Groups lobby AfDB to decline pipeline funding

Saturday April 11 2020

afdb

AfDB headquarters in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The institution currently has 80 member countries, including the 54 states of the African continent, and 26 non-African states. PHOTO | AFBD 

By The EastAfrican

More than 100 civil society organisations from across the world have asked the African Development Bank (AfDB) to reject a request by Uganda and Tanzania to help finance the stalled East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (Eacop) project.

The concerns cited in their letter to AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina cover the project’s potentially damaging environmental, climatic and social impact, which they say are irreparable.

The multinational lobby group, including CSOs from both host countries, also launched an online petition against plans by Standard Bank, through its subsidiary Stanbic Uganda, and Japan's Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) to jointly raise a $2.5 billion loan to revive the Eacop project.

In the letter to Mr Adesina dated March 19, 2020, the lobbyists described the proposed pipeline as “exceptionally high-risk”.

The major risk is fossil fuel expansion, particularly how the resulting emissions could harm the surrounding farming communities in both countries.

Corruption and human-rights violations from large-scale land acquisition and resettlement, and threats to livelihoods, biodiversity and natural habitats along the pipeline route are other factors, the group said.

Advertisement

“We do not consider that these concerns can be adequately mitigated. As such we urge the bank not to proceed with financing this project, but to seek opportunities instead to finance genuine renewable infrastructure to help meet the region’s energy needs in a clean and rights-compatible manner in the decades to come,” the letter states.

They requested a response from Mr Adesina by April 10: So far there has been none.

Petition

Meanwhile, the accompanying petition against Stanbic Uganda and SMBC's joint loan plan, launched on March 23 on the website of 350.org (one of the lobby movement leaders), had gained 19,967 actions by Friday, with just 33 more needed to reach the 20,000 target.

The 1,445-kilometre pipeline from Hoima, Uganda to the port of Tanga in Tanzania is set to be the longest heated pipeline in the world, carrying an estimated 216,000 barrels of crude oil per day through heavily populated districts in both countries.

Initial sponsors

The pipeline was initially being sponsored by UK's Tullow, Total of France, and China National Offshore Oil Corporation Ltd.

But work on the pipeline has been suspended since August last year, when Tullow’s efforts to sell its stake to the other project sponsors stalled.

By then, preparations in both countries were already underway following the signing of an initial inter-governmental agreement between Uganda and Tanzania securing the pipeline route in May 2017.

Advertisement