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  • L-R: Hon. Peter Lokeris, Hon. Michael Mawanda and the Anti Corruption Coalition's Abbas Kigozi

    National Dialogue to impact on governance of the Extractives Sector

    CSOs have organised a dialogue slated for Wednesday the 26th April 2017

    Archive photo from former event. 

    Four of Uganda’s Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are hosting an annual multi-stakeholder national dialogue under the theme; Land and Extractives – harnessing citizen participation for good governance and sustainable livelihoods.

    The meeting that is expected to attract more than 100 participants is aimed at ensuring that stakeholders at the grassroots interact with the leaders at both local and central government to ensure transparency and good governance of the oil, gas and mineral sector.

    The convention, organized by Action Aid Uganda (AAU), Civic Response on Environment and Development (CRED), Saferworld Uganda and Transparency International Uganda (TIU), will be held at Hotel Africana on Wednesday the 26th of April, and among the invitees are delegates from Parliament, the private sector, industry players, government agencies, local government leaders, community leaders, community representatives and relevant CSOs.

    The meeting arose out of findings by civil society regarding the increasing unplanned and untimely displacements and land disputes in the oil rich and mining areas, which inhumane activities affect people, particularly the less privileged, including women and children.

    Instead of remedying this pattern, the government has instead recently decided to worsen the problem by proposing an amendment to Article 26 of the Constitution with the effect of allowing government to acquire land before effecting compensation to the project-affected person.

    Elaborating on the expected outcomes from the meeting, Mr. Ivan Mpagi, the Extractives Governance Project Manager at ActionAid Uganda, explains that the meeting is meant to create a platform for discussing the challenges in the extractive sector by engaging policy makers on what needs to be done in order to address these challenges.

    “We want to bring the oil companies together to tell Ugandans how far they are in the actual extraction of oil,” Mr. Mpagi says. “The extraction will generate employment, and it will generate revenues as well, and we as civil society want to monitor this development and hold these actors accountable.”

    He further expresses hope of more transparency concerning the government’s exploration agreements with the oil companies (Tullow, CNOCC and Total), as he finds the government to have been “very secretive” until now. “Through the dialogue we hope that Ugandans can be told about the agreements made with these companies.”

    By Preben A. Martensen-Larsen   

    Oil.uganda@actionaid.org

  • The home (rightful land) to the 200 families who had been evicted in Rwamutonga. Photo by Preben A. Martensen-Larsen.

    ‘We live like animals’, Former Rwamutonga refugees speak out

    The home (rightful land) to the 200 families who had been evicted in Rwamutonga. Photo by Preben A. Martensen-Larsen.

    The current situation for the over 200 indigenous families (1500 people) formerly evicted from Rwamutonga, Hoima District, is characterized by major problems, and it has been thus, since their return on their land  in February this year, the residents claim.

    A recent visit by a team from ActionAid Uganda found a suffering hungry humanity, sleeping under tattered shelter made of tarpaulin, and crying babies who appeared malnourished while many seemed to have gone hungry for days

    In August 2014, families were evicted from their land of over 485 hectares on which they had lived as squatters for years, hence becoming owners.  The land, whose alleged rightful owners are Robert Bansigaraho and Joshua Tibangwa, was leased to an oil waste management firm MCalester Energy Resources. In the process, the residents were evicted and  left homeless and these were only saved by a good samaritan who allowed them to elect a camp on his land, to find shelter there as they awaited justice to prevail.

    Recently, more than two years after the eviction, a bright light shone on the residents when justice prevailed and the long awaited judgement was made in their favour. Thanks to the court order, the local leadership, the people’s zeal and support from one of the landlords Mr Basingaraho as well.

    The court ruled that the people were wrongly evicted, and there was need for fresh negotiations with the owner. Mr Basingaraho accepted the residents to return on the land arguing that he did not own the entire land, but just part of it.

    And even more recently, the 1st  Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Moses Ali supported the cause. He stayed police from any further re-evictions of the Rwamutonga residents unless court states so.

    No water, food or medicine

    Whereas the good news is that families are trying to establish themselves exactly as they were before the eviction, the darker side of this is life is very tough for them. Life here is no fairy tale.

    Mothers carry their babies on the back whole day and move home to home in search of food. There are no smiles there, everyone looks angry, frustrated and lifeless – blaming it on hunger.

    “The major issues at the moment are lack of food, no water, or medicine,” Gladys Ougyumoti told Oil in Uganda during the visit in early March, “We are like wild animals, we just move from place to place in search of food.”

    Worse still, they are just getting back to their gardens (which have turned into bushes in the last two years) to plough, but the fruits are far from reach since the ploughing just started.

    Worse still, there is hardly any permanent shelter here, as many are using tattered tarpaulin to cover the houses made of sticks. The houses get socked in water when it rains, and they are open to mosquitoes and wild animals since there are hardly any doors.

    “We are drinking water with the baboons. We are living a baboon live, “Mr Rashid Amora a resident here told Oil in Uganda

    And the health of everyone does not brighten up the day either. Almost everyone is coughing, and mosquitoes do not spare them either. Malaria has become a part of them; the infants are testimony to this. Many lie almost lifeless, suffering from malaria yet with no access to medicine. Reports show that an effort to access treatment from the health centres has been in vain as they are chased away by medical workers: “They look at us like dirty (filthy) people who are homeless. They tell us not to disturb them when we ask for medicine,” Ms Lucy Alungat said.

    “We are living like how we lived in the camps. In fact, the camps were better because people would send us food, bags of posho and beans. But here, we do not receive free food anymore. We do not receive medicine,” Ms Alungat revealed.

    Furthermore, Ms. Gladys Ougumort added that long distances to any kind of treatments are just some of the problems that women face.

    A grime future ahead

    According to Betty Kosemerwa, who is still breastfeeding her infant son, it is very difficult to give much thought about the future under the current circumstances. One thing she is certain of is that the discovery of oil will have bad effect on many people in Uganda, and the eviction in Rwamutonga is a clear example of this.

    Ms Kosemere whose husband was blinded by tear gas, thanks to the fights with Police and their current landlord over this land, is responsible for the entire household, which is a big burden to her. She is therefore more concerned about getting more basic and urgent needs now.

    Ms Kosemerwa requested civil society to talk to government and convince them that people, like the wrongfully evicted families in Rwamutonga, have rights over the land. “Government has to come and understand where people are and how they live,” she added.

    ActionAid Uganda’s Project Manager Ivan Mpagi retaliated Ms Kosemerwa’s statement, urging government to play its part. He urged them to support the legal process to ensure that the evictees see full justice and regain back their land.

    By Preben A. Martensen-Larsen and Flavia Nalubega

  • Members of civil society meeting with the COSACE committee

    CSOs call for end of secrecy in oil deals in a petition to parliament

    Members of civil society meeting with the COSACE committee

    A group of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in the areas of Oil Governance and Transparency have implored government to end to secrecy in the oil sub sector. Read More

  • cso-lands

    CSOs Launch Albertine Region Land Platform

    Civil Society Organizations working on land issues in the oil rich region have launched a sharing platform dubbed the Albertine Region Land Platform (ARLP) to devise mechanisms to curb the rampant land disputes in the region. Read More

  • A section of the displaced residents at a recent meeting in the camp. (Photo: Courtesy Global Rights Alert)

    Rwamutonga Evictees Return On Land After Two Years Of Displacement

    A section of the displaced residents at a recent meeting in the camp. (Photo: Courtesy Global Rights Alert)

    The evicted Rwamutonga residents have returned to land from which they were evicted two years ago, Oil in Uganda has established. Read More

  • Proscovia Nabbanja 2

    Government Officials Divided Over Tullow’s Farm-Down

    Ministry of Energy argues that the farm-down creates monopoly in the Albertine Graben

    Officials in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) and Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) are in contention on whether Tullow Oil Plc’s farm-down to Total E&P Uganda should be approved, Oil in Uganda can reveal. Read More

  • President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni at the launch of African Gold Refinery Limited in Entebbe on Monday

    Museveni Commissions East Africa’s First Gold Refinery

    President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni at the launch of African Gold Refinery Limited in Entebbe on Monday

    President Yoweri Museveni on Monday commissioned African Gold Refinery Limited; the first State of the Art refinery in Uganda and East Africa region.

    The facility, located in Entebbe, Wakiso District is 45 kilometres from Kampala and estimated to be worth $20m (about 72 billion Shillings) has been operational since 2014.

    Speaking at the launch of the refinery, President Museveni urged government officials to get rid of wrong policies such as taxes on prospective investors if the mineral sector industry is to get a shot in the arm.

    “I highly commend the management of AGR limited for bringing the company to Uganda. Africa produces a lot of gold but has so far attracted less of the same industries. I am calling on Africans to wake up and utilize the untapped potential,” President Museveni said.

    The refinery will have a capacity to refine raw gold to 99.9% pure gold and the raw material is expected to come from different countries across the region.

    According to Global Witness, an International transparency watchdog, some of the raw gold exports are likely to be from Congo and South Sudan, raising concerns over conflict minerals.

    “Uganda’s gold sector is shrouded in mystery. You have to ask who is really benefiting. The gold trade was worth $200 million to the Ugandan economy last year but there are no official figures on where the gold came from or where it is going,” said George Boden, a campaigner at Global Witness.

    “This raises serious questions about whether gold that may have funded conflict and human rights abuses in (eastern Congo) and South Sudan could be entering the international supply chain and whether the right taxes are being paid.”

    According to Tony Goetz, a Belgian gold trader and AGRL’s main investor, the gold refinery will serve a critical role in the mining industry across the region and will employ about 75 Ugandans and with a capacity of 300kg of pure refined gold  in a week and ability to increase it to 500kg.

    “The refinery contains a geo chemical laboratory with high sophisticated equipment like an atmoic absorption unit. This is very vital since it traces most of the elements in the soil samples,” he said.

    However, the chairman of the gold miners in Mubende District, Mr. Mark Jombwe, said the news of a gold refinery does not exactly excite them unless their operations are legalized.

    “As artisanal miners, all we care about is licenses to operate legally and because of uncertainties, we cannot invest much in our operations as we  are not sure of what lies ahead,” he told Oil in Uganda.

    Though gold mining in Uganda is largely on small scale, the country serves as a transit point for gold exports from neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has large reserves.

    Uganda has been keen to attract investors to its mining sector after government surveys established the existence of minerals including gold, base metals, uranium, rare earths, iron, titanium, vermiculite and diamond in various locations.

    Report by by Robert Mwesigye and Collins Hinamundi

  • Part of Agricultural Land filled with rocks. Photo from Healthy Land

    Family Sues Government for Unlawful Use of Rock

     

    Part of Agricultural Land filled with rocks. Photo from Healthy Land

    Is a rock found in your land a mineral and therefore vested in the State?

    A family in Oyam District has sued the Government of Uganda and Sino Hydro Corporation Ltd for unlawfully crushing ‘its’ rock into aggregate and using it to construct Karuma hydro-electric power  dam without compensation, Oil in Uganda exclusively reveals.

    In the suit Etot Paul and others Vs Attorney General and Sino Hydro Corporation Ltd, filed in 2015 in the Land Division of the High Court, the family of Mzee Etot wants court to compel Government and Sino Hydro Corporation Ltd – a Chinese company constructing the 600 megawatts Karuma dam, to pay for aggregate derived from the family rock.

    According to the family, it all started in 2012, when the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development decided to compulsorily acquire land near and around Karuma to pave way for the construction of the dam.

    “Part of Mzee Etot’s land was among parcels that government acquired for construction of the dam. However, government only assessed the value of the land and development on it without taking into consideration the value of the rock on the land,” family spokesperson told Oil in Uganda.

    The family claims that since it owns the land, it also owns the rock on the land, and therefore deserves compensation for the value of the rock.

    “Consequently, government unlawfully took over the family’s parcels of land adjacent to river Nile, and handed it to Sino Hydro Corporation Ltd for the construction of the dam,” the plaint reads, further noting that part of the land which also contains a rock is also their property.

    Through their lawyer, George Omunyokol, the family claims Sino Hydro Corporation brought a rock crusher and crushed the rock into aggregate that it is using to construct Karuma hydro-electric power dam  free of charge.

    Omunyokol argues that stones and rocks are not minerals and therefore government should compensate the family for unlawful use of its rock.

    “The stone/rock in our clients land is not a mineral because the Constitution excludes it from minerals,” he states in the plaint.

    Omunyokol’s argument is premised on Article 244(1) of the Constitution of Uganda that vests the entire property in and control of all minerals and petroleum in government on behalf of the Citizens.

    Article 244 (5) of the Constitution excludes clay, murram, sand or any stone commonly used for building or similar purposes. “So, clearly, the Constitution is clear, it excludes stones from minerals,” Omunyokol told Oil in Uganda.

    Consequently, the family hired professional geologists to quantify the value of the rock and according to the technical evaluation report seen by Oil in Uganda, puts the value of the rock at $ 6.5million  (approximately Shs 22 billion).

    According to the geologists, the rock has capacity to produce about 650,000 tons of aggregates. Therefore, at a market value of $10 (about Shs 33,000/=) per ton, the rock is worth $ 6.5 million (about Shs 22bn). Therefore, in the suit, the family wants court to order government to pay $ 6.5 million in compensation.

    In addition, the Chief Government Valuer conducted valuation of the entire family property which includes; the value of crops, buildings and land to worth 813million Uganda shillings. These monies have not been paid to date.

    Oil in Uganda has established that government withheld payment of the compensation, due to the standoff over the rock.

    The family seeks a declaration that the actions of Sino Hydro  Corporation quarrying the family’s rock, crushing it into aggregates and using the aggregates for the construction without compensation is unlawful and unconstitutional and seek compensation for the value of the crushed rock at the market rate.

    However, the Attorney General, in a Written Statement of Defense to the suit, insists that a rock is a mineral and therefore vested in government  and the family is not entitled to any compensation so court should dismiss the suit with costs.

    “In respect of the claim for compensation for the rocks found on the suits, the plaintiffs [family] are not entitled to compensation in view of the provisions of the Constitution read together with various provisions of the Mining Act 2003,” the AG argues in the defense.

    According to Andrew Karamagi, the legal argument by George Omunyokol is sound since rock is part of land and is not a mineral, hence its value should be factored into the computation for the final value of the said piece of land.

    “There is a Latin maxim about land which argues to the effect that cujus est solum ejus usque ad coelum (translated to mean- he who owns the land owns everything above and below it). In mutatis mutandis with the Constitution of Uganda which precludes minerals, it is clear that this rock is on the land and is therefore part of the impugned land,” he told Oil in Uganda.

    Last year, Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), was embroiled in wrangle with businessman Pius Mugalaasi, over the value of a rock on the Entebbe- Express highway on his land. The Roads Authority was eventually forced to divert the road.

    The value of rocks found on land is becoming an issue given the demand of aggregate for various on-going projects. If for instance the court rules that a rock is not a mineral, and therefore a property of the land owner, even when exploited for commercial purposes, will set a precedent that could raise the value of rocky lands.

    Report by Edward Ssekika.

  • Minister for Energy Eng Irene Muloni addresses officials from the three international companies that are going to undertake the FEED study

    Joint Venture Partners Launch FEED Studies For Nwoya, Buliisa Oil Fields

    The three joint venture partners operating in the Albertine Graben have launched the Front End Engineering Design (FEED) studies for Nwoya and Buliisa oil fields in a bid to fast track oil production by 2020. Total E&P Uganda , Tullow oil and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) signed the pact yesterday (February 14, 2017) at Sheraton Hotel in Kampala and was witnessed by Minister for Energy Eng. Irene Muloni, Mike Cleaver Vice President of Chicago Bridge and Iron Company(CBI) , Ashley Rees Managing Director of Fluor and Maxine Mikoyan Vice President of Technip.

    Technip, Fluor and Chicago Bridge and Iron Company (CB&I) are the three international contractors that were awarded the contract to undertake the first phase of FEED design completion for a period of six months. Upon successful completion, the two best companies will be invited to compete for Engineering, Procurement and Construction contract. The FEED studies which will cover Exploration Area 1 (EA1) in Nwoya and Exploration Area 2 (EA2) in Buliisa respectively are expected to outline technical aspects of the oil fields (design of trunk pipelines-crude feeder pipelines, Central Processing Facilities which is the most critical infrastructure since it is like ‘first refinery’ and other attendant infrastructure), costs estimates and schedules of implementation of the production phase. According to Energy Minister, Eng. Irene Muloni, who was present at the signing of the design engineering studies framework, Uganda’s target of having first oil remains 2020. “We gave the joint venture partners up to the end of this year (December 31, 2017) to make a Final Investment Decision (FID); a decision on whether to invest or not to invest in our country,” she said, adding that government expects the oil companies to abide by the agreed deadline as penned on the production licenses awarded last August. “Joint venture partners have sunk in over $ 3 billion for the last 10 years. So they are also looking forward to recouping their investment and everyone is asking government why it is taking us forever to get out oil out of the ground,” she noted. Therefore, Final Investment Decision (FID) by the end of 2017, and ‘first oil’ by 2020, must become a reality, Muloni emphasized.

    Speaking on behalf of the joint venture partners, General Manager Total E&P Uganda, Adewale Fayemi explained that FEED studies will allow the joint venture partners to make a Final Investment Decision (FID) before the end of this year as per the contracts signed with government of Uganda. “This is a milestone in the country’s journey towards oil production by 2020. We are currently preparing a call for tender for enabling infrastructure design work which is expected to be awarded in May, 2017,” Adewale told Oil in Uganda. He further revealed that the FEED studies will however not include the kingfisher area operated by CNOOC-this is yet to be launched.

    The enabling infrastructure are works required ahead of major engineering and construction work including local access, site preparation, fencing and similar tasks for which Ugandan companies are expected to be involved. Exploration Area 1 and 2 will require at least one CPF located in Buliisa district and will have capacity to produce 200,000bpd. The second CPF will be located in the Kingfisher area and will capacity to produce 30,000bpd. In total, the country expects to produce 230,000 barrels of oil per day, out of which the refinery will require 30,000 barrels while the 200,000 barrels will be exported through the East African Crude Oil Pipeline. Last month, the governments of Tanzania and Uganda launched the Front End Engineering Design (FEED) study for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project ( EACOP) which is expected to be completed after eight months.

    Report by Edward Ssekika.

  • Works at Kilembe mines in Kasese district resumed 3 years ago after Tibet Hima Industry Mining Company was awarded the concession. Photo from C4MRE

    Government Warns Tibet Hima Company Over Safety Concerns

    Works at Kilembe mines in Kasese district resumed 3 years ago after Tibet Hima Industry Mining Company was awarded the concession. Photo from C4MRE

    The Internal Mines report reveals that the company has so far invested only $ 51 million in revamping the mine but there are no mechanisms of tracking the ‘actual’ investment in the mine

    Technocrats in the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM) under the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development have ordered Tibet Hima Industry Mining Company Ltd to halt its activities over safety concerns, Oil in Uganda has learnt.

    In the recent Internal Mines Inspection report submitted to Director of Mines, the technocrats noted that Tibet Hima Mining Company flouting all the terms of the concession agreement.

    “We recommend that Tibet Hima Industry Mining Company Ltd  halt mining activities until it has put in place adequate occupational health and safety provisions, which include proper underground ventilation, provision of relevant protective gear to mine workers, safety and precautionary signage in underground workings, a processing plant and in all concession projects,” the report reads.

    “Miners were found working without protective gears which is dangerous to their health and as regards to mining best practices, it was also evident that mining methods being used did not cater for sustainable exploitation of Uganda’s mineral resources,” the report elaborates.

    Tibet Hima Industry Mining Company, a consortium of Chinese companies was awarded a concession to revive the mining activities at Kilembe copper mines, process copper and associated minerals to final products in 2013.

    According to the DGSM technocrats, the findings are based on field inspection of the mine conducted between June and July 2016 and it exhibited that mining operations at Kilembe site is more of a shadow of the previous Kilembe Mines operation described as ‘mechanized artisanal operation.’

    As the regulator of the sector, DGSM undertook on-site inspection of Kilembe mines mainly to appraise concessionaire’s performance in regards to undertakings outlined specifications on the concession agreement.

    Interestingly, the report acknowledges that since signing the concession with Government three years ago, Tibet Hima Mining Company has been able to rehabilitate the cobalt concentrator plant; where they have imported and fabricated on site flotation cells, installed a 1,500 ton per day ball mill and accessory spiral classifier, renovated one of the two existing thickeners and one of the six existing crushed ore bins, and also installed a new vacuum concentrate filtration unit among others.

    The report however states that despite these achievements, the procurement procedures were done without passing through the agreed channels and procurement committees.

    The company committed itself to injecting in $ 175 million to revamp the mines, rehabilitate the concentrator plant by replacing all the floatation cells and replace all the old mills with new modern mills in order to produce more than 24,000 tons per annum of copper in the first three years.

    According to  Alex Kwatampora, the Project Manager at Tibet Hima Mining Company, the report do reflect on the gaps in their activities but they have since rectified the problems.  He explained that the company is going to invest $ 175 million dollars in a phased approach and part of this money ($ 26 million) will go towards upgrading Mubuku hydro power dam from the current 5 megawatts of power to 12 megawatts and finally to 17.6 megawatts.

    “Yes we had some gaps at the time of inspection, but we have corrected them. We have recruited new mine engineers and provided all workers with protective gear in line with the recommendations,” he explained to Oil in Uganda.

    Weighing on the investment, Kwatampora explained that DGSM technocrats’ mandate is to ensure that the company adheres to the technical aspects spelt out in the concession and not delve on the investment since it is not their concern.

    “We write quarterly reports to Ministry of Finance about the investments,” he told Oil in Uganda.

    “People have to understand that this is an old mine, re-opening it is not easy like building a new one, it is costly and requires a lot of time,” Kwatampora said adding that the company is to construct a copper smelter and refinery plant to process copper.

    Tibet Hima Mining Company Ltd will also conduct a comprehensive mineral exploration to increase on the known reserves of 4.5 million tonnes of copper at Kilembe

    The internal report reveals that the company has so far invested only $ 51 million in revamping the mine but there are no mechanisms of tracking the ‘actual’ investment in the mine.

    Among other concerns raised by the report; the company does not have a mine surveyor, a mine geologist as well as a geotechnical engineer to assist the mining engineer in monitoring the underground operations and recommends that it should employ these professional before resuming business.

    “Tibet Hima Mining Company Limited need to be instructed to fast track its undertakings as spelt out in the Concession Agreement, given that it recognizes it is behind schedule and ordered to file audited financial statements for purposes of tracking its investment,” the report recommends.

    Tibet Hima Mining Company Ltd officials however insist that it has rectified the problems and therefore no need to halt its activities.

    This is not the first time Tibet Hima Mining Company has been accused of irregularities. In March 2016, the company was forced to suspend its operations after an assessment report by the National Environment Management Authority indicated that the company’s sewage disposal unit had a negative environmental impact on the people in the area and the river Nyamwamba water streams.

    Whether the recommendation of the technical team will be effected still remains interplay between the technical arm of government and the president’s politics of ‘not fighting my investors’.

    Report by Edward Ssekika.