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Foreign-led Scramble for the Continent’s Natural Resources

In Uganda’s Albertine Rift, an immense network of grasslands and mountains that supports great biodiversity, two energy giants are preparing to extract the largest onshore oil deposit in sub-Saharan Africa. A serious cause for concern is the wildlife inhabiting the area. Some drilling will take place within Murchison Falls National Park which is home to elephants, leopards, lions and giraffes, as well as more than 450 bird species, from blue-headed coucals to red-throated bee-eaters. Environmentalists worry over the possible impact of oil drilling on animals here, especially in the event of a spill. In April, the Uganda and Tanzania signed final agreements with the French oil multinational, TotalEnergies, and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation to extract about 1.7 billion barrels from a 425-square-mile drilling zone. Given its remote location, a Chinese construction firm has been brought in to build a 70-mile road to reach the oil. Following its planned, first extraction in 2025, the oil will be pumped 900 miles through the East African Crude Oil Pipeline — the world’s longest heated conduit — to Tanzania’s port city of Tanga, surrounded by mangroves and coral reefs on the Indian Ocean. Not only will the crude cross critical wildlife habitats; campaigners say the pipeline will displace thousands of farmers.