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Missionaries see American eyes on African oil

The Italian Comboni missionaries in Africa have warned that the US is becoming more involved in developing the oil industry in a number of African countries, in order to lessen its dependence on Arab oil.

The May-June issue of the New People journal from the Combonis' Catholic Information Service of Africa (CISA) featured an article detailing what it called a "power struggle" over control of strategic crude oil reserves in Africa.

It cited the setting up of a US naval base in in São Tomé and Príncipe - Africa's smallest country - in September last year. At the same time, it said, President Bush met with eleven African presidents from countries where crude oil production is underway or expected to start soon.

The article pointed out that oil "puts Africa on the map", with some of the poorest countries suddenly becoming wealthly. But there is little or no evidence that the general population of such countries notice any difference in their quality of life.

"Equatorial Guinea is an example. Per capita income rose from $US308 in 1995 to over $US1500 in 2002. [But] in reality, the population has seen no improvement."

Independent Catholic News

2 May 2003