Regional report: East Africa

East Africa has received attention from international oil companies as an emerging region for petroleum exploration, with relatively recent oil discoveries in Uganda and Kenya, and gas finds of as much as 400 Tcf offshore Mozambique and Tanzania. East African countries are extremely poor, and they have large populations. According to the U.S. CIA’s World Fact Book, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique are home to roughly 154 million people, 40% of whom are under the age of 14, and 80% of whom depend on agriculture for their living. The average per capita GDP of these countries is just over $1,500 per year. Local East African communities are waiting impatiently for the economic benefits that oil and gas exploration can bring, including jobs, tax revenues and investment in infrastructure. At the same time, community leaders and governmental officials want to avoid the “resource curse” that has afflicted other poor countries, whose sudden wealth from extractive industries created profits for foreign companies, widespread corruption, and little benefit for the people of the host nation. Development of gold and copper resources in East Africa has done little to lift these countries from poverty.

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