Chad-Cameroon discussions reach peak

15 June 1999

The Bank is due to decide in the next few weeks whether to support the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline. Chad’s Country Assistance Strategy will come to the Bank’s Board in July, and loans for the project itself in September. NGOs remain concerned about a number of issues, for example the amount of money that Chad and Cameroon can expect to gain, what this will be used for, the security/human rights situation in the two countries and how well the project’s villager compensation and environmental strategy will be implemented.

The Bank’s Country Strategy states that: “the likely development prospects in the absence of oil are bleak.” It estimates that oil revenues will average between $45m and 270m per year during the first seven years of full oil production (depending on oil prices) and says that a new Revenue Management Law for Chad will ensure it is invested in human resources and infrastructure.

Bank project staff also claim that there is

“a general consensus now in Chad that the project provides a potentially powerful tool to fight poverty”.

The Bank is overlooking an April declaration by Chadian civil society groups and a document sent out by Chadian NGO network CILONG in May. These requested a two year moratorium on project approval so that more studies and consultations can take place on remaining controversial issues.

As Jaroslava Colajacomo of the Riforma della Banca Mondiale, Italy, points out

“They are now almost ready to drill the oil. No major problems are envisaged. The consortium’s behaviour on compensation and the important violations of Bank’s environmental and social guidelines are just ignored”.

A critique by German NGO Urgewald of the Bank’s leaked Country Strategy stresses the poor experience of other countries which relied too heavily on oil for development and that the Bank’s optimistic assertion of “a serious effort of transition towards democracy” is not shared by the US State Department.

Further information, including the April Bebedja Declaration, available from Korinna Horta,