The filthy practice of exporting highly polluting fuel to Africa is symbolic of big business the world over: where profit is king, human life becomes trivial
Friday 9 December 2016 13.41 GMT
Dense, dirty air laced with grease best describes the atmosphere of most Lagos streets. Drive from one corner of this great west African city to another and in no time you will find surfaces lightly dusted, like a soft sprinkling of icing on cakes. Under the half moons of fingernails, thick grime settles.
It’s a scene taken as typically African: polluted, bedraggled, unhealthy. Yet this has only ever been made possible by the exploitation of Africa’s people – the bedrock of European development. Today the exploitation continues. This week five west African countries, Nigeria included, announced plans to end the practice of European oil companies and traders exporting “African quality” diesel.
“Dirty fuel” has earned the name because it is imported diesel with sulphur levels as high as 3,000 parts per million when the European maximum is 10ppm. To be clear, “African quality” fuel, is fuel not fit for European humans. Racism has always been about the sanctioning of exploitation. How else can one justify one nation siphoning the wealth of another thousands of miles away if not by believing “those people” are inferior and thus “deserving” of servitude?