Eni attacked in Nigeria: time to re-think the role of energy companies

Eni attacked in Nigeria: time to re-think the role of energy companies

“Militancy in the oil-rich Niger Delta comes as the country faces severe economic contraction” is the sub-title of a piece on recent attacks against Eni’s facilities in Nigeria.

Nigeria is a resource rich country, with great human talent. It also has many poor people, lots of violence, widespread corruption, and a contracting economy. People do not pick up arms for no reasons… generally and Eni, the Italian energy company, was probably not the real target of the recent attacks. Rather the marginalisation and poverty of communities, combined with limited trust in what the government is doing for them are to blame. In addition, contracting economies, a cause and a consequence of violence and conflict never bring good news.

Eni, like similar energy companies are big and powerful and can do a lot for countries like Nigeria and other situations that are affected by violence.

To begin with, these companies can and, in many instances do, comply with the international standards for responsible business conduct (Oecd Mne Guidelines), environmental, social and governance (Pri Principles), and human rights  (Human Rights Guiding Principles). By doing this, at least they avoid “doing harm.”

They can also play a key role in re-vitalising economies that have been affected by years of governance failure or conflict by helping to diversify and reinvent the energy markets with a view to providing more and better access to clean energy to people who need it. This is crucial in countries like Nigeria, and in entire regions like the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) where growth has stalled, if not reversed. In Libya, for instance, gdp is estimated to have declined by 10 percent and per capita income has fallen to less than US$ 4,500 compared to almost US$ 13,000 in 2012.

Source: Donata Garrasi on Linkedin

Date: June 2016

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