Bongo and Obiang get BEAC to give in to oil firms
The regional bank has yet to impose the CFA franc on mining and oil firms, thanks to a fuss kicked up by a private sector backed by certain regional leaders. A fearful Bank of Central African States (BEAC) has postponed the obligation it
placed on oil and mining companies in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) region to give it full details of their local and foreign bank accounts.
However, these steps will be mandatory by December 2021, according to a 5 November letter from BEAC governor Abbas Mahamat Tolli. The BEAC is short of foreign exchange and its ultimate goal is to force all players in central Africa’s extractive sector to drop the dollar and use the CFA franc. The private sector is aghast at such a prospect. Pressure from on high Several oil companies – including ExxonMobil, Total, Schlumberger, ENI, Vitol, Lukoil, Technip, Baker Hughes, and Subsea 7 – got the African Energy Chamber, a lobby group based in South Africa and chaired by lawyer NJ Ayuk, to lean on the BEAC, which it duly did with a threat of litigation.
The African Energy Chamber enjoys formidable political support from countries
such as Equatorial Guinea, the Central African Republic and Gabon. With the
approvoal of Gabonese President Ali Bongo, Théophile Ogandaga – Bongo’s chief
of staff and Olam’s former number 2 in Gabon – joined forces with oil minister
Vincent de Paul Massassa to lead the charge. They worked with Equatorial
Guinea’s oil minister, Gabriel Obiang Lima, who is the son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema. By contrast, neither Cameroon nor Chad, both of which are oil-producing CEMAC member states, felt inclined to put pressure on the BEAC. And for good reason: the latter’s governor, Abbas Mahamat Tolli, is Chad’s former minister of infrastructure and finance.