The South African ECA that can invest billions in public money on shadowy projects

(Daily Maverick, Johannesburg, 3 September 2018) The Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa (ECIC) uses public funds for international projects it chooses to invest in. Right now, the agency is considering lending a part of $14-billion needed by US energy company Anadarko for a giant liquefied natural gas project in Mozambique. Four ECAs are showing interest in providing them with credit for $12-billion of that amount –Italy (SACE), Japan (JBIC), China (C-EXIM), the US (US EXIM) and South Africa. According to an EIA conducted for Anadarko by Environmental Resources Management/Impacto, there will be “major” negative environmental and social impacts during the construction and operational phases. According to ECIC CEO Mandisi Nkuhlu, they are not bound by the ECA transparency guidelines of the OECD. The ECAs involved have collectively contracted an Italian consulting firm, RINA, to conduct an environmental impact assessment of the project. For local communities and the environment the project will be disastrous. The project is leaving entire communities landless, with no livelihood, and insufficient resettlement and compensation, if any. Unique ecosystems such as mangroves, endangered species of sea life, ocean flora and pristine beaches will be put at great risk. ECAs have a history of funding projects that are sometimes corrupt, violate human and environmental rights, and are financially and ethically questionable. The Canadian ECA, Export Development Canada, financed $41-million of a $52-million jet sold by Canadian company Bombardier to the notorious Gupta family, who have been deeply embroiled in state capture and systemic corruption in South Africa. The Canadian agency lent the Guptas $41-million to purchase a Canadian product from a company that was struggling financially.