The Swedish Oligarchy Controversy began when the South African government accused the Swedish government and the N'Djamena based Chadian Consortium of taking advantage of the Chadian government and, basically, colonizing the country through domination of its economy.
In October 2011, Chadian president Idriss Déby agreed on a plan proposed by Swedish Deputy Prime Minister Jan Björklund to allow Swedish companies into Chad. SkanskAfrika was quickly founded by Skanska AB and promptly began building the 30-story NordTower. Lundin Petroleum secured a deal which allocated half of Chad's undrilled oil to newly founded Lundin Petroleum Africa later in the same month.
Due to the violent nature of Chad's history, SkanskAfrika, Lundin Petroleum Africa, and Atlas Copco Africa (whom was tasked with building Lundin Petroleum assets in Chad) contracted Securitas AB to provide armed security at all places of operation, including armed protection transportation.
In March 2012 it was discovered that of the thousands of Chadian Consortium employees in Chad, only about 39% were Chadien citizens. In the case of Securitas International, 100% of the employees were Swedish nationals. With public backlash eminent, the Consortium worked quickly with Volvo AB hastily founding a fifth member of the Consortium, public transportation company ChadBus.
South African Accusation
South Africa soon went to the United Nations and opened an investigation into the Consortium's exploits in Chad. Grounds of South Africa's accusations were the appalling Swedish to Chadian employee ratios among the Consortium companies operating in Chad. The Swedish government and Chadian Consortium fired back, saying the Consortium was improving the lives of Chadians through infrastructure construction.
United Nations Hearing
South Africa opened a United Nations hearing regarding the controversy.
These actions include not only dominating the economy and mineral wealth of Chad but also the introduction of Swedish nationals controlling the vast majority of jobs created in Chad. So not only is Sweden dominating the economy but they are providing a pitiful amount of jobs to Chadian citizens in exchange for a large loss of wealth by the Chadian government and people.
—Opening Statement, South African Government
Swedish Ambassador to the UN Anders Lidén, without being briefed by the Swedish government, replied to the best of his ability.
I am in no position to speak for these Swedish companies in Chad. I can say though that although, yes, the companies are hiring a foreign majority, Chadian citizens will soon see the benefits of our projects. Oil from Lundin Petroleum will soon begin flowing into a refinery that'll bring money to the Chadian economy and fuel into the homes of millions. Roads built by SkanskAfrika will make it easier and safer for Chadian citizens to move about. Transportation through ChadBus will allow Chadian people greater access to jobs, education, and recreation. Paving roads and drilling is only the beginning. We will soon renovate or build schools, build sewers, bring water and power into Chadian homes. There are many more jobs to be created and much more good to be done. And I can promise you, the Chadians will benefit greatly.
—Official Swedish Response, Swedish Ambassador to the UN Anders Lidén
The Swedish response explained that new jobs were on the way. However, whether these new jobs were to be filled by Chadien citizens or more Swedish nationals remained unknown. SkanskAfrika CEO Halvard Wrangel quickly issued a statement briefly outlining the plan of action his company, and the others, were planning on taking.
It is simply because we need to jump start these projects while we gain support from the Chadian people. We only report how many employees we have on our payroll. We do not, however, report how many Chadian citizens are currently shadowing our workers. In N'Djamena, we will begin incorporating more Chadian workers in the building of infrastructure like roads, sidewalks, water processing plants, etc. Our partners in the south of Chad, I'm sure, will begin to do the same.
—Press Release, SkanskAfrika CEO Halvard Wrangel
The United States of America and African Union soon made their own official statements in regarding the Consortium.
The United States feels that no wrong doing has occurred in this case. The fact that a Swedish Company abroad is employing Swedish Nationals for most of its jobs should come as no surprise to the rest of the world as many companies operate in similar matters. The additional fact that the company, upon hearing of the unhappiness of certain African nations, the company proceeded to hire native workers. Thus the issue should be put to rest and this completely unnecessary meeting ended.
—Official American Position, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
So long as the Swedish companies work to place jobs into Chadian hands as well as any infrastructure built, there won't be a problem.
—Official African Union Statement
- The Chadian Consortium was able to continue operations in Chad.
- Relations between South Africa and Sweden grew bitter.