Tag Archives: Tanzania

Zanzibar misled into flagging Iran oil

ZANZIBAR, Tanzania — Zanzibar says it is in the process of de-registering 36 Iranian oil tankers that bear the flag of Tanzania after an investigation proved their true origins.

Zanzibar Vice President Seif Ali Iddi told the House of Representatives on Friday that his government would also terminate the contract of Philtex, a Dubai-based contracting agency that is accused of misleading the government.

Iddi said that Zanzibar’s maritime authority had made a mistake in registering the vessels and that the government should de-register them “to avoid international sanctions.”

The flag ruse appears to have been an effort by Iran, which is under pressure from the U.S. and its allies to halt its nuclear enrichment program, to avoid crippling international sanctions.

Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania, had been under pressure from the international community to investigate the origins of the vessels.

 

Tanzania says shipping agent reflagged Iranian oil tankers without country’s knowledge, is now de-registering vessels.
Oil tanker [file] Photo: REUTERS

DAR ES SALAAM – Tanzania said a shipping agent based in Dubai had reflagged 36 Iranian oil tankers with the Tanzanian flag without the country’s knowledge and approval.

Tanzania said it was now in the process of de-registering the vessels after an investigation into the origin of the ships concluded they were originally from Iran.

Tanzania launched an investigation last month over accusations that it had reflagged oil tankers from Iran and asked the United States and European Union to help it verify the origin of the tankers flying the east African country’s flag.

A report with the investigation’s findings was discussed in the House of Representatives of Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania late on Friday, and the minutes of that debate were seen by Reuters late on Saturday.

Reflagging ships masks their ownership, which could make it easier for Iran to obtain insurance and financing for the cargoes, as well as find buyers for the shipments without attracting attention from the United States and European Union.

The National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) changed the names and flags of many of its oil tankers ahead of the EU ban, part of sweeping economic measures aimed at pressuring Tehran to end its nuclear program.

The ships flying Tanzania’s flag were re-flagged by Zanzibar, which has claimed it was misled by its Dubai-based agent, Philtex, and would end its contract with that firm.

“The government has thoroughly investigated this issue and established that the Zanzibar Maritime Authority (ZMA) through our Dubai-based agent, Philtex, registered 36 Iranian crude oil tankers and containership vessels to fly the Tanzanian flag,” Zanzibar Vice President Seif Ali Iddi told the assembly.

“The Zanzibar government is in the process of de-registering the ships and also terminating its agency contract with Philtex after establishing the truth that these (Iranian) ships are flying the Tanzanian flag.”

Howard Berman, the ranking member of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, had accused Tanzania of reflagging at least six and possibly as many at 10 tankers, saying it was helping Iran evade US and European Union sanctions aimed at pressuring Tehran to curb its nuclear program.

He said Tanzania could face US sanctions for the practice.

Berman has also asked the small South Pacific island nation Tuvalu to stop reflagging Iranian oil tankers and warned its government of the risks of running afoul of US sanctions.
Source


Jatropha biofuels: the true cost to Tanzania

.Billed as wonder crop, the establishment of jatropha plantations on the ground in Tanzania has been far from successful, or, in some cases, ethical

Biofuel investment and production in Tanzania is a highly contentious issue.

Biofuel investors have been doing business in Tanzania since 2000, but business stepped up a gear after 2006. To date there are 17 investor companies here, from UK, Germany, Sweden, the Nederlands and America – a small number compared to those in Brazil and Indonesia, but a number with clear motives.

With over four million hectares requested by investors for biofuels (but only 650,000 hectares currently allocated), this is a sizeable potential earner for Tanzania.

Or is it? Much of the hype and excitement surrounding biofuels – and surrounding the oil seed crop jatropha in particular – seems to be coming from international consultants and investors. Ministers, farmers, politicians and NGOs who are based here are unanimous in one thing: scepticism. Dr Felician Kilahama, head of Tanzanian Beekeeping and Forestry, and part of the task force overseeing jatropha cultivation in Tanzania puts it succinctly: ‘How will jatropha benefit Tanzania? Well exactly. We have no answers. We want food first, not jatropha’.

Jo Anderson, a Tanzanian environmental consultant, feels similarly:
‘There’s a lot of theory about jatropha. Despite acres of scientific research, there’s no evidence of it working on a large scale at all. It’s driven by the industrialised countries and donors’ need to find potential fuel to mitigate against environmental problems: it’s sold as a plant that grows anywhere: on degraded land, as a hedgerow… Any poor farmer can just put it in, and get rich. But jatropha doesn’t grow on the commercial industrial scale needed to run biodiesel plants: the transaction costs of large scale don’t add up. On a small scale, say 500 villages, you could produce the oil for this village to cook on, but not enough to run it at the size the investors need.’

READ OUR EXCLUSIVE INVESTIGATION INTO THE UK FUND MANAGERS SELLING JATROPHA AS AN ETHICAL INVESTMENT

A crop of questions

The arguments around jatropha fall into several distinct categories. First the land-use debate: can it actually be grown on marginal land? Should valuable land be used for food, or fuel? And how should land be partitioned, both nationally and at village level? What about the water and forests on that land: how does one calculate their actual economic, social, cultural, ecological and projected value, and to whom? Locals or investors?

And then come questions of benefit: will Tanzania actually profit from biofuels – can we use biofuels here rather than simply export to Europe and the US?

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) claims that over 70 per cent of Tanzania is potentially available for agriculture, yet for this to be true valuable indigenous forest must be cut down. Dr Felician Kilahuma, Head of The Beekeeping and Forestry Ministry is worried: ‘Thus far villagers who are desperately poor have sold off land at way below its market value to biofuel investors without fully understanding or thinking it through – they are selling off valuable investments. Plus of course, in Rufigi [an area in Southern Tanzania], one of the 25 allocated global hotspots – an area of ‘outstanding natural biodiversity’ – 81,000 hectares were given over to [bioenergy company] SEKAB for biofuels. This is valuable forest, where the rare hardwoods African blackwood, and mpingo are grown.’

SEKAB was in the process of closing down its operations in Tanzania as this article was written and refused to comment: so far the future of this plantation is unclear.

Land clearances

The story is not an isolated case. A report published by WWF Tanzania in March 2009, ‘Biofuel Industry Study: An Assessment of the Current Situation’, includes a very long list of endemic animals and plants (including rare orchids and the rarest bush baby in the world – Galago rondoensis) on the the redlist living in areas where Dutch firm BioShape has plantations.

Land has been cleared there, admits BioShape, but not by burning, and the company says it has paid compensation. Opponents say the land was not gained legally, and that it makes no sense to counter climate change through deforestation. The Makonde carvers flourish in this area, and the hardwoods are used to make woodwind instruments. And, as Fred Nelson, of the NGO Tanzania Natural Resources Forum points out, ‘The World Bank says managed forests can potentially earn $25-$50 a month for villagers, from medicinal products, food, charcoal… we don’t know what jatropha can earn for people yet’.

Mark Baker, of EI consultants based in Tanzania, is less equivocal:
‘Recently, in Kilwa, the Dutch firm BioShape rejected land that is labelled barren, or idle, in favour of fertile forest, the Namatimbile, the largest coastal forest in East Africa. Why did they do that if jatropha can grow on weak land? And anyway, what exactly is ‘barren’ land if it is being used extensively by pastoralists?’

Like SEKAB, BioShape said that it has now completely ceased operations in Tanzania, for reasons that are unclear. No-one from the company was prepared to comment on its activities.

Not indigenous

SEKAB and Bioshape are not alone: of the nine other major jatropha investors in Tanzania, 90 per cent are using at least some land that is not considered ‘marginal’, according to WWF.

A key question is whether jatropha really is as hardy and durable as its supporters claim. Geoffrey Howard, of the International Union of Conservation of Nature in Kenya says: ‘Because jatropha is used locally on graves by East Africans we assume it’s indigenous. It’s not. Jatopha is essentially an invasive species. It is thirsty, needs irrigation and in no studies has it met the expectations of projected yields, either in terms of fruit, or oil produced.’

Jam tomorrow

Perhaps the least investigated side of the jatropha debate is the social and economic implications. It is hard for most people in the industrialised world to imagine the level of desperation that many Tanzanians experience. In the Rufigi Delta, where Swedish firm SEKAB has recently halted its work with jatropha, locals look set to be bitterly disappointed.

Mohamed Osman Makaui, a resident of Nyamage village in Rufigi, who was unaware the project had completely stopped, told me: ‘Overall my expectations for the future of the village are good and I am hopeful about the presence of the [biofuel] company here. If the company sticks to what they have agreed in their discussions with us, the income of our village will grow and everyone will benefit from their presence.’

According to WWF’s report, no compensation had been paid for land at the time of publication in March 2009, and no jobs created. The campaign group also alleged that glaring holes exist where labour relations, child labour and health and safety considerations should be; though Tanzanian law states these are necessary preconditions for investors, in practice they can’t enforce these practices. At the time, SEKAB told WWF that it was still waiting for the land deeds, and that compensation will be paid when these are received. Now that the company has ceased operations in Tanzania, the likelihood of compensation being paid is unknown.

In a damning Oxfam report, ‘Another Inconvenient Truth’, a subsidiary of British firm Sun Biofuels plc was criticised for telling the press it was awarding compensation of over $600,000 to villagers who allowed jatropha to be planted on their land, a figure that was later revealed to be twice the offered amount, and many times what actually seems to have been taken up by villagers who were uncertain on what to do with their claim forms.

In fact, WWF’s research suggests that even where land was purchased, over half the biofuel investors did not carry out Environmental Impact Assessments, and none consulted villagers or informed them of what they were doing, or offered villagers opportunities in farming management.

A way forward?

There is clearly a big need for thorough and comprehensive minimum standards for jatropha investors, both before they arrive in Tanzania, and once they are here.

Says Professor Pius Yanda at the Institute for Research on Environment at the University of Dar Es Salaam: ‘At the moment there is a complete freeze on jatropha investors, as we assess what our options are for jatropha. Minimum guidelines need to include clear definitions of no-go areas for investors, and a policy for jatropha use here in Tanzania, so we run our own cars, buses and factories on jatropha. At present Fairtrade International is researching jatropha as a fair trade product, we shall see.’

But jatropha could yet be produced in an equitable and sustainable way. On the ground in Tanzania, firms were distinctly cagey about agreeing to let the Ecologist look at their projects, but one notable exception was Diligent Energy Systems. After two years, this small Dutch company has signed up 5000 farmers to grow jatropha.

What makes Diligent so interesting is that it owns no land. Effectively it ‘outsources’ the growing: villagers get the economic benefits of money for seeds and cultivation. Secondary benefits include oil for cooking stoves, lamps, oilseed cake (which Diligent is encouraging villagers to put into anaerobic digesters, producing biogas with which to cook), soap, and fertiliser for use on other crops.

There’s no perceptible negative impact, though as Hayo De Feijter, general manager of Diligent, admits: ‘It’s not terribly profitable for farmers yet – 5kg of jatropha yields about 1 litre of oil, but potentially it’s only positive. We aim to make money for local farmers, and for the company, and we avoid all the environmental problems or compensation issues: we pay there and then. If this model could be developed – outgrowing schemes – it’s very hopeful.’

The farmers seem to agree with him. Mzee El Rahema, based in Makoa, in West Kilimanjaro says: ‘I get 180 shillings per kilo (18 pence) of jatropha; I do farming as well, but the extra income means the kids get food, schooling, clothes. It absolutely, definitely does help me and our community, and I am delighted.’

Thembi Mutch is a freelance journalist based in Tanzania

Source


African Babies As Guinea Pigs? Malaria, Bill Gate$, Big Drug$ and Big Buck$

 

February 9, 2012

When it comes to the new malaria vaccine developed by Glaxo, Smith and Kline (GSK) now being tested on infants in the east African country of Tanzania I will let the words of an industry insider tell it best:

There is not much profit to be made by big pharma from a highly effective malaria vaccine of practical use for African sufferers…. [T]hey are fiendishly clever at exploiting any and all opportunities to reap big benefits.

The poorly performing malaria vaccine RTS,S, created by GSK with a healthy infusion of funds from the Gates Foundation, is being tested in Phase III trials in Africa now. Including many thousands of African infants.

GSK will not profit from RTS,S. However, RTS,S is injected along with a new GSK adjuvant called AS01.

GSK will make vast sums from the new adjuvant, the testing of which is being piggybacked on their altruistic malaria vaccine (which, incidentally, is virtually entirely ineffective without AS01).

Interestingly, RTS,S (or should I say, AS01) testing in African infants began before AS01 trials in children were permitted in the United States.

GSK physician-scientists also held positions of significance in the Gates Foundation…conflict-of-interest issues notwithstanding.

So the Gate$ Foundation is giving Big Buck$ ($400 million and counting) to Big Drug$/G$K to develop a vaccine against Africa’s number one killer, malaria.

The new not-for-profit malaria vaccine is “virtually entirely ineffective” without another medicine, whose patent is owned by G$K, resulting in $billions of African blood money filling the coffers of Big Drug$, once again.

Never mind Big Drug$/G$K had its reps at the Gate$ Foundation and Big Buck$ in the form of tax deductible grants are being shelled out to Big Drug$/G$K.

The really nasty thing about all this is the fact that, once again, Big Drug$ tests new drugs on African babies before any such permission is granted to do so on American babies.

The question that remains unanswered is does Bill Gates multibillion dollar investment portfolio include investments in GSK? All the investment portfolio advisers I asked about this seem to think he does. Energy and Pharmaceuticals are the two most profitable industries in the world and GSK is one of the most profitable drug companies. Only Bill Gates and his investment advisors really know, but common sense indicates that when it comes to malaria, Bill Gate$, Big Drug$ and Big Buck$ is what is in the driver’s seat.

And all the while one African country, Eritrea, has reduced malaria mortality by 80% over the last decade, a fact unknown to the supposedly altruistic, or more aptly, incestuous, vaccine industry.Source

 


Towards a Time Bound Legislative Agenda for Effective Oil Governance and Avoiding the Oil Curse (Uganda)

 

Communiqué Issued at the Closing of the High Level Policy Dialogue on Oil Governance in Uganda

1. The High Level Policy Dialogue on Oil Governance in Uganda took place in Jinja, Uganda on November 30 –December 1, 2011. The Dialogue was attended by over 120 participants including Members of Parliament and representatives of civil society, cultural leaders, and representatives of local government from the Republic of Uganda, Republic of Ghana and United Republic of Tanzania. The overall goal of the Dialogue was to promote the adoption and efficient implementation of transparency and accountability measures in Uganda policy and legal regime on oil and gas.

2. The participants attending the final session of the dialogue hereby adopt this statement as an expression of consensus on issues, declarations and commitments arising out of the deliberations from the dialogue.

3. That the discovery of oil and gas in Uganda presents a tremendous opportunity for the country to access much needed resources to overcome major social, economic and infrastructure challenges confronting the country. The revenues from oil and gas will enable strategic investment in key areas such as infrastructure, education, health and agriculture.

4. Recognize that Government has made commendable investments and progress in promoting the development of the oil and gas sector and urge government to continue with more purposefulness and openness in handling all matters regarding the development and production of oil and gas resources in the country.

5. TAKE NOTE of the fact that Uganda’s oil and gas sub-sector is still characterized by suspicion arising from undue secrecy and lack of transparency , accountability and integrity, especially with regard to PSAs which is a source of tension and mistrust between the executive, parliament, civil society and citizens.

6. TAKE COGNIZANCE of the encouraging progress made by the Government of Ghana in establishing the appropriate institutional and legal framework for the governance of Ghana’s oil and gas resources. The participants also take note of the excellent work done by the Parliament of Ghana in ensuring that the laws presented before it were debated and passed with appropriate safeguards, transparency and accountability provisions.

7. Reiterate that oil is a national resource and a matter of national interest, In this regard, the participants recognize that decision making and governance of oil and gas resources and management of oil and gas revenues should be above any political affiliation, ethnic alliances, tribal affiliations or any other partisan interests.

AND THEREFORE

8. CALL upon the Government of Uganda to expeditiously present before parliament the appropriate legislation for the governance of oil and gas resources as required by article 244 of the constitution and the relevant resolutions of Parliament on this matter.

9. COMMIT ourselves to work together in ensuring that Members of Parliament and other stakeholders are fully trained and equipped to facilitate meaningful deliberations on the proposed oil and gas legislation.

10. DECLARE our unreserved commitment to work together to support all government actions that promote the good governance of the oil and gas sub-sector and to challenge and oppose any government or corporate actions that have the direct or indirect impact of undermining transparency and accountability in the oil and gas sub sector.

11. ACKNOWLEDGE the common but differentiated responsibilities of the executive, the legislature, the civil society, the media and other interest groups in ensuring that the natural resources of our countries and in particular oil and gas resources are developed, exploited and utilized for the benefit of our people and in the national interest of our countries.

12. INVITE our governments to ensure that the development and exploitation of oil and gas resources take into account the need to make full use of the gas resources and to ensure that gas flaring is avoided on account of the negative environmental consequences arising from gas flaring activities but most importantly the opportunities presented by gas resources.

13. CALL upon the Government of Uganda to honor its policy commitment to subscribe to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) as set out in the national oil and gas policy and to expeditiously take appropriate action to join the Initiative.

14. CALL upon Government of Uganda to investigate cases regarding temporary and permanent expropriations of land belonging to individuals and communities in the Albertine Graben and ensure that prompt, adequate and fair compensation is provided as prescribed in Uganda’s constitution.

15. COMMIT ourselves to take measures and actions required to build mutual confidence and trust between the executive, the legislature, the civil society and citizens as a major building block for effective policy and legislation in the oil and gas sub-sector.

16. Extend our appreciation to the colleagues from the Republic of Ghana and the United Republic of Tanzania for their participation and sharing of experiences that provide important lessons for the development of Uganda’s oil and gas sub-sector.

17. Extend our appreciation to the Parliamentary Forum on Oil and Gas (PFOG) and the member organizations of the Civil Society Coalition on Oil (CSCO), Publish What You Pay-Uganda (PWYP-U), and Oil Watch Network who provided the financial and intellectual resources that made the convening of this dialogue possible.

Jinja, Uganda December 1, 2011 Source

 


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