Kenya has sent off its inaugural shipment of crude oil becoming the first East African nation to join the ranks of petroleum-exporting countries.
The shipment was sold to trading company ChemChina UK Ltd as part of a pilot scheme between the Kenyan government and corporate partners including Africa Oil Corp, British oil explorer Tullow Oil, and France’s Total SA.
Though Kenya is still years away from building the infrastructure necessary to unlock its full commercial oil-producing potential, maiden shipment of more than 200,000 barrels revealed possible tensions over how the nation’s crude wealth should be divided.
In March, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed into law the Petroleum Act of 2019, which allocates 75 percent of state-designated oil profits to the central government, 20 percent to oil-producing counties, and five percent to local communities.
But speaking at the sendoff ceremony for the maiden consignment in the port of Mombasa, Peter Emuria Lotethiro, Deputy Governor of Turkana County, invoked the metaphor of a goat to lay claim to what he sees as his region’s share of the spoils.
“According to our culture as the Turkana people, when we slaughter a goat for a visitor, the owner of the goat must be left with the limbs,” said Lotethiro.” The people of Turkana have instructed me that in this oil deal, the limb should be ours.”
President Kenyatta seized upon the governors’ remarks to highlight his ongoing campaign against corruption.
“I have listened to the governors defending their people,” said Kenyatta, “but as the president, I’m going to defend the people of Kenya by saying that I hope a piece of this goat reaches every Kenyan. And that’s why we’re saying we must slay the corruption dragon. So that a few stop benefitting themselves with the national resources and minerals.”