Michael Watts

Imperial Oil: Petroleum Politics in the Nigerian Delta and the New Scramble for Africa

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Anna Zalik and Michael Watts explain why being "oil rich" has become a curse on the poor of Nigeria and Angola.

The new scramble for Africa strikingly resembles the gun boat diplomacy and violence of the late nineteenth century. And the violence in the Niger Delta arises from a context in which oil industry policies have encouraged competition among local residents for the meagre payments associated with corporation activities on their land and waterways. Africa is experiencing a major oil boom. The continent accounts for roughly 10 percent of world oil output, and 9.3 percent of known reserves. Over the last decade it has emerged as a strategic supplier to the US market.

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