It’s week two of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) that kicked off in the Olympic Stadium of Ebimpé in Côte d’Ivoire last Saturday. People from the continent, and around the world, are buzzing with excitement over the commencement of Africa’s biggest soccer tournament. Unfortunately, TotalEnergies tagged along as the competition’s main sponsor. It is clear that this is a ploy to clean up its image as a climate-wrecking fossil fuel company that’s scrambling for Africa’s oil and gas. 

Oil giant, TotalEnergies, made over $ 6 million USD every 90 minutes in 2022. In the third quarter of 2023, it made a staggering net profit of over $6.7 billion dollars, according to calculations by Greenpeace France. And they’re using their dirty money to sponsor AFCON, just like they did with the Rugby World Cup last year. While their sponsorship of major sporting events may seem generous, it certainly isn’t coming for free.

TotalEnergies’ real, sinister goal in Africa  

Behind their sportwashing lies the dark reality that TotalEnergies is causing widespread devastation to communities and landscapes across the continent. While the whole world agreed last year at the global climate conference in Dubai (COP28) to shift away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, fossil fuel companies like TotalEnergies are developing more oil and gas resources in Africa than ever before.

Their championed project, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) to transport oil from Uganda’s Lake Albert to the Port of Tanga in Tanzania and the oil extraction projects it will enable, reportedly has the potential to displace over 100,000 people and also poses a looming catastrophe for Africa and its climate. Already at an early stage of the project, it has led to reports of degraded ecosystems, destroyed livelihoods and violence and arrests of peaceful protestors.

In Mozambique, TotalEnergies has been implicated in recent conflicts in the already volatile region of Cabo Delgado with its $20 billion USD gas development project. In South Africa, Total has received the greenlight from the government for offshore drilling for oil and gas, despite valid concerns about the impact to marine life and fishers’ livelihoods.

In fact, TotalEnergies is developing more new oil and gas projects in Africa than any other fossil fuel company in the world, according to an Urwald report. And the majority of the oil and gas projects in Africa by international oil companies, like TotalEnergies, are geared towards exporting to countries outside the continent. Meanwhile, according to the International Energy Agency, more than four out of ten Africans lack access to electricity.

Give TotalEnergies a red card

We can’t let this greenwashing tactic distract us from the truth: the fossil fuel industry, including TotalEnergies, collectively produces a football stadium full of oil every 3 hours and 37 minutes. Fossil fuels – the lifeblood of climate-wrecking companies like TotalEnergies – are poisoning the lungs of African athletes and soccer fans. Science says we must transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy. Yet  the risk of displacement of communities for new oil drilling, inflammation of conflicts, trashing of Africa’s nature, worsening of its climate with floods and droughts and rising food prices, or corruption of our politics appears to mean nothing to Total as it bags staggering net profits that are shipped back to Europe, along with the oil and gas extracted from Africa. 

Total is turning AFCON from a celebration of African unity into a monstrous greenwashing stunt. It’s time to kick TotalEnergies out of our stadiums. Our passion for football runs deep, and so does our love for a clean, healthy Africa.

Team work is dream work

Greenpeace Africa partnered with Magamba Network (Zimbabwe) and Journal Rappé (Senegal) as part of Kick Polluters Out, a movement of African creatives and activists, to expose how TotalEnergies is working hard to cover up its real intentions and destructive practices.They’ve made a fantastic video calling TotalEnergies out on their devious plans

Greenpeace Africa is calling on the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to kick TotalEnergies out of this tournament, and is encouraging football fans across the globe to share the video and chant not just for their teams, but for a future with clean air that is free from fossil fuel tyranny.

We must use this opportunity to say no to fossil fuel sponsorship of the sports we love, exposing the urgent need to halt all extractivist-based neo-colonial activities, the expansion of the fossil fuel industry, and its criminal projects across the African continent.

Let’s Kick Polluters Out.