Barrack Obama makes his historic visit to Africa. Born of a Kenyan
economist father, Obama will go not to his ancestral lands but to
Ghana, Africa’s newest oil State.
was discovered in Ghana just in 2007. A wide swath of the Atlantic‘s
Western shores, the area stretching from Morocco to Angola is becoming
Africa’s “Oil Gulf”. Oil-producing countries in Africa, including
those in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea, now provide 24%
of U.S. oil imports. Africa has outstripped the Middle
East as an oil supplier to America. Increasingly, Africa’s oil is
being produced offshore.
Ghana’s deep Atlantic shores, the Texas-based, Kosmos
Energy already controls the Jubilee Fields, one of the largest
oil finds in West Africa in the past decade, which is predicted
to hold 1.2 billion barrels of oil. In May, 2009 Kosmos began to
draw bids for shares of its stake in the oil-rich fields. Global
energy players - Chevron Corp, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, China
National Offshore Oil Company, and British Petroleum - all with
a focused eye on Africa, and a bloodied record on the continent
are beginning to circle like vultures. After all, the deadline
for Kosmos Energy Bids has been set for July 17, a week after Obama’s
visit to Ghana.
heightened interest in Africa’s oil, the U.S. has moved to strengthen
its military (and naval) presence in Africa’s “Oil Gulf”. In October
2008, the U.S. Africa
Command was officially established. Transplanting a framework
from the Middle East, U.S. military assets would be aimed at securing
Africa’s oil, and seeking so-called “terrorists”.
The U.S. Africa Command claims to “help Africans help themselves”.
The Command lists humanitarian missions like dental clinics, building
of schools, wells, etc. What is more opaque is the intent to train
and arm proxy militaries that can secure and sustain the ever-present
fix for the United States’ addiction to fossil fuels.
human rights and social justice activists are expressing concerns
that President Obama’s high profile visit may be a fig leaf for
covert plans to further U.S. military expansion in Africa and move
the U.S. Africa Command from its current site in Stuttgart to an
Ghanaians and other Africans are clamoring for a new direction in
U.S. Africa policy, one based in mutual interests and mutual respect.
the Obama administration curb the thrust towards a militarized foreign
policy by reversing the advance of AFRICOM and U.S. military expansion
importantly, can the Obama administration transfer its rhetorical
commitment to a green economy into concrete policies that end our
addiction to oil?
long term impact of Obama’s trip to Ghana may well be viewed through
the lens of these critical questions.
Editorial Board member Emira Woods is the co-director of Foreign
Policy In Focus at the Institute
for Policy Studies in Washington, DC. She was born in Liberia.
Ezekiel Pajibo is executive director of the Liberia-Based Center
for Democratic Empowerment. Click
here to contact Ms. Woods.
In the weeks leading up to President
Obama's historic visit to Ghana, a coalition of civil society groups
and organizations around the world came together to formulate a
collective vision of a new United States engagement with Africa.
Please find below a letter detailing this vision that has been sent
to President Obama. This letter has been endorsed by 31 leading
Africa advocacy organizations as well more than 200 individuals.
to read the letter.
to read "What Obama Should Say in Ghana" by Foreign Policy In Focus contributor
Charles Abugre is a Ghanaian economist and the policy director of
Christian Aid. The views expressed in this article should not be
attributed to Christian Aid.
to read "Straight Talk: Revealing the Real U.S.-Africa Policy"
LeMelle, a contributor to Foreign
Policy In Focus and executive director of Africa
to read "Niger Delta Standoff" by Kia
Mistilis, a contributor to Foreign
Policy In Focus and an independent journalist and photographer
based in San Francisco. She has documented places as diverse as
New York City and the villages of East Timor.
here to read the
BOOKLET On the occasion of President Barack Obama’s visit to Ghana