because of the concern over green house gasses.

  7. error,

    thanks for the link...

    does this mean I should start joing the "climate change" bandwagon to hype up the pressure? now I know we have something to gain :)

    before I had serious reservations on the Stern Review and the IPCC work...not just for the uncertainty over "economics" but mainly because the fight against climate change is diverting resources away from the poor...

    but after you uranium link...i feel a bit better :)

  8. The important questions that should be answered assuming that Zedians are not being fed another 'David livingstone hoax' or another 'oil from grass project' is how much control will be given to private hands and how much will be in the hands of the Zambian government. In Western Europe it impossible for a foreign company to control more than 50% of oil and gas reserves. I am no suggesting their no legal ways to get round this through local partnerships. But to borrow the phrase from my former high school headmaster 'I for one' would not be suprised to see that 100% control is given to foreign companies. I am simply advocating 30% private ownership, 30% private and zambian partnership and 40% government control. Would that be fessible I doubt it. The corporations are too powerful and the truth is that whoever controls the oil and gas reserves controls the world. This is not so much about economics for big oil companies they already have bigger and better sources in the Middle East (courtesy of George Bush connection) and Northern canadian territories. For them it will be about controlling the source through local political institutions.

  9. You know KK might say he meant "bioethanol"...
    Except if he said "oil from sugar cane" we might have believed him :) I watched a CNN special on Brazil's bioethanol industry. Most cars in Brazil are powered by biothenol. The whole nation is full of sugar plantations!

    But you are right on the ownership model. 30% foreign seems about the maximum that Government should allow.

    Interesting times ahead indeed.
    I wonder what the Nigerians have done with Shell and other people there.


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