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Economy

  • Oil boom will be “modest,” economists say

    Uganda’s oil revenues will take “at least a decade” to arrive and will not by themselves transform the country, probably growing to no more than five percent of gross domestic product for a thirty year period, according to a recent study published the Oxford Centre for the Analysis’ of Resource Rich Economies, attached to Oxford University.

    “Oil revenues are best seen as a transitory form of public income that will allow Uganda to put in place the institutional reforms, policy actions and public investments to underpin the changes in economic structure needed to sustain growth once the resource is depleted,” according to Managing a Modest Boom: Oil Revenues in Uganda. Read More

  • Cultural leaders’ demands could cause conflict, analysts say

    Growing demands from cultural leaders for a share of oil revenues could spark ethnic conflicts among marginalized communities in mineral rich areas of Uganda, analysts say.

    “If communities begin demanding higher percentages, it will set precedents. Mineral sites may bring conflicts as they start fighting for their shares of royalties. Far from bringing wealth and health, we may not get political hygiene but ethnic politics,” according to Makerere University History and Development Studies don, Ndebesa Mwebestya. Read More

  • Image: woman tilling field with hoe

    Oil will not bring jobs bonanza, experts emphasise

    What chance do women like this have of getting a job in the oil industry? None. But they just might be able to sell some of their produce to oil camps. (Picture: Peter Bischoff/ActionAid)

    The oil industry in Uganda will be the most capital intensive that the country has ever seen. Many ordinary people believe that it may also result in mass job creation, alleviating unemployment and under-employment—said by some reports to run as high as 80 per cent among rural youth—that not only blights lives but could also foment social and political unrest.

    But the reality is that the oil industry is notorious for consuming large sums of money in its operations, while employing relatively few people, most of whom have particular expertise.  Worse still, manpower requirements in the industry decline with time, meaning that when facilities have been built and the oil is flowing regularly, semi-skilled jobs will all but disappear. Read More

  • No development plan for the oil region, officials admit

    As midwestern Uganda gears up for oil production that will entail billions of dollars in investments, a range of central government officials interviewed by Oil in Uganda admit that there is no overall development plan for the region, and no mechanism for coordinating the efforts of different departments. Read More

  • Tullow’s ‘better deal in Kenya’ claim may lead to tax-break race

    “The revelation by senior officials of Tullow Oil Pty that the company negotiated a better deal with the Kenyan government may escalate tax competition between Uganda and Kenya as both governments race to offer better incentives to the oil company,” according to Peter Okubal, Programme Director of Panos East Africa, speaking at a workshop in Kampala last week. Read More

  • Fisherman guts his catch on Lake Albert

    Oil opens markets for fish, but also brings too many fishermen

    A Lake Albert fisherman guts his catch — but how long will stocks last? (Photo: Thomas White)

    BULIISA DISTRICT: Forty five-year-old fisherman, Blazio Sempangere, smiles with satisfaction as he smears salt over his catch on a drying stall at Wanseko landing point on the shore of Lake Albert.

    “For years, sun-drying, smoking and salting were the only ways we had to preserve fish,” he says. “We often lost a lot of our catch due to rotting. Sometimes there is no sun and sometimes the salt is too expensive.”

    Primitive methods and long distances from markets meant poverty for fishing communities on the shores of Lake Albert.  According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, 30% of Ugandans live below the national poverty line, but in Buliisa District the figure is 70%.

    But things are changing fast for the local fishing industry as a result of oil prospecting in the area. Read More

  • Picture: upmarket housing under construction in Masindi

    Masindi prices soar as town gears up for oil boom

    Upmarket housing under construction in Kigunya zone of Masindi town

    Before a drop of Uganda’s oil has been produced for sale, the small and once sleepy town of Masindi, 40 kilometres from the prospective oilfields of Butiaba, is bustling with investment and anticipation.  Hopes are high—but so are prices, as demand soars for land and services.  Property developers and service industries are reporting quick profits, but Oil in Uganda staff writers found losers as well as winners in this boom town in the making.

     

    MASINDI, March 12, 2102:  Fifty-year-old farmer, Yoram Kwebiihe, who has toiled all his life on his 15-acre farm, growing mainly maize and beans for home consumption and selling a small surplus, cannot believe his luck. Read More