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« Book Review: The 1961 Cameroon Plebiscite: Choice or Betrayal (An Eyewitness Account of a UN Plebiscite Officer) | Main | Cameroon’s “Cursed” Children »

June 13, 2008

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Nubio

So Cameroon imports petrol despite supposably being a producer? Our government - as the representatives of the people - needs to tell us:

1. What arrangements it has signed with the expatriate oil companies.

2. What measures it implements to ensure that the oil companies are not taking out more crude oil than they are declaring.

3. Why Cameroon is importing petrol, despite producing more than it needs.

4. The amount of oil Cameroon has produced since exploitation began and how much income Cameroon has earned from this.

Biya certainly has a lot to answer for. The truth will emerge and there will be no mercy when the time of judgement comes.

George Esunge

Dear Nubio,

Let me tell you a story about why Cameroon imports fuel:

In 1979 when the sole refinery we've got was built, by some margin of stupidity or oversight, the authorities or their advisers managed to construct a structure that was ill-adapted to processing the heavy crude from the gulf of guinea coastline. We thus ended up with a white elephant (almost as the Nsimalen International Airport).

I gather that, the authorities may have been quite aware of this misnomer. But they preferred to go by this system given the oil bubble of the 1970s. In their greedy minds, they considered that, it would make more money to sell crude (at high prices) and thus use some of the money to buy light crude to refine for national use.

At the time, Cameroon's production rate was pretty high. Moreover, there was a stabilisation fund that used the excess from crude sales to bear the shocks of the international oil markets. In reality we were living beyond our means. Factually, we had taken the short-cut to being rich and that could not last.

With lots of mis-management,corruption and the economic plunge that characterised the 1980s and 90s; the bubble burst. We got into structural adjustment and the state was advised to withdraw from intervening in market issues. Subsidising fuel was one of such points.

A bankrupt state that had depleted its own back-up resources became a simple sellam-buyam without much gain. We were thus exposed to fluctuations. Now we realised that the idea to contruct a refinery that does not refine our own fuel isn't as profitable as we thought.

But the problem now, as the article above suggests is: where do we have the money to construct another refinery when we are so broke? We are barely living from hand to mouth (as they would say in the quartier)!

The money that we got from exporting crude oil when the times were happier? That is another story...I will narrate that one another day (if you do not mind).

For now here are some themes developed from the refinery story:

Poor leadership;
poor economic advice;
lack of vision;
greed;
corruption;
embezzlment;
mis-management;
absence of love for one's community;
global economic problems;

cheers,
George

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