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  • The Big Story Behind the Eviction of Mubende Gold Miners

    In the aftermath of the ruthless eviction of Artisanal and Small-scale Miners (ASMs) from the gold mines in Mubende District on August 3, 2017, President Museveni said he had not given the directive but rather had only told the soldiers and other security agencies to be on standby. Victims of that unforgettable day recount how security personnel had told them that the deployment was to support the process of registering the miners. “However, when I awoke that morning I looked around the mines and it looked like a scene from a war movie. Tanks had been stationed on hill tops facing us. That day I thought there was war,” recounted Emmanuel Kibirige, an artisanal gold miner who has been involved in the trade for the last about 12 years. That and many more stories of pandemonium have severally been told by thousands of victims who were given a two-hour ultimatum by the operations Commander of the day to vacate the mines. In the ensuing chaos, property and cash worth billions of shillings were lost in a very short time. Mubende vis a vis Other gold mining areas of Uganda Artisanal gold mining in Uganda takes place majorly in areas of Mubende, Busia, Namayingo, Buhweju, Karamoja and Bugiri. Whereas the 2006 geophysical aerial survey was not carried out in Karamoja owing to insecurity, gold mining is mainly attributed to speculators. As such gold rushes are common in the sub-region as miners shift from place to place and, according to the Acting District Natural Resources Officer of Nakapiripirit, some mining companies that operate are not known whether they possess licenses or not. Elsewhere, artisanal miners and big players such as mining companies have secured licenses to operate hence a semblance of order albeit a few cases of displacement and poor compensation of locals. In Busia for example, where the gold mining trade, that dates back to the 1930s, has run in families across generations, there are about 456 location licenses held by artisanal miners who are mostly natives. Vincent Kedi, the Principal Mining Engineer at the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM) noted that ASMs in Busia are more organized which helps to facilitate the process faster. “Whereas we have sensitized miners across the country about existing mining procedures, people in Busia are the only ones that have taken heed. The moment they discover an area with gold they immediately embark on processing a location license,” he said. In comparison however, Mubende is challenging. Over 90% of the people that operated in the mines were not natives which explained the population of more than 50,000 people. These included foreigners from neighbouring countries mainly DR Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya and Burundi. Interestingly, artisanal gold mining in Mubende dates as far back as the 1980s, according the Kitumbi Sub-county Community Development Officer, Edward Ssenkusu, also a born of the area. “Around 1989, I always heard my father one Ssemanda Edward say that he was going to the mines at Kamalange and on several occasions, while visiting my aunt Nankusu, I passed Kamalange wetland and saw men carrying sacks of sand which contained the gold deposits,” Senkusu says. However, Gertrude Njuba, a bush war heroine, claims she first acquired this gold mining area of Mubende in 1986, “without the slightest hint of what lay underneath,” according to reference of an interview by the Daily Monitor. Her company first acquired a location license for the area measuring about 207 square kilometers in 1987, and subsequently a mining lease for the area in 1994. Battle of licenses During a handover ceremony of safety gears to members of Singo Artisanal & Small Scale Miners Association (SASSMA) miners by ActionAid Uganda in 2016, the spokesperson then John Bosco Bukya said they had applied for location licenses in 2013 but were yet to get a response. However, records at the DGSM indicate that the area for which the miners had applied, having already been working there without a license, was licensed to AUC Mining (U) Limited on 20th February 2013, having applied on 22nd October, 2012. The area measures 144.7824 square kilometers. The miners however argued that the original company, Gemstone International, originally had an exploration license for the area, whose duration was three years, of which upon expiration the company was expected to relinquish 50% of the area. Effectively, the company had not done any exploration because the miners occupied the area. In a dossier by AUC Mining U) Limited presented to the President making their case as the rightful licensed party for the disputed area, they indicated that the miners had interfered with their work where they had marked sample sites from which they extracted data. “The miners actually started invading the area after discovering the company had discovered samples of gold. The local people that were employed during these geophysical studies spread the word and people started flocking the area,” Kedi said. Anthony Kinene, the Natural Resources Officer of Mubende and borne of the area, says the first official report of artisanal gold miners in Mubende was in 2012 when the numbers became astronomical. According to the dossier, the company had spent close to 57 billion shillings on geological activities and paid at least 100 million shillings in taxes. Politics, security concerns In the aftermath of the evictions, miners said the President had betrayed them and he occasionally made verbal pledges that Mubende miners were safe and would continue to work without interference. John Bosco Bukya said that during the President’s state of the nation address of 2016, he had given them assurance that they were safe and would continue working. Following the evictions, the desperate miners said the president had all along been using them as political capital. Word of impending evictions came in early 2017 when there was a reported directive from the President for the miners to vacate the mines. On two occasions, the area Members of Parliament including Hon. Betty Namugwanya and Hon. Patrick Nsamba coordinated meetings to have the president visit the area and speak to miners but to no avail. Legally however; the miners save for those belonging to Kayonza-Kitumbi Miners Association who were already licensed, were not supposed to be occupying the mines. The then Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Dr. Stephen Isabalijja claimed during a stormy session before the committee on natural resources in parliament that the miners posed a security threat and government had to act fast. Claims of wrong elements posing as miners had been rife. Indeed among the over 70 people arrested during the evictions that were seen by a legal team assembled by ActionAid Uganda, nearly all were found to be foreign nationals from neighbouring countries. Making a come back The evictions sparked outrage countrywide but unsurprisingly the President would give the miners an ear. The first attempt to meet him during an address on radio in Mubende flopped when he promised them a meeting at a more appropriate time. Indeed on September 26th 2017, the meeting happened at State House, Nakasero where security officials led by then Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura; energy ministry officials and miners’ representatives convened at what turned out to be a heated affair between the miners and representatives of AUC Mining Company. The company representatives were unrelenting and would not back down even when the President asked Moses Masagazi, a partner in AUC Mining company, to relinquish part of the area to the miners. It is reported that during the meeting, the company representatives claimed that they had to be compensated with Shs 2 billion for a 10 square kilometer area in Madudu Sub-county that had been proposed for relocation of the miners. As the technocrat on ground, Anthony Kinene disputed the claim, adducing proof that the proposed area was never part of that license. Following protracted negotiations, the President directed Hon. Irene Muloni, the Energy Minister that AUC Mining relinquishes 30% of their area to the miners. There was however a hitch, when it turned out that the letter was addressed to an unknown group of miners posing as the Federation of Artisanal Miners of Uganda. On investigation it was discovered the federation was in fact headed by the late Stella Njuba, daughter to Gertrude Njuba. Fresh Fight The miners, under their umbrella association, Mubende United Miners Association (MUMA) which brings together 21 associations had to put up a fresh fight, which however culminated into fresh negotiations and later concessions to share just 10% of the 30% because by now they were running low in energy and desperate to return to work. Gradually the miners started to make a breakthrough, with their major milestone being a meeting with the Operation Wealth Creation boss, and the president’s young brother Gen. Salim Saleh at Serene Hotel in Mutundwe. According to Bukya John Bosco, the meeting was very cordial and Gen. Saleh pledged that the miners would soon resume work. “We are now in advanced stages of receiving location licenses as members of MUMA; everything is in order now after we came to an understanding with the Federation,” the MUMA Chairperson Bukya John Bosco said. The negotiations through different power holders paid off as the miners were eventually granted permission to return to Kasanda district mining gold areas, specically in Katugo, Kitoma, and Nfuka all located in Kitumbi sub-county. They have secured 15 location licenses and expect about 15 more, which puts them in a safe position to resume mining legally. By Robert Mwesigye Edited by Flavia Nalubega Edited By Didas Muhumuza

  • Peter Lokeris

    Ministry of Energy launches Biometric Registration of ASMs in Uganda

    A landmark event in the mining sector of Uganda as the country positions extractives industries as the engine for social and economic development saw the launch of the biometric registration of artisanal miners’ project on 29th March 2019. The project is geared towards formalizing and regulating the activities of ASMs in the country to realise and actualize their developmental role in the sector as Uganda works towards achieving her development agenda as enshrined in the Vision 2040. Speaking at the launch, Hon. Peter Lokeris, State Minister for Minerals Development noted that government recognizes the development role of the ASM sub-sector, which must be well organized to realize its full potential. Engineer Vincent Kedi, the Acting Commissioner for Geological Survey and Mines, hailed the different Civil Society Organizations that are working with the sector to make it better. He hailed ActionAid Uganda for coming on board to work with government to harness the potential of the sector through supporting vital efforts like today’s event and those aimed at organizing ASMs in Uganda. Mr. Don Biniyina, Executive Director of Africa Centre for Energy and Mineral Policy, which was contracted by government to implement BRASM, noted that the event was a special one for artisanal and small-scale miners as it has come as a result of protracted negotiations with government through the ministry to formalize ASMs that have for long been referred to as illegal. He noted that it also marks an important day for ACEMP as the implementers of the project. Mr. Didas Muhumuza, the Coordinator for Extractives Governance work at Action Aid Uganda, that supported the launch of the event but also mobilized ASMs from different regions to attend, reiterated that just as AAU’s mission is to support marginalized communities to fight social injustices, the organization is committed to continually support the artisanal and small-scale miners in their struggles and work together with government to harness the potential of the ASM sub-sector. He also pointed out that AAU champions the domestication of the African Mining Vision (AMV), which was assented to by Heads of States and Governments under the African Union in 2009. The AMV provides for among other key aspects the formalization of ASMs and protection of their rights and livelihoods. The launch of BRASM by MEMD was supported by ACEMP (as the implementer of the project) in partnership with ActionAid International Uganda(AAIU).

  • phillip debates

    Oil jobs: Government to establish Petroleum Skills Development Fund

    At least $ 44.7m will be injected in the fund in the next 8 years to skill Ugandans for Oil jobs. In order to increase the number of Ugandans with qualifications and skills to take up jobs in the oil and gas sub-sector, government plans to establish a fund – Petroleum Skills Development Fund. The fund is expected to finance trainings and skilling of Ugandans to match the skills and certifications required in the oil and gas industry. The proposal to establish a skills development fund for the oil sub-sector is contained in the Workforce Skills Development Strategy and Plan for the oil and gas sub-sector in Uganda that was launched recently. The aim of the workforce skills development strategy and plan is meant is to maximise the quantity and quality of employment opportunities for Ugandans in oil, gas and other related sectors. According to the workforce skills development plan, the oil and gas sub-sector is expected to create at least 161,700 jobs (at peak during the construction phase of the entire planned infrastructure for the up-stream and mid-stream developments). Of these, 14,000 will be direct, 42,700 indirect and 105,000 induced jobs. Once the construction phase will be completed, there will be limited opportunities since the project(s) shall not require many people to run it. However, most Ugandans are left out in jobs due to lack of requisite skills, qualifications and certifications. “The main impediment to employing a larger share of Ugandans in the petroleum sector is a shortage of personnel with adequate education and training coupled with inadequate related work experience. The main thrust of the Ugandan national content effort shall therefore be directed at building the capabilities of Ugandan personnel for contributing effectively to petroleum operations,” strategy paper reads in part. A total of $ 44.7 million dollars (Approximately Shs 163 bn) will be injected into the fund in the next eight years (up to 2025). “The Petroleum Skills Development Fund will have its funds replenished by allocating a percentage of revenue generated by international oil companies (IOCs) and Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractors and/or sub-contractors to dedicated training activities each year,” the strategy paper reads. Government also plans to levy a fee of 2% payable on the total gross emoluments paid to international employees and the total gross payments made in respect of labour-only contractors, to raise money for the fund. “In its first five years of operation, the Petroleum Skills Development Fund will be supplemented by a straightforward tax on foreign workers. Such a levy would involve a single one-off payment of $10,000 imposed on all oil & gas employers for every foreign worker brought into Uganda who is not a national of the East African Community”, the strategy reads. According to the skills development strategy, the Ministry of Finance working in partnership with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development will have responsibility for designing and overseeing the mechanism for verifying and collecting these funds. The Petroleum Skills Development Fund will be overseen by the National Content Steering Committee which will constitute a separate sub-committee under the leadership of an independent Chair respected by both Government and the international oil industry. The Petroleum Skills Development Fund will have its own dedicated bank account to maintain a clear link between revenues and funds raised from employers and funds allocated to training activities. Without this clear link, international experience shows that employers will lose confidence that funds are being utilised effectively to address their specific skills’ needs. In addition to the funds raised through the payroll training levy and one-off tax on foreign workers, the Petroleum Skills Development Fund will also be open to contributions from development partners or other agencies with an interest in pooling resources and contributing towards Oil & Gas skills development in Uganda. By Edward Ssekika Edited by Flavia Nalubega Edited by Didas Muhumuza

  • Tullow-Oil-Logo-279x210

    Museveni, Tullow boss make a deal on Capital Gains Tax

    Tullow is set to sell a substantial part of its assets in Uganda to Total E&P Uganda and CNOOC Uganda – a farm-down that attracts capital gains tax.

    President Yoweri Museveni and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tullow Oil plc have agreed a deal that will enable oil company enjoy a phased payment of capital gains tax accruing from the sale of part of its assets in the Albertine graben. Tullow Uganda Ltd –a subsidiary of Tullow Oil plc in January 2017 announced the sale of a substantial part of its assets in Uganda to Total E&P Uganda and CNOOC Uganda Ltd in a farm-down that attracts capital gains tax.

    According to Tullow Oil plc’s full year statement, the Chief Executive Officer of Tullow Oil plc, Mr Paul McDade and President Yoweri Museveni met on January 19th, 2019 in which the issue of capital gains tax from the sale of part of the company’s assets in Uganda was discussed. The 30-page company full year results report was released on February 13th, 2019. The meeting was also attended by the CEO of Total S.A. In the meeting, Tullow Oil agreed the principles for Capital Gains Tax on its $900 million (approximately Shs 3.3 trillion) farm-down to CNOOC Uganda and Total E&P Uganda. Cabinet gave Tullow Oil’s farm-down to Total E&P Uganda and CNOOC Uganda a green light. “Following meetings in January 2019 between the CEOs of both Tullow Plc and Total S.A, and President Museveni of Uganda, the government and the Joint Venture Partners are now engaged in discussions to finalise an agreement reflecting this tax treatment that will enable completion of the farm-down to take place,” the financial statement reads in part.

    The report adds, “Any Capital Gains Tax is expected to be phased and partly linked to project progress. At completion of the farm-down, Tullow anticipates receiving a cash payment of $100 million and a payment of the working capital completion adjustment and deferred consideration for the pre-completion period of $108 million.”

    A further $50 million of cash consideration will be made and is anticipated to be received when the Final Investment Decision is taken on the development project, possibly mid this year or thereabout. The deal is meant to avoid a possible dispute between government and Tullow Oil over the payment of the capital gains tax. In 2012, Tullow Oil was embroiled in a dispute with the tax body – Uganda Revenue Authority over payment of capital gains tax following the farm-out by former Heritage Oil Uganda in favour of Tullow Oil Uganda, which led to protracted litigation. Uganda came out as the victor and the payment was effected accordingly.

    Final Investment Decision (FID) The report also notes a delay by Joint Venture Partners to reach a Final Investment Decision (FID). “The joint venture partners – Tullow Oil Uganda, Total E&P Uganda and CNOOC Uganda continue to work towards reaching FID for the development project around mid-2019,” the report reads in part.

    Mark MacFarlane, the Executive Vice President of Tullow Oil for East Africa noted in the report, “This year the East Africa team will be driving hard towards two Final Investment Decisions on our East African projects which have the potential to deliver over 50,000 barrels of oil per day of net production to Tullow by the early 2020s,” he said. Mark MacFarlane emphasised that Tullow’s East Africa team is making good progress on delivering the potential the projects offer. Edward Ssekika Edited by Flavia Nalubega Edited by Didas Muhumuza Oil.Uganda@actionaid.org

  • auditor general

    Shs 125 billion withdrawn from the Petroleum Fund irregularly – Auditor General

    Auditor General notes the money was withdrawn from the petroleum fund without following procedures laid down in the Public Finance Management Act, 2015.

    In his latest report to Parliament, John Muwanga, Auditor General has faulted the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED) of irregular withdrawal of Shs 125 billion from the Petroleum Fund.

    In the report to Parliament for the Financial year ended 30th, June 2018, the Auditor General notes that money was withdrawn from the Petroleum Fund and transferred to the consolidated fund in total disregard of the Public Finance Management Act, 2015. The 450-page report containing the disturbing news was released in December, 2018.

    Section 58 of the Public Finance Management Act, 2015, requires that withdrawals from the Uganda Petroleum Fund to the Uganda Consolidated Fund to be made under authority granted by an Appropriation Act. Section 59(3) of the Public Finance Management Act, ring fences petroleum revenues to financing infrastructure and development projects only. However, from the report, it is not clear what kind of expenditures the money was used for.

    “I noted that management transferred Uganda Shillings125 billion on 2nd, November 2017, from the Uganda Petroleum Fund to the Consolidated Fund, without explicit mention of the Uganda Petroleum Fund in the Appropriation Act, as a source of funding,” the report reads in part. Instead, the withdrawal was premised on the medium term expenditure framework for the financial years, 2015/16-2021/22 submitted to parliament which includes the different sources of revenues financing the budget.

    “In the absence of guidance from the Appropriation Act, which would indicate the activities for which the funds have been budgeted, there is no assurance as to whether the funds were used to finance infrastructure and development projects of Government, as provided for under Public Finance Management Act, 2015,” the report reads in part.

    According to the report, in response, the Ministry of Finance explained in the management letter that the Appropriation Act, provides for only expenditures but does not reflect the various sources of funding for the budget, and that discussions are ongoing to review the presentation of the Appropriation Act to incorporate funding sources.

    In the report, the Auditor General advised the responsible Ministries to align the legal framework to sufficiently provide for a format of the Appropriation Act which shows the purpose, activities and amounts of the Petroleum Funds to be appropriated under the Consolidated Fund, or to be transferred to the investment reserve account.

    The Auditor General revelations continue to cast doubt on government’s willingness to transparently manage oil revenues. For instance, in 2017, a report of the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) revealed that $633.7 million dollars (approximately Shs 2.2 trillion) oil revenues had been spent under unclear circumstances.

    The COSASE report didn’t give details how and where the money had been spent, but the Secretary to the Treasury in a letter, stated it was spent on the construction of Karuma hydro power plant. However, the Cabinet of Uganda approved the country’s ascent to the membership of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) thereby providing hopes for more transparency and accountability in the extractive sector, only if the initiative shall be properly applied to its true purpose. By Edward Ssekika Edited by Flavia Nalubega oil.Uganda@actionaid.org

  • rubondo

    National Oil and Gas Talent Register to boost employment of Ugandans in the sector

    The National Oil and Gas Talent Register (NOGTR) will boost employment of Ugandans in the nascent oil and gas sector, according to Mr. Ernest Rubondo, the Executive Director, Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU).

    On 1st February, the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) launched the National Oil and Gas Talent Register. At the launch, Rubondo explained that the the talent register is open to all qualified Ugandans. Registration of Ugandans on the register started on February, 1, 2019. Rubondo added that the register is meant to boost local content and bridge gaps between employers and employees in the oil and gas sector.

    “Registration is continuous and free of charge. However, this does not waive competition for the available jobs. There are over 400 job profiles on the National Oil and Gas Talent Register [NOGTR],” he added. Ugandans will be required to update their profiles once a year. “With a human resource register in place, we will be able to demand for a fair consideration for Ugandan employees because it will be easier to identify potential talent.” Rubondo added that the register will constitute a database of available human capacities and technical skills for the oil and gas sector in Uganda. “The register has the demand and supply side users. The demand side users are the companies, Ministries, Government Departments and Agencies (MDAs) which meet the eligibility criteria and offer employment in the sector. On the supply side are individuals who meet eligibility criteria for the work force demands,” Rubondo explained.

    The National Oil and Gas Talent Register promotes the employment of Ugandan Citizens in the sector. One of the areas the National Content Policy for the oil and gas sector provides for is building the capabilities of Uganda’s human resources. This is expected to ease the recruitment processes in the sector and minimize the use of expatriates. The National Oil and Gas Talent Register (NOGTR) is one of the initiatives of growing the participation of Uagndan citizens in the nascent oil and gas sector.

    One of the key aspects of the Authority under the regulatory role is to ensure the growing participation of Ugandans in the sector. The Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) is mandated under regulation 31 of the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) (National Content), Regulations 2016 to establish, maintain and operate a National Human Capacity register herein referred to as the National Oil and Gas Talent Register (NOGTR).

    The same Regulations compel companies involved in the oil and gas sector to ensure that Ugandan citizens are given priority for employment in any petroleum activity. The regulations also restrict issuance of work permits to expatriates.

    The Ministry of Internal Affairs, according to the regulations can only issue a work permit after the Petroleum Authority has furnished evidence that there are no Ugandans on the national talent register qualified for the job. When work permits are granted to an expatriate, the oil companies are required to submit to the Authority for approval a succession plan for all positions not held by Ugandan citizens.

    By Edward Ssekika Edited by Flavia Nalubega

  • scholar_ad

    Oil jobs: Government to establish Petroleum Skills Development Fund

    Geoffrey Gokaka (L), Immaculate Namuleme, Kato Tonny Magembe and French Ambassador H.E Sophy Makame

    Oil jobs: Government to establish Petroleum Skills Development Fund At least $ 44.7m will be injected in the fund in the next 8 years to skill Ugandans for Oil jobs In order to increase the number of Ugandans with appropriate qualifications and skills to take up jobs in the oil and gas sub-sector, government plans to establish a fund – the Petroleum Skills Development Fund. The fund is expected to finance trainings and skilling of Ugandans to match the skills and certifications required in the oil and gas industry. The proposal to establish a skills development fund for the oil sub-sector is contained in the Workforce Skills Development Strategy and Plan for the oil and gas sub-sector in Uganda that was launched late 2018. The aim of the workforce skills development strategy and plan is meant to maximise the quantity and quality of employment opportunities for Ugandans in oil, gas and other related sectors. According to the workforce skills development plan, the oil and gas subsector is expected to create at least 161,700 jobs (at peak during the construction phase of the entire planned infrastructure for the up-stream and mid-stream developments). Of these, 14,000 will be direct, 42,700 indirect and 105,000 induced jobs. Once the construction phase will be completed, there will be limited opportunities since the project(s) shall not require many people to run it. However, most Ugandans are left out in jobs due to lack of requisite skills, qualifications and certifications. “The main impediment to employing a larger share of Ugandans in the petroleum sub-sector is a shortage of personnel with adequate education and training coupled with inadequate related work experience. The main thrust of the Ugandan national content effort shall therefore be directed at building the capabilities of Ugandan personnel for contributing effectively to petroleum operations,” the strategy paper reads in part. A total of $ 44.7 million dollars (Approximately Shs 163 billion) will be injected into the fund in the next eight years (up to 2025). “The Petroleum Skills Development Fund will have its funds replenished by allocating a percentage of revenue generated by international oil companies (IOCs) and Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractors and/or subcontractors to dedicated training activities each year,” the strategy paper reads. Government also plans to levy a fee of 2% payable on the total gross emoluments paid to international employees and the total gross payments made in respect of labour-only contractors, to raise money for the fund. “In its first five years of operation, the Petroleum Skills Development Fund will be supplemented by a straightforward tax on foreign workers. Such a levy would involve a single one-off payment of $10,000 imposed on all oil & gas employers for every foreign worker brought into Uganda who is not a national of the East African Community”, the strategy reads. According to the skills development strategy, the Ministry of Finance working in partnership with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development will have responsibility for designing and overseeing the mechanism for verifying and collecting these funds. The Petroleum Skills Development Fund will be overseen by the National Content Steering Committee which will constitute a separate sub-committee under the leadership of an independent Chair respected by both Government and the international oil industry. The Petroleum Skills Development Fund will have its own dedicated bank account to maintain a clear link between revenues and funds raised from employers and funds allocated to training activities. Without this clear link, international experience shows that employers will lose confidence that funds are being utilized effectively to address their specific skills’ needs. In addition to the funds raised through the payroll training levy and oneoff tax on foreign workers, the Petroleum Skills Development Fund will also be open to contributions from development partners or other agencies with an interest in pooling resources and contributing towards Oil & Gas skills development in Uganda. Edward Ssekika Oil.Uganda@actionaid.org Edited by Flavia Nalubega

  • The Omukama of Bunyoro marked his 24th coronation anniversary on monday. Photo by Francis Mugerwa

    Hoima residents demand for ‘oil jobs’

    Residents of Buseruka sub county, accuse SBC – a company that is constructing Hoima International Airport of coming with their workers from Kayunga to the detriment of the locals “Early this year, When SBC Uganda Limited [A company constructing Hoima International Airport] started construction of the airport early this year, we [local people] were promised jobs. However, we only see buses ferrying workers from Hoima to here, where are the jobs they promised us,” Julius Muhumuza asks angrily. Muhumuza said that he got recommendations from local leaders to get a job as a casual laborer. However, he was never given the job. Just like Muhumuza, Bosco Twaha another resident of Nyamasoga village, Buseruka sub-county, Hoima district complains, “I have a class A driving permit [a driving class for truck drivers]. I applied for a job as a driver but my application was turned down”. Nyamasoga village is just adjacent to Hoima International Airport that is under construction. The airport is one of the oil-related infrastructure projects required before the country can start oil production. However, local people in Hoima have expressed their dissatisfaction with SBC Uganda Ltd – a company that was granted a contract to construct the Hoima International Airport over the failure to employ them. The locals accuse the company of deliberately locking them out of oil related jobs. They are accusing SBC-Uganda Limited of not implementing local content policy requirements to enable locals benefit from the project. They claim that the company has considered other young people from other places of the country and that few are from within. However, the company officials say locals have been given jobs. Currently, SBC Uganda Ltd employs a total of 664 people at the airport construction site. Out of these, the company explains that 147 people hail from Hoima district alone. Currently, most of the work at airport construction site includes clearing the bushes for the runways, operating construction machines such as excavators, drivers and other casual jobs among others. He says the company is committed to ensure that at least 30 percent of its work force are local people. Stanislaus Birungi, the Human Resource Manager, SBC-Uganda Limited explains that they are currently on earth works whereby the jobs are fixed, adding that most of those who come seeking for jobs do not qualify. He denies claims that the local people have been locked out of jobs. “How many wheel loader operators do we have? How many people have heavy trucks driving permits?. Most people do not have required skills and experience. We need few mechanics and builders at the moment,” he added. Mr. Ali Tinkamanyire, the sub-county Chairman of Buseruka attributes the local anguish to high expectations people have in the oil and gas sector. “Not everyone will be employed in the oil and gas sector,” he said. He appealed to central government to ensure that local people are trained and skilled to be able to participate in the sector. Recently, in a new twist and out of anger, the local people ambushed the company vans transporting SBC workers and pelted them with stones.Allan Julius Hakiza, police spokesperson for oil rich Albertine region says police intervened and started escorting the vans to the construction site. “We realized that escorting the vans was not a sustainable option, we conducted community policing meetings in those villages, where we explained to the local people to be patient or look for other options of benefiting from the sector. Not everybody is going to be employed in the oil and gas sector,” Hakiza said. The locals say, most of the workers at the airport construction site hail from Kayunga district where SBC Uganda has been constructing a road. “SBC has come with their people from Kayunga. This is unacceptable,” Muhumuza says angrily. Edward Ssekika Oil.Uganda@actionaid.org

  • Oil and Gas Summit

    Tilenga Project: Government to conduct public oil hearings

    Government has accepted to hold two public hearings over the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report for the Tilenga oil project.

    The public is hereby notified that the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) has been requested by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to hold public hearings for the Environmental and Social impact Assessment report for the proposed Tilenga project, a statement released by PAU last evening reads in part.

    The name Tilenga is derived from two local names for the Uganda Kob (Antelope) which is called “Til” in Acholi and “Engabi” in Runyoro-Rutoro.

    NEMA received the ESIA from Total E&P Uganda and Tullow Uganda operations Pty Ltd for the proposed Tilenga project.

    Under the Tilenga project, the Government through its licensed oil companies has discovered commercially viable oil deposits north of Victoria Nile in Murchison falls national park and south of Victoria Nile in Buliisa district.

    The project includes jobi-Rii, Gunya, Ngiri, Kasemene, wahrindi, Nsoga, Kigogole oil fields. In 2016, Government granted petroleum production licenses to Total Exploration and Production Uganda B.V (TEPU) and Tullow Uganda operations Pty Ltd (TUOP) to develop and operate upstream petroleum facilities in the Albertine graben. Oil Licenses

    TEPU was granted production licenses for Ngiri, Jobi-Rii, Gunya fields while TUOP was granted production licenses in Mputa,Nzizi,Waraga, Kasemene, Wahrindi, Kigogole-Ngara,Nsoga and Ngege fields.

    The development of six fields namely Ngiri, Jobi-Rii, Gunya, Kigogole and Kasemene-Wahrindi within Buliisa and Nwoya districts will form part of the Tilenga project.

    The Tilenga project will be funded by TEPU, TUOP, CNOOC Uganda Ltd and Uganda National Oil Company.

    Composition According to the project documents which oil in Uganda has seen, the Tilenga project is composed of well pads, a central processing facility and other associated facilities, production and injection network of pipelines and cables, Bugungu airstrip, Tangi operation camp, a water abstraction system, victoria Nile crossing, river Nile pipe crossing and some roads.

    The project also includes temporary construction camps, construction support base, a logistical check point in Masindi and borrow pits. NEMA’s notice

    Oil in Uganda reported this week how the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is seeking public comments on ESIA for the Tilenga project.

    A public hearing will be a forum in which relevant stakeholders and developers will be brought together to express opinions and offer suggestions on the proposed project to influence the decision making process during the ESIA approval.

    The hearings will be held in accordance with regulation 22 of the National Environment impact Assessment regulations 1998, the statement added.

    A public notice released by the NEMA Executive director Dr Tom Okurut informed the public that the outcomes of the public review will contribute towards making a final decision of the project in accordance with the Environment impact assessment regulations.

    The notice asked members of the public to submit their comments by November 9th 2018.

    Concern of CSOs However, 13 CSOs demanded for public hearings over the project.

    “It is through public hearings that oil host and affected communities, the poor, marginalised and illiterate will be able to make comments on the ESIA to enable NEMA make a decision based on the collective input of all concerned stakeholders” the CSOs said in a joint letter to the NEMA executive Director Dr Tom Okurut.

    The CSOs said they are concerned that in the notice, NEMA did not indicate that it will call for public hearings before making any decision on the ESIA.

    The concerns of the CSOs are contained in a letter dated October 17, 2018 which was submitted to NEMA by the AFIEGO Chief Executive Director Dickens Kamugisha on behalf of the CSOs.

    The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations of 1998 mandate NEMA to call for a public hearing where there is controversy or where a project has trans boundary impacts, the CSOs argued.

    “We need public hearings to ensure effective public consultations that can build consensus not only among Ugandan stakeholders but also stakeholders across the borders who are likely to be affected by the Tilenga project” said Kamugisha, a lawyer. Hearings

    Gloria Ssebikari, a senior communication officer at the the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU), PAU will conduct two public hearings this month.

    “The public is further notified that there will be two public hearings held on 12th November 2018 at Buliisa district headquarters and on 15th November 2018 at Gotapwoyo primary school, Gptapwoyo subcounty, Nwoya district from 9am to 5 pm” the notice reads in part.

    The notice indicated that public comments should be addressed to the presiding officer at PAU.

    Local communities fear that oil developments in an ecologically fragile area in Murchison falls national park and around the Nile delta could potentially affect the environment. The national park is one of Uganda’s leading tourism destinations and it hosts thousands of wild endangered species of animals, birds, insects and reptiles.

    River Nile waters are shared by Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Burundi, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Egypt and DRC.

    The CSOs have asked government to establish a multi-stakeholder committee comprised of actors from government, the private sector, religious and cultural groups, CSOs, the academia and others to act as an independent multidisciplinary oversight body to promote compliance with environmental conservation tools such as EIA, SEA, ESIA.

    The CSOs have further asked NEMA to delay any decision to issue a certificate of approval for the Tilenga ESIA until the new environmental laws and regulations are put in place by government and parliament. This will help the country to stop engaging in oil activities based on a weak and outdated environmental legal framework, the petition added.

    The CSOS that petitioned include the Africa institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), Environmental Conservation Trust of Uganda (ECOTRUST), Guild Presidents Forum on Oil Governance (GPFOG), Center for Constitutional Governance (CCG), South Western Center for Policy and Advocacy (SOWIPA), World Voices Uganda (WVU), Community Transformation Foundation Network (COTFONE), Greater, Green Organisation Africa (GOA)-Masindi, Oil Refinery Residents Association (ORRA)-Hoima, Kakindo Orphans Care-Buliisa, Girl Power foundation-Kasese, Friends of Nature-Kasese.

    Fears of Environmental damage

    The study released by the worldwide fund for nature (WWF) and the civil society Coalition on oil and gas (CSCO) titled “Safeguarding People & nature in the East African Crude Oil (EACOP) Pipeline,” expresses fears of a possible pollution of fresh water pollution in the Lake Victoria basin.

    According to a study, the East African crude oil pipeline will cross Kagera River, the largest river flowing into Lake Victoria.

    “The probability of leakage and spillage within the Lake Victoria watershed area is even greater given it is an active seismic area” the report stated.

    The report was released in July 2017 as a preliminary Threat Analysis (PTA) of the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).

    The Crude oil covering 1,445 km will transport crude oil from Hoima district in Western Uganda to Tanga port in Tanzania.

    The Pipeline project was commissioned by President Museveni And his Tanzanian counterpart John Pombe Magufuli in November 2017,.

    By Oil in Uganda correspondent, Bunyoro Edited by Flavia Nalubega

  • king-fisher-2-320x206

    NEMA reviews environmental concerns over Tilenga project

    The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is seeking public comments on the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report for the Tilenga oil project.

    The name Tilenga is derived from two local names for the Uganda Kob (Antelope) which is called “Til” in Acholi and “Engabi” in Runyoro-Rotoro.

    A notice which has been pinned on public notice boards in Buliisa district indicates that NEMA received the ESIA from Total E&P Uganda and Tullow Uganda operations Pty Ltd for the proposed Tilenga project.

    Under the Tilenga project, the Government through its licensed oil companies has discovered commercially viable oil deposits north of Victoria Nile in Murchison falls national park and south of Victoria Nile in Buliisa district.

    The project includes jobi-Rii, Gunya, Ngiri, Kasemene, wahrindi, Nsoga, Kigogole oil fields. Composition According to the project documents which oil in Uganda has seen, the Tilenga project is composed of well pads, a central processing facility and other associated facilities, production and injection network of pipelines and cables, Bugungu airstrip, Tangi operation camp, a water abstraction system, victoria Nile crossing, river Nile pipe crossing and some roads.

    The project also includes temporary construction camps, construction support base, a logistical check point in Masindi and borrow pits.

    “The public is further notified that the outcomes of the public review will contribute towards making a final decision of the project in accordance with the Environment impact assessment regulations” a notice released by the NEMA Executive director Dr Tom Okurut reads in part.

    According to the notice, members of the public have been asked to submit their comments by November 9th 2018. CSO Petition 13 civil society organisations have asked NEMA to hold public hearings to enable locals have an input in the studies.

    “It is through public hearings that oil host and affected communities, the poor, marginalised and illiterate will be able to make comments on the ESIA to enable NEMA make a decision based on the collective input of all concerned stakeholders” the CSOs said in a joint letter to the NEMA executive Director.

    According to the CSOs which are working to prevent the impacts of oil on biodiversity from Buliisa, Hoima, Kasese, Greater Masaka, South Western Uganda and Kampala, they are concerned that in the notice, NEMA did not indicate that it will call for public hearings before making any decision on the ESIA.

    The concerns of the CSOs are contained in a letter dated October 17, 2018 which was submitted to NEMA by the AFIEGO Chief Executive Director on behalf of the CSOs.

    The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations of 1998 mandate NEMA to call for a public hearing where there is controversy or where a project has trans boundary impacts, the CSOs argued.

    “The Tilenga oil project is controversial and will have trans boundary impacts. The project’s activities will include drawing of water from Lake Albert, whose boundaries remain a challenge between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It should be noted that even the existence of many agreements including the Uganda Zaire 1990 Agreement, the 2007 Uganda-DRC Ngurdoto Agreement and others whose main objective was to address the peace and security challenges in the Uganda-DRC border areas through among other things providing for a framework for benefit sharing and conservation of shared resources such as the Lake Albert waters, fish and others have failed to achieve lasting results” Dickens Kamugisha, the Chief Executive officer of the Africa institute for Energy Governance(AFIEGO).

    The CSOs warned that if the Tilenga project is not well handled, it may worsen the conflicts and loss of lives as well as environmental destruction in Uganda and the DRC.

    “We need public hearings to ensure effective public consultations that can build consensus not only among Ugandan stakeholders but also stakeholders across the borders who are likely to be affected by the Tilenga project” said Kamugisha, a lawyer.

    The CSO stated that available evidence indicates that NEMA has the skills and interest to do a good job but it cannot effectively play its role amidst weak and outdated laws.

    It is unfortunate that for over four years, government and parliament have failed or ignored the need to complete the enactment and formulation of the new environmental laws such as the National Environment Bill of 2017, the draft EIA and Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) regulations of 2017, the Uganda Wildlife Bill and others. Without such relevant laws to among other things improve NEMA’s independence, funding, penalties for environmental offenders, the CSOS stated in their five-paged petition to NEMA.

    It is especially unfortunate that todate, as government and oil companies are finalising major oil decisions that will have long lasting environmental and social impacts, there is no specific provision in our current laws including the 1995 National Environment Act, the Uganda Wildlife Act and others that specifically provides for NEMA to reject oil activities even in the most critical biodiversity areas such as Lake Albert, River Nile, Budongo Forest, Murchison Falls National Park, and others of national and international importance, the petition which was received and stamped by NEMA on 18th October reads in part. Demands

    “NEMA should use its powers not to issue any certificate of approval for oil projects as a condition to force parliament and government to complete the new environmental laws and regulations” the petition stated.

    The CSOs have asked government to establish a multi-stakeholder committee comprised of actors from government, the private sector, religious and cultural groups, CSOs, the academia and others to act as an independent multidisciplinary oversight body to promote compliance with environmental conservation tools such as EIA, SEA, ESIA.

    The CSOs have further asked NEMA to delay any decision to issue a certificate of approval for the Tilenga ESIA until the new environmental laws and regulations are put in place by government and parliament. This will help the country to stop engaging in oil activities based on a weak and outdated environmental legal framework, the petition added.

    The CSOS that petitioned include the Africa institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), Environmental Conservation Trust of Uganda (ECOTRUST), Guild Presidents Forum on Oil Governance (GPFOG), Center for Constitutional Governance (CCG), South Western Center for Policy and Advocacy (SOWIPA), World Voices Uganda (WVU), Community Transformation Foundation Network (COTFONE), Greater, Green Organisation Africa (GOA)-Masindi, Oil Refinery Residents Association (ORRA)-Hoima, Kakindo Orphans Care-Buliisa, Girl Power foundation-Kasese, Friends of Nature-Kasese.

    By Oil in Uganda correspondent, Bunyoro