Everybody knows that oil is all about money for the companies, the contractors, the government, the speculators rushing to buy up land in Bunyoro . . . But if we re-phrase that thought as “It’s all about economics” it suddenly seems complicated and remote—something that non-economists struggle to understand. Yet, with parliament currently considering a Public Finance Bill that will make key decisions on oil revenue management, much wider public debate is needed over how Uganda’s share of the money should be spent and invested. The 3rd issue of Oil in Uganda’s quarterly, print newsletter, which is now rolling off the presses, tries to demystify the economics as a contribution to the debate. Here we re-publish one of the main articles from the newsletter, UGANDA’S OIL REVENUES: TEN KEY QUESTIONS Read More
An increase in reported cases of crop damage by elephants straying outside of Murchison Falls National Park is probably not due to oil exploration, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) country representative in Uganda, Dr. Alistair McNeilage.
But, he stresses, wildlife management challenges will certainly grow as companies put in the infrastructure needed to extract the oil.
“Lots of people have been saying that elephants are coming out of the park because they’ve been chased out by the oil,” McNeilage told Oil in Uganda. “But if you look at the areas they’re coming from, it’s mainly on the north east side [of the park]. Those elephants don’t seem to be the same ones that are in the areas [in the west of the park] where the oil activities have been going on.” Read More
Following widespread land wrangles in the oil-rich Albertine region, the Ministry of Lands has announced plans to resolve this through guidelines to aid in compensation of customary land owners.
“It is crucial at the moment since people’s rights are at stake and we have the responsibility of protecting the poor and their property. We therefore have to put in place guidelines to ensure that those big oil companies and investors have an arrangement to adhere to and operate within the laws,” Ministry spokesman, Dennis Obbo, told Oil in Uganda. Read More
By 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
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
More than 140 Ugandan members of parliament gathered in the Munyonyo Speke Resort today to ‘harmonise’ their positions ahead of the expected parliamentary debate next week on the two Petroleum Bills that were tabled in February.
The event was convened by the Parliamentary Forum on Oil and Gas (PFOG) which has criticised the draft laws more strongly than the Natural Resources Committee recommendations published last month.
PFOG, in common with many civil society groups, is calling for more limits on executive power and for stronger environmental and transparency provisions. Read More
More than a million tourists visited Uganda in 2011, bringing US$ 805 million in foreign exchange—the country’s biggest forex earner by a large margin. The Lonely Planet travel guide company has since named Uganda “top tourist destination for 2012.” But what has been the impact of the 16 oil exploration wells drilled inside Murchison Falls National Park, one of the main tourist attractions? What is happening to the animals that the tourists flock to see? Oil in Uganda visited Murchison to ask park staff and neighbouring communities, and also contacted tour operators who expressed concern for the future of their trade as the oil industry ramps up for production. Read More
“Although the government of Uganda has made significant efforts to put in place fairly elaborate policy, legal and institutional mechanisms to address the environment[al] challenges of the gas and oil sector, the lack of capacity to implement these policies and enforce the corresponding laws has grossly undermined their effectiveness,” according to a recent Capacity Needs Assessment for the Environmental Pillar Institutions in Uganda conducted on behalf of the National Environment Management Authority by an independent consulting company with funding from the Norwegian goverment through their Oil for Development programme. Read More
The United States government through its donor agency U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) plans to finance the creation of energy-management Doctorate and Master’s degree programs at Makerere University to help “current and future Ugandan professionals” and others to develop expertise “in sound environmental management and biodiversity conservation in relation to oil and gas development.” Read More
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