Editorial Comment: Let not our oil go the diamond way

07 Nov, 2018 - 00:11 0 Views
Editorial Comment: Let not our oil go the diamond way

The Herald

A Botswana joint venture between the government and conglomerate miner De Beers founded in 1982 has seen sustained development and is one of the best examples of how African leaders can manage natural resources to improve the lives of their people.

For five consecutive years, Ethiopian Airlines has defied the odds as not just the most profitable carrier, but possibly the only profit-making airline on the continent.

In Tunisia, tourism has become a pillar of the national economy following transition from an agrarian to a service-based economy.

The common denominator? Governance!

A 1991 World Bank report defines governance as “the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development”. It is against this background that the Muzarabani oil project has been received with keen interest by not only Zimbabweans across the globe, but Africans as a whole.

For Zimbabweans, the issue is simple: We cannot make the same mistake twice. We missed the chance to convert our diamonds in Marange to a success story that would have made Africa proud.

Instead, we joined the bandwagon of “rich, but poor” African countries, but that is a closed chapter. We cannot cry over lost diamonds. Natural and conventional gas are the new buzzwords.

However, the manner in which power will be exercised in the management of our gas for development will define governance under the new order in the Second Republic. In a report we carried yesterday, Australian Stock Exchange-listed company, Invictus Energy, released a maiden resource estimate report saying the Muzarabani project had net mean recoverable conventional potential of 680 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe), consisting of 3,9 tcf and 181 million barrels of condensate or conventional gas.

The 3,9 tcf of natural gas can give the country 500 megawatts of power for 40 years, while 181 million barrels of conventional gas can give Zimbabwe enough fuel for the next 20 years at current consumption levels of 25 000 barrels per day.

President Mnangagwa must be praised for personally addressing the press on the project in a bid to ensure transparency. The whole diamond issue was a big mess. Up to this day, nobody has come out clean in terms of how much was extracted, how much was sold and how much was made.

President Mnangagwa, himself a stern fighter of corruption, has set the tone for good governance in not only the gas project, but lithium and other minerals, as well as investment as a whole.

Further, the head of State has made vast changes to his Government at both ministerial and bureaucratic level. We can only hope the new brooms will sweep clean.

The President is also seized with the war on corruption and fiscal stability. We cannot wish our problems away — they need to be tackled head-on. Also, one man can only do so much. Everyone must put shoulder to the wheel. The gods have favoured Zimbabwe with vast natural resources, but as Africa has learned, resources alone are not enough. Governance is the key ingredient.

The formula is simple: Resources + Governance = Development. How can we fail such a simple test, again?

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