Politics has been central to the progress, or lack thereof, in developing East Africa’s oil. And it will continue to be.
It was not long ago that East Africa was the shining frontier of the continent’s oil scene. Uganda sparked the rush in 2006 after wildcatters ventured deep inland and made Africa’s largest onshore discoveries in decades. And Kenya’s northwestern Turkana region continued the run with new oilfields found in 2012.
With crude prices averaging almost $112 per barrel at that time, it was hoped these fresh discoveries could be linked up with a new regional pipeline network stretching from South Sudan to the coast. It was believed that oil could economically transform the East African region.
Yet a decade on, little progress has been made on the pipeline, while Uganda and Kenya’s oil remains trapped far from international markets.
Security risks have hindered developments, while the steep drop in crude prices from late-2014 has slowed things down. However, politics – both domestic and regional – have also been central to the delays.
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