In Summary
  • Venezuela is in a whole different energy revolution, the so-called “resource curse”.

  • Zimbabwe’s fuel protests began on January 14 over a 130 percent price increase

  • In Sudan, protests over the raising of the price of bread and fuel gave birth to calls for the overthrow of long-time President Omar al-Bashir.

Sudan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe are in a state of anarchy, albeit in their own different ways. And the thread that weaves the fabric of the uprisings is the most eternal ingredient of life: Energy.

It is said that the next wars will be fought because of water, but we are witness to revolutions triggered by energy.

In Sudan, protests over the raising of the price of bread from one Sudanese pound to three (about Sh20-Sh60) a loaf and fuel gave birth to calls for the overthrow of long-time President Omar al-Bashir.

Remember “Let them eat cake”, supposedly by the 17th-Century out-of-touch pampered ‘slay queen’ wife of King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette? It became the rallying cry template for revolutions and genesis of a new world order of democratic institutions — the French Revolution.

Bread contains the quintessential energy source for human beings — carbohydrates, a source of glucose that powers our existence. Petroleum and coal are byproducts of plants that existed during the deep of times and were buried under intense heat and pressure to form the hydrocarbons that now power machinery (transport, electricity and industries) with the objective of processing food and other creature comforts.

Venezuela is in a whole different energy revolution, the so-called “resource curse”. With the biggest oil reserve and petrol going for a song at Sh1 per litre, it is a paradox of the modern economy that the country faces an existential threat by runaway inflation that has made it ditch its currency, the bolívar, for the US dollar.

But if petrol can be profitably sourced and sold at Sh1, why on earth is Zimbabwe in a mess of inverse proportionality with Venezuela (high cost of fuel) but in direct proportionality with Sudan (high cost of bread)?

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