This overview of the connections between oil and land in Uganda was written for the second issue of our quarterly newsletter, now in print.
By an unfortunate twist of fate, Uganda’s oil and many other mineral resources lie beneath some of the poorest and most marginalised areas of the country. According to the 1995 Constitution, the state holds these resources in trust for the people; but the great risk is that they will be captured by predatory elites, rather than used for the benefit of the people as a whole. Read More
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
A senior official in Uganda’s Internal Security Organization (ISO), Major Herbert Asiimwe Muramagi, has been named in a complex land dispute in oil-rich Hoima District where, some locals allege, in April of last year he bought 1,200 hectares of land from an entity that had no right to sell it.
Members of the community in Kisukuma Parish, Kigorobya sub-county, further allege that when they resisted demands to vacate the land for the new owner they were beaten and arrested by armed police and soldiers.
When contacted by telephone on July 4, however, Major Muramagi—who is Maritime Director of the ISO, responsible for security on Lake Albert —denied involvement. “It is all lies. I do not own any land in Hoima and I have never owned land in Hoima,” he told Oil in Uganda.
“How could you say we were ‘lucky?,’” complains Richard Kaijuka, referring to Oil in Uganda’s June 5 article, Dominion pull-out begs questions about mysterious Ugandan oil company. “I can tell you that Alpha Oil [the mysterious company in question] did not make even one dollar out of this.”
Mr. Kaijuka does not contest any of the facts in the published story—which revealed that Alpha stood to take five percent of any profits from petroleum discovered in a Lake Edward Exploration Area—but, in an interview last week, he explained some of the background to the company. Read More
Civil society groups have challenged a recent news report on increased transparency in Uganda’s oil sector and repeated their call for the government to publish all oil deals.
An article that appeared in The New Vision on June 30 noted in its headline that “Government discloses oil deals.” However, campaigners argue, only limited information—on petroleum royalty rates—has been released to MPs. Read More
Uganda’s oil discovery has created market openings in several sectors, and universities are among those seeing opportunities, aiming to create petroleum courses that can supply professionally qualified technical and managerial staff.
For a long time only Makerere University’s Department of Geology and Petroleum Sciences offered a petroleum-related qualification: a Bachelors degree in Geology. Yet before the discovery of oil in 2006, its graduates had few chances to work in a relevant field and some were forced to move on to other fields.
Things have now changed. Read More
A firm contracted by the government to design a resettlement and compensation package for people displaced by the Hoima oil refinery project expects to conclude its initial study this week, according to the contractor, Strategic Friends International (SFI).
“We are finishing a field study of the area this week. We shall then embark on writing up the findings and hand over the final resettlement study to the government in September,” Koseya Wambaka, SFI’s head of operations, told Oil in Uganda. Read More
While the Natural Resources Committee of Uganda’s parliament scrutinises the draft petroleum bills tabled in February, an ad hoc parliamentary committee set up last year is investigating allegations of corruption in the oil sector. MPs evidently feel they have an important role to play. But what should that role be? Read More
KASENYI, BULIISA DISTRICT Months after the central government tried to quell land speculation in oil-rich Bunyoro by suspending the issue of new land titles, Oil in Uganda visited Kasenyi, on the north eastern shores of Lake Albert, and unearthed a tale of double-dealing and thuggery seemingly abetted by district leaders and security officials.
Eriakimi Kaseegu, the Kasenyi Local Council One Chairman, revealed that community land–including the plot where Tullow Oil’s Kasemene 3 well is located–was fraudulently sold by “outsiders” and that the community’s efforts to investigate the sale were met with violence and arbitrary arrests. Read More
In an exclusive interview with Oil in Uganda, the Omukama (King) of Bunyoro, Solomon Gafabusa Iguru, and his principal private secretary, Yoram Nsamba, continue to press the kingdom’s claims for a much larger share in oil revenues than the central government appears ready to grant.
They argue that a 1955 agreement between the then colonial Governor of Uganda and the then Omukama guarantees the kingdom a substantial share in revenues from mineral resource extraction and continues to have legal validity.
They add that international oil companies have promised much by way of support for the Bunyoro region, but that this has translated into “negligible” action. They further complain that outsiders are “distorting our culture.”
Key excerpts appear below, followed by a historical note putting the 1955 agreement in context. Read More