Until six months ago Chris Nulwanga was a Project Engineer for the West African operations of ExCo Inc, the world’s seventh largest upstream oil and gas corporation. Due to an unexpected show of aptitude for negotiating with local villagers, he is now the recently appointed Assistant Director of External Affairs.
To orientate himself to his new position Chris visits Latin America, on a study-visit. His host is Mining Enterprises International Limited (MEIL), a half-billion dollar investment in gold and silver mining in the remote Bella Vista District of Zamoro Province.
The story in these pages covers a seven day period. During this time Chris observes the efforts of the mining company to broker a Partnering Agreement involving the office of the provincial Governor, a voluntary community development organisation, the Paramount Chief of the District, the Chairmen of five local villages, and Boston Capital Partners -- one of the project’s equity investors. The partnership pools the expertise and resources of each organisation to provide health care for the company’s employees and the wider population.
"............Craig could contain himself no longer. This was blackmail. Before Maria had reached her seat he stood and with cheeks red, blurted out his frustration. “Of course they’re expecting five health clinics. I’ve seen how these participatory techniques work in practice. They generate a wish-list, raising expectations that no one can fulfil and creating a dependency on outsiders that lasts for years.” The room was still. Maria, perhaps wisely, chose not to react. Andreas, whom everyone was expecting to enter the conversation on behalf of the Governor’s office, remained quiet. Chris swallowed hard, then started to speak............."