Kenya - Risk Of Conflict If Oil Wealth Not Shared


The Kenyan government must share revenues from its newfound oil reserves with the communities in its impoverished north to avoid armed insurrections, the minister for the region said.
In March, Kenya announced its first oil discovery by British-based explorer Tullow Oil in remote Turkana County, which borders South Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda.

"My nightmare is to have a Kony-type group say: 'You marginalised us all these years and this is our wealth and therefore we want to break away', and basically just start an insurgency that's endless," Mohamed Elmi, Minister for Northern Kenya and Other Arid Lands, told AlertNet in an interview.
He was referring to Joseph Kony, an internationally wanted war crimes suspect whose Lord's Resistance Army has trapped much of north Uganda in a nightmare of bloodshed, hunger and fear.
East Africa has become a hot spot for oil and gas exploration. Neighbouring South Sudan is an oil producer, while commercial oil deposits were found in Uganda, and there are vast natural gas deposits in Tanzania and Mozambique.
In Kenya's Turkana County, 60 percent of the population are pastoralists who depend upon their livestock for survival. Successive droughts have hit them hard, leaving millions dependent on food aid.
The sun-baked, scrubby beige flatlands are awash with small arms, often smuggled over the border from neighbours such as Somalia.
Cattle rustling and clashes over grazing land and water are common among pastoralists, with well-armed raiders often crossing over from Ethiopia and Uganda to steal cattle.
"There are high levels of poverty. There are excessive illegal arms. In Upper Rift Valley alone in around 1997, it was estimated that they had over 200,000 guns," said Elmi, interviewed during a trip to the Turkana district capital Lodwar.
The Ngamia-1 well, where oil was discovered, is in the Lokichar basin that is part of the East African Rift System.
"I don't see how any legislation will pass without saying a certain amount will go to the county for its development, purely for the security side, to avoid problems," the minister said.

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