By EMEKA OKOROANYANWU
Ahead of the this year’s Annual General Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) which kicks off on Thursday in Tokyo, Japan, the bank has launched a new fund to help Nigeria and other oil producing African countries level the playing field and ensure equitable deals in their natural resource contracts with international companies.
This will definitely gladden the hearts of over 40 African Finance ministers who will congregate this weekend in Tokyo, Japan for this year’s Annual General Meetings of the World Bank and the IMF. Nigeria is at present battling resistance to its Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) that seeks to free the oil industry from the stranglehold of oppressive international oil cabals who control over 60 per cent of its oil wealth.
With Africa holding 15 per cent of the world’s oil reserves, 40per cent of its gold, and about 80per cent of the platinum group of metals, natural resources represent important development opportunities for the continent. For example, oil production has been growing steadily in Africa, and is expected to continue to rise at an average rate of six percent per year for the foreseeable future.
This follows the recent discovery of oil in many African countries of late. At the 40th Anniversary Meeting of the Zone Franc Monetary Union in Paris last week, attended by over 20 African Finance Ministers, the French government strongly supported the new fund, and encouraged other governments and donors to back the Bank initiative.
“We stand fully behind the World Bank in its efforts to help African countries secure the best-possible mineral contracts with international companies in order to promote the long-term development of their countries and the wider continent.
We urge other governments and donors to also support this new World Bank initiative,” said French Finance Minister, Pierre Moscovici. Welcoming the French government’s strong support, the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa, Makhtar Diop, said the new fund would work closely with the African Development Bank and other partners for maximum impact, and would welcome donor support to expand its reach.
“It is clear that Africa sits on top of extraordinary wealth and that these natural resources could be transformational for the continent,” said Diop. “Being able to negotiate the best-possible deals is essential for African