Home » Sim Tshabalala-led Standard Bank to fund $5-billion East Africa pipeline project

Sim Tshabalala-led Standard Bank to fund $5-billion East Africa pipeline project

The recent move, led by South African banker Sim Tshabalala, follows an extensive review process

by Feyisayo Ajayi
Sim Tshabalala

Key Points:

  • Africa’s largest lender, Standard Bank approves $5-billion funding for EACOP despite facing pressure from environmental groups.
  • The 1,443-kilometer pipeline has seen its cost rise by 25 percent from an initial $4 billion, reflecting the project’s growing complexity and scale.
  • Environmentalists criticize the pipeline’s impact on ecosystems and communities, but the project, led by TotalEnergies gains political backing.

Standard Bank, a financial services giant led by South African banker Sim Tshabalala, has announced its intention to fund TotalEnergies’ ambitious $5 billion East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project, aimed at transporting Ugandan oil to Tanzania’s coast for export.

The decision, led by South African banker Sim Tshabalala, follows an extensive review process that included comprehensive credit assessments and thorough environmental and social due diligence.

Thorough due diligence amid scrutiny

The EACOP project, spanning 1,443 kilometers (897 miles), aims to connect Uganda’s oil fields in the Lake Albert region to the Tanzanian port of Tanga. Initially estimated at $4 billion, the project’s cost has since escalated by 25 percent, reflecting its increasing complexity and scale.

Despite garnering support from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the project has faced substantial opposition from environmental groups concerned about its impact.

Standard Bank Chairman Nonkululeko Nyembezi underscored the bank’s rigorous internal governance processes and the extensive environmental and social impact assessments conducted before committing to the project.

“We have completed our due diligence, which included a thorough review of the project’s potential impact,” Nyembezi stated in an interview in Rio de Janeiro. She emphasized the bank’s commitment to addressing environmental concerns raised during the evaluation process.

A strategic investment in African energy

The decision by Standard Bank to proceed with funding for EACOP underscores its confidence in the project’s viability and its potential to drive regional economic growth. Under Tshabalala’s leadership, Standard Bank delivered a robust financial performance, with a 27 percent rise in headline earnings and a 20 percent increase in total net income.

The EACOP project represents a substantial investment in Africa’s energy infrastructure, promising significant economic benefits for Uganda and Tanzania. However, it also highlights the ongoing global debate over balancing economic development with environmental sustainability.

Future outlook

As global scrutiny intensifies over fossil fuel projects, Standard Bank’s decision to support EACOP is set to influence the trajectory of similar ventures across the continent.

With commitments to stringent due diligence and governance processes, the bank aims to navigate the complexities of funding large-scale energy projects while addressing environmental and social concerns.

For now, the EACOP project stands as a critical focal point in Africa’s development landscape, illustrating the challenges and opportunities presented by investments in energy infrastructure amidst a changing global climate agenda.

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