Oil and Niobium discovery could just be a big step towards Kenya’s economic development

Posted: August 6, 2013 in Politics/Current issues

Tullow oil plant in Turkana


Kenya could just be joining the league of Oil producing countries in Africa. This is following the recent oil drilling that has been going on in Turkana. The exploration, which has been going on since January last year is being conducted in Turkana by Tullow oil, a British firm. The firm has so far drilled 3 wells, Ngamia-1 and Twiga South-1 and now Etuko-1 and announced that the oil drilled in the first two wells is commercially viable.

The oil prospects continued to receive a short in the arm last week after Tullow oil announced that if the country drills the Etuko-1 well, it will have a possible average production of 300 million barrels

Following the completion of the Etuko-1 well, Kenya’s petroleum resources are expected to be in excess of 300 million barrels, exceeding the basin threshold for development. This is according to Tullow oil in a statement in reference to the oil discovery in the region.

In Kwale County, niobium a rare earth mineral was recently discovered by Cortec Mining Kenya. The mineral according to officials is estimated to be worth more than shs.51.2 trillion. Niobium is a chemical component and has been listed by the United Nations as a ‘’Strategic’’ and ‘’Critical ’’ metal essential to national security due to its lack of substitutes and limited availability.

With all these explorations being made and discovered, what does that mean to Kenya as a country? a third-world country that is still developing. It may be good news to Kenyans considering the economic implications these minerals are going to have for the country but it is not going to be easy

For Kenyans to enjoy the benefits that come with these resources the mining companies should engage stakeholders and the government. ‘’Resources discovered to date are of a scale that the partnership will initiate discussions with the government of Kenya and other relevant stakeholders to consider development options’’ this was according to a statement issued by Tullow Oil. This is what all the companies given licenses to mine in the country should embrace. The government and stakeholders too should be ready for this partnership.

With these recent discoveries, it is a clear indication that as a country and continent we are sitting on rich minerals while we continue languishing in poverty. The Kenyan government especially with the Mining ministry in place under the leadership of Najib Balala should now come into action.

With devolution now in place, the county governments should actively involve the local communities in these mining activities to ensure they benefit. Implementation of specific national government policy on natural resources and environmental conservation and also ensuring and coordinating community participation in governance are some of the key functions of county governments that have been transferred from the national to the county governments. The Transition Authority has even already given a green light to some of the counties to take over these functions. Mining is should be part of the respective county governments’ agenda where these minerals have been discovered.

Tullow Oil says it hopes to increase its exploration activities in Africa and especially in East Africa, with the discovery of the new oil deposits. It is now time the African continent started making use of its natural resources to help alleviate poverty.

Nixon Kanali, Nairobi

  1. […] On September 2013 a huge reservoir of water was discovered in Turkana County. This was the second major natural resource to be discovered in Turkana after oil was was discovered in March 2012. […]

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