This is the question many civil society organizations are asking themselves after the African Development Bank (AfDB) released a press release on Monday rejecting claims of financial support to a controversial pipeline project.
This clarification comes in response to a news article described by the bank as “inaccurate” indicating that the financial institution would plan to provide financial support to the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project.
The project whose total cost is estimated at more than 10 billion dollars consists of the construction of a giant oil pipeline of 1.445 km long aiming at transporting the discovered oil in the heart of the protected natural park of Murchison Falls in Uganda, thus impacting large territories in both Uganda and Tanzania, as well as the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people living along the proposed pipeline route. Two companies, one Chinese (China National Offshore Oil Corporation Ltd and the other French Total SA are involved in the oil extraction while Standard Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation are the hitherto known financiers of the project.
Confronted with the multiple threats posed by the project, local communities have come together to organise resistance. Community and media mobilisations, open letters and an online petition, all tactics are being used to oppose a project which, once carried out, would cause the expropriation of tens of thousands of people, the destruction of rich biodiversity and water resources and severe impacts in terms of GHG emissions (with an estimated production of 200,000 barrels/day)
The AfDB said it ‘has not provided financing to any Private Sector Company for upstream oil or gas pipeline projects in East Africa’ and hasn’t made any commitment in that regard. However, the bank did not say that it would end funding for any oil and gas project. AfDB statement confirmed that the bank is “firmly committed to promoting renewable energy”. In September 2019, the President of the African Development Bank said that coal has no place in Africa and that the future is in renewables.
Struggles against similar oil and gas projects continue elsewhere on the continent. To stay below 1.5 ° C of global warming, more than 80% of the already known fossil reserves must remain in the ground. That will involve the stopping of new coal, gas or oil projects.