When oil fields were discovered in Kenya’s Turkana County, there was jubilation all over the country and people saw the opportunities that would to accompany the discovery.
The once forgotten barren land was now coming back to life with people from different parts of the country moving to Turkana County with the hope of finding the proverbial green pastures.
The question is, will Kenya be able to enjoy the benefits of the discovery of oil in Turkana County soon? The answer is no. And here is why.
The companies that are exploring for oil in Turkana County are foreign multinationals. These companies have invested billions of shillings in the project. This shows that with the discovery of the oil, the companies have to first recover whatever they have invested into the whole exercise and then make profits too. Economic experts project that this will take at least eight years or more for the companies to fully recover their costs.
The global prices for crude oil have been fluctuating, falling for an eleven-year low in December last year where a barrel of crude oil went for $37 from the initial $47 per barrel. The fluctuation 0of the global prices is likely to affect the oil production in Turkana putting in mind that the oil might not even be enough to be exported. What is more confusing is even the fact that the only oil refinery at Changamwe has been closed down and Kenya has been buying finished petroleum products other than crude products.
In terms of employment, the indigenous residents of Turkana County might not benefit much because they lack the much needed technological knowhow. What most Turkana County residents can provide is manual labour which is not highly paying.
How can the county make sure that it benefits from the oil discovery before the country fully gets a taste?
Companies exploring oil will have to transport their products. This implies that they will have to repair and create roads. Most roads in Turkana County are impassable and they will be repaired, the county will benefit from that.
Most residents of Turkana County need water. The reports that a large table of water has been struck in Turkana is good news. The county government can take the opportunity to make sure that the people of Turkana County have access to water.
Article by Juma Fred.