Will exploiting oil resources in Chad foster development in one of Africa’s poorest countries?
This question was raised by the Jesuit-sponsored Centre of Studies and Formation for Development (CEFOD, Centre d’Études et de Formation pour le Développement www.cefod.org) in N’Djamena. After thirty years of exploration and the discovery of oilfields, in October 2000, one of the biggest oil ventures in Africa was begun, with the support of the World Bank: a 1,070-km pipeline from Chad to Cameroon. Eradicating poverty is the main goal of Chad leaders, but it constitutes an enormous challenge, and it would be naive to think that oil-rich resources automatically translate into national development. The technology and the capital invested do not belong to the local people, who cannot influence the policy of the multinational corporations engaged in the exploitation. During the period of the pipeline construction, we have seen a number of failures, — writes Antoine Berilengar SJ in the CEFOD magazine Tchad et Culture. — In particular, the weakness of local business, the decisions about employment and the environment; growing inflation; the lack of skills of the local people; the degradation of social life all these failures, if not properly addressed, can seriously compromise development.
CEFOD reminds that democratic and decentralised structures, good governance, sound social and economic policies, and access to the market for the poor are all fundamental conditions for the overall development of the country. A centre of studies and reflection since 1966, CEFOD aims at responding to the training needs of Chadian high-ranking civil servants in the economic and social sectors.