Border disputes

Oil, gas, mines… how Africa’s inherited colonial borders fuel discord

By Marie Toulemonde

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Posted on September 13, 2021 08:08

Ressources naturelles les frontières de la discordeTAR-02

The continent’s often imprecisely demarcated borders, inherited from the colonial era, have given rise to numerous disputes between African nations. Each country seeks to benefit from these disputed areas, especially when they contain natural resources.

According to the African Union (AU), only a third of African borders have been precisely defined and materialised. At issue are the maps with approximate outlines, left by colonists at the time of independence, which are open to interpretation. This is the case in the Gulf of Guinea, where the question of maritime borders became thorny from 1990 onwards, when hydrocarbon deposits were discovered there, which provoked a race to appropriate the various seas between the countries in the area.

15 ongoing disputes

Since 20 August, the DRC and Zambia have been on the verge of putting an end to a decades-old dispute by resuming demarcation work along the 200km between Lakes Moero and Tanganyika, which are not far from the region’s major copper deposits. Although some disagreements have since been resolved, notably through arbitration by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), about 15

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