International groups and Ugandan civil society activists have expressed disappointment with a long awaited Natural Resources Committee report that was finally tabled in parliament last Thursday.
For the last seven months the committee has held extensive public and private consultations on two petroleum bills to regulate the development of Uganda’s oil industry. The draft bills, prepared by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, were strongly criticised by civic groups for giving too much power to the Minister responsible for oil, with relatively little parliamentary oversight.
The committee’s report, a copy of which Oil in Uganda has seen, does not propose to trim the powers of the Minister, however. It recommends the introduction of several clauses to ensure the involvement of parliament and cabinet in decision making processes, but the minister still remains supreme. Read More
In a fifth report from Ghana, Oil in Uganda staff writer, Chris Musiime, describes the country’s efforts to institutionalise transparency in the handling of revenues from oil and mining industries.
Mismanagement of revenues from the extraction of natural resources is widely cited as a major factor leading to the much-feared “resource curse”—the paradox that countries with an abundance of natural resources tend to have slower economic growth and, in many cases, more instability, than their less endowed counterparts.
To avoid this, Ghana joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in 2003, as a way of tracking revenues from its minerals trade, eventually extending the practice to the oil and gas industry in 2010. Read More
FORT PORTAL: Inside a colonial style bungalow, partitioned into several rooms, the largest space is devoted to rows of shelves containing books, magazines and leaflets on petroleum. The library, its staff say, receives about 20 visits a day from people seeking information on Uganda’s newly discovered oil to know what is happening in the oil sector and how to benefit.
This is the initiative of the Kabarole Research and Resource Centre (KRRC), based in Fort Portal, which has set out to sensitize the people in the Ruwenzori sub-region about Uganda’s newly discovered oil, so they will know how to benefit from the petro dollars while also holding their leaders accountable in use of public resources.
The centre serves the six districts of Kabarole, Kasese, Bundibugyo, Ntoroko, Kyenjojo, Kamwenge and Kyegegwa, which have a joint population of around 2.5 million people. Read More
Uganda plans to create a Petroleum Authority to regulate the oil industry and a National Oil Company to partner with international oil companies in extracting and marketing the resources. In a second report from Ghana, Oil in Uganda staff writer, Chris Musiime, describes the role and evolution of similar institutions in that country. Whilst at first sight Ghana appears to have followed a ‘fast track’ from oil discovery to oil production, this report shows that in fact the country has a long history both of oil exploration and of efforts to develop an institutional framework to manage the industry. 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
“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
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
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
Uganda should lose no time in signing up to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which requires companies and governments publicly to disclose oil and mining payments and revenues, former UK Secretary of State for International Development, Clare Short, told a group of journalists and civil society organisation leaders in Kampala yesterday.
“Nothing is stopping Uganda from acting now,” said Ms. Short, who has served as Chair of EITI’s Board of Directors since 2011. “You could start tomorrow. It’s always good to start before oil starts flowing, because then you’ve got transparency from the start.” Read More