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Opinion

  • Image: Flavia Nalubega Ssamula, staff writer

    Better planning can stop fuel accidents

    If we want a refinery producing 60,000 barrels of highly flammable products a day, how can we ensure they are transported safely, asks Flavia Nalubega.

    It was a ghastly sight as a pile of blackened bodies lay in the papyrus swamp of a Kampala suburb earlier this month. At least 39 deaths resulted from a petrol tanker explosion. Victims included motorcycle riders, vendors and motorists on the city’s northern bypass. Read More

  • Image: Chris Musiime, Managing Editor

    Nigeria’s story should inspire Uganda to join EITI

    By Chris Musiime 

    A week ago, Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan ordered Nigerian revenue collection agencies to recover $9.6 billion in underpaid or unpaid taxes and royalties from oil companies operating in Nigeria, following an audit of the country’s oil and gas sector stretching over the last ten years.

    For a long time now, corruption and successive weak leadership have ensured that half of the 70 million Nigerians remain in poverty, despite their country being the leading crude oil producer in Africa. Read More

  • Publish What You Pay Uganda Champion, Winnie Ngabiirwe

    It is time for a gender policy for the extractives industry

    Ms.Winnie Ngabiirwe

    By Winfred Ngabiirwe

    The discussions regarding oil sector management seemed to have taken a nosedive over the past four months, following the passing of the Upstream Bill by parliament.

    Since then, the discussion appears to have shifted to other issues that are targeting women’s wellbeing such as the legislation on miniskirts, and the now deceased Marriage and Divorce Bill. Now that the latter has been buried, maybe we should go back to other more salient issues such as the oil debate, but this time questioning where the women come in, or are left out. Read More

  • Image: Nicholas Young, Editorial Consultant

    Will oil fuel cooperation or conflict?

    By Nick Young

    As the recently-concluded general elections in Kenya were going on, Ugandans were remembering the violence that followed the 2007 polls and praying that the same won’t happen this time round.

    This is not just out of concern for fellow East Africans.  In 2007, Uganda endured months of disruption to the supply of fuel and other essential imports.

    Here was a stark reminder of the disadvantages of being landlocked.  Not only does Uganda suffer a hefty fuel import bill, running to hundreds of millions of dollars each year (and high prices for other imports besides); it also depends on transport corridors whose security it cannot guarantee. Read More

  • George Wachira

    Refinery options in the East African Region

    By George Wachira

    George Wachira

    Oil and Gas discoveries in the region are happening at a very fast pace , perhaps denying  us enough time to collectively as a region  think through implications on regional  petroleum infrastructure requirements,  especially refineries and pipelines. Opportunities for synergy and economies of scale in regional petroleum infrastructure will need to be actively pursued.

    In 2008, the East African Community (EAC) commissioned a regional refineries study to explore refining options for the region.  This was immediately after discoveries of oil in Uganda a couple of years earlier. The report recommended that a refinery be put up in Uganda and that the Mombasa refinery be immediately upgraded. Since the adoption of the refinery study report by the EAC summit, Uganda has progressed their plans to build a refinery, thought to be of 60,000 barrels per day (bpd) capacity.   Read More

  • Image: Angelo Izama

    Battle over national oil company reveals strains of the sector

    By Angelo Izama

    Angelo Izama

    During the oil debate in November 2011, parliament was piqued by an incident in which a letter written to the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga in defense of Tullow Oil was presented on the floor by the Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi before Kadaga could open hers. The sense that government and the oil companies are locked in a tight embrace, working hand in glove, explains the attitude of mistrust that ordinary MPs now feel.

    In the last seven days, battle lines have been drawn. In a rather bizarre commentary made on the distance ordinary Ugandans feel from the process, an NGO alliance led by Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment invited all of Uganda’s 370 MPs  to the lakeside resort of Munyonyo to debate amendments to the country’s proposed oil bills. Read More

  • Image: Professor Jenik Radon

    “You have to go slow in order to go fast”

    Professor Jenik Radon

    Uganda should move carefully and without haste to develop its oil industry and wider economy.  Well crafted laws, with institutional checks and balances, are essential to govern the commercial aspects.  Revenues should be deposited overseas in hard currency accounts, with a portion saved for the future—because development cannot take place overnight, it needs to phased. Increased government spending should be tied to a comprehensive development plan.   Environmental, health and safety issues should be governed by regional laws that bind international oil companies to the same standards they would have to apply in their countries of incorporation—because otherwise they ‘won’t take it seriously.’

    So says Columbia University professor, scholar-activist and renowned extractives industries expert, Jenik Radon, who has been delivering a series of lectures at Makerere University.  Oil in Uganda caught up with him as he packed his bags to return to storm-buffeted New York City. Read More

  • Image: Dr. Ezra Suruma

    “Oil revenues should be used to make a more humane society”

    Ezra Suruma, a former Minister of Finance, appeals for universal medical insurance and retirement pensions

    Uganda should deploy oil revenues to create universal old age pensions and universal health insurance to make a more humane society. This would be a real investment in the future of the nation.  So says Dr. Ezra Suruma, Uganda’s former Minister of Finance, in this exclusive interview with Oil in Uganda.  He accepts that it will be prudent to place some of the revenues in an Investment Fund—because too much money flowing too fast into the general budget would be difficult to absorb. But, he argues, all Ugandan citizens should become individual shareholders in the Investment Fund, in order to ensure that each and every citizen benefits directly through annual dividends—and also to create citizen-shareholder pressure for transparent and corruption-free management of the funds.  Read More

  • Lake Albert bloodshed stains the “new oil frontier”

    by Taimour Lay

    When you stand on the island of Rukwanzi at the heart of Lake Albert, your first thought, echoing perhaps the casual rhetoric of the region’s oil men, is that you are at the edge of a new frontier.

    But for its communities the lake is a centre, a point of connection and integration, the great body of water into which the White Nile flows, part of the vast rift valley that draws Africa’s citizens into mutual dependency. What happens here matters to half a dozen neighbouring countries. But the lines being drawn now, as neat and straight as the borders on colonial maps, mark not sovereign territory, but exploration blocks for oil and gas companies. Read More

  • David Ebong

    Uganda must integrate oil and climate change policy

    David Ebong

    Oil exploitation can bring immense negative impacts on the environment. These would have a significant influence on Uganda’s development pathway because environmental sustainability is intricately linked with growth. The government has focused on oil at the expense of environment and climate change despite the Government of Uganda being a signatory to the climate change convention and Kyoto Protocol. Read More