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Senegal today: Corporate resource extraction, corruption: Page 3 of 3

Posted on 28 August 2019

Petroleum, battle for the exploration of the oil reserves. There is also the risk of elite capture of the hydrocarbon revenues, risk of aggravation of corruption and nepotism. Related controversies after the presidential election captured public attention during the first half of 2019, with the all-out signing of research contracts worrying civil society and many industry executives. Even though Senegal's oil contracts are being published, they are being negotiated "on the sly" between the oil companies and the Senegalese government, with some signed in total opacity. The leaders of some of the companies involved are incriminated or accused of corruption in other countries.

Added to this is the involvement of the President's brother, an agronomist, in the management of oil. President Macky Sall, two months after his first election in 2012, confirmed the decision of his predecessor to attribute the exploitation of two offshore oil and gas fields to Petro-Tim, a company owned by the businessman Frank Timis, despite the refusal of the decree of approval by the General State Inspectorate. A 2019 news report revived this controversy as it described the maneuverings between President Sall’s brother and Timis, and how the former was given a USD 250,000 bribe in 2014 by the Timis group. Pushed to the extreme, Sall’s brother finally resigned from the post.

The struggle continues amid his resignation, considered a small victory by civil society, given the extent of the corruption accusations. The struggle continues for the renegotiation of contracts for the Senegalese people’s right to the country's natural resources.

Senegal belongs to the people

Following the issues revealed in news reports, several protest actions were organized in the country. In Dakar, they were banned but, twice, protesters braved the ban. Alliances of people’s movements have also been continuing to campaign to end political repression. In particular, efforts for the freedom of the unjustly imprisoned Guy Marius Sagna, especially by the International League of Peoples’ Struggle in Senegal, have led to his release last 16 August.

Progressive movements and civil society organisations in Senegal are pushing for the disclosure of all contracts signed by government and corporations, as well as the incomes of these actors. They also see civil society participation in the committee responsible for ensuring the regularity of contracts as necessary, and stress that jobs for communities living near sites of exploration and extraction must be prioritised.

For gas and oil to be beneficial to the Senegalese, movements are asserting the need for transparent and democratic management according to the priorities and needs of the country and the people. This implies a public and democratic debate on the subject of managing these resources, but also the accountability of companies and the State and a fair distribution of revenues. In the end, for movements in Senegal, the hydrocarbons sector must be linked to, and even drive, other sectors of the economy to avoid decline in manufacturing and agriculture sectors, or what is called the "Dutch disease". ###

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