US eyes African oil interests

An upcoming African-American summit aims to bring black Americans and Africans together in building an oil industry that will one day replace the Mideast’s, former US Ambassador Andrew Young said on Wednesday.

Young, former civil rights leader and US ambassador to the United Nations under President Jimmy Carter, is chairman of the 6th Leon H Sullivan Summit being held from July 14-18 in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja.

Young said the gathering will bring together hundreds of black American leaders with 15 heads of state just days after US President George Bush’s first visit to Africa.

Bush will visit Senegal, South Africa, Botswana, Uganda and Nigeria.

The African-American summit is sponsored in part by Shell Oil, ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil, General Motors and Chrysler, among other companies. Nigerian companies are also participating, Young said.

“One of the reasons for the distortions in the US economy is our overdependence on Middle Eastern oil,” Young said. “Developing African oil to… replace Middle Eastern oil is a priority.”

West Africa, led by Nigeria, already supplies the United States with 15% of its oil—approximating Saudi Arabia’s share of the US market.

The US National Intelligence Council has projected US oil supplies from West Africa will swell to 25% by 2015—more than that from the Persian Gulf.

The five-day summit, named in honour of the late civil rights pioneer and international humanitarian Leon Sullivan, will also focus on continuing development efforts in sub-Saharan Africa, including business, trade and investment, education and HIV-Aids.

Sullivan, who organised five previous versions of the summit including the last one in Ghana in 1999, envisioned American “sons and daughters of Africa building a bridge to the African continent, increasing trade, health benefits and sharing some of the blessings and benefits of this country,” Young said.

Young called Africa “the missing link in the global economy,” adding that Sullivan had wanted the summit to be held in Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer and the fifth-largest source of US oil imports.

Sullivan, a former Philadelphia pastor who died in April 2001, was best-known for the Sullivan Principles, an international code of business conduct credited with bringing an end to apartheid in South Africa.
He wrote them in the 1970s after becoming the first black board member of General Motors Corp.

The meetings have sparked the creation of programs to train African teachers, bankers and doctors. A partnership with the World Bank also has taught more than 1-million Africans to use tube wells, built by the bank, which provide clean water and land irrigation. - Sapa-AP

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