Norway has signed an agreement with six African countries, committing itself to helping them gain jurisdiction over their continental shelf 200 nautical miles beyond the coast.
The agreement means Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mauritania and Senegal now have a real chance to develop their economies once they begin exploiting the gas and oil lying in their seabed.
“We are seeking to ensure that countries in Africa have control over the resources in their own sea areas. This is an important contribution to the fight against poverty,” Erik Solheim, Norway’s Minister of the Environment and International Development said from New York.
In return, the six coastal countries will agree to collaborate with each other.
“Agreement on the outer limit of the continental shelf will also increase the likelihood of cooperation between these countries in a vulnerable region that has been affected by war and terrible suffering,” Solheim continued.
Norway’s cooperation with these countries is particularly valuable, because it is an example of how a developed state has efficiently exploited its natural resources following the establishment of the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in the post-World War II era.
“Under the law of the sea, Norway gained control of its own seabed. Norway has valuable experience for countries in Africa, and is now in a position to help them to establish control of their own oil and gas resources,” said Solheim.
News of the agreement comes just a day after Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg‘s speech at the UN High-Level Summit on The Millennium Development Goals in New York.
Stoltenberg said it is up to poor countries to take the responsibility of managing both themselves and their resources in the best possible manner.
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