Speech by Hon Irene Muloni, Minister of Energy and Minerals at 1st Convention
She started by saying how excited Uganda and the rest of the world was at the discovery of oil in the country , which is estimated at around 200 billion barrels, this figure representing only about 40% of the area explored. She said that Uganda was striving to ensure that this oil becomes a blessing to the country in the true sense, and will be so only if managed in the most transparent and accountable manner.
Uganda is looking forward to maximizing the proceeds from oil so that infrastructure can be built to help develop Uganda’s economy and move the country to the next level. In the medium term, the Energy and Mineral sector is looking at increasing the electricity generation capacity and the development of the electricity transmission and distribution network. She did not shy away from admitting that Uganda is still experiencing load shedding but assured the audience that the government was looking at exploiting the hydro potential along the Nile to increase the capacity that is paramount to the development of the economy.
It is planned to increase access to modern energy services through rural electrification and renewable energies, as well as to promote and monitor petroleum exploration and development in order to achieve local production, promote mineral investment through the provision of scientific data and capacity building.
She went on to enumerate the current energy development projects and opportunities back home. The first machine of 50 megawatts at the Bujagali dam is expected to come on line soon. The entire Bujagali dam will be commission next year in April, and is expected to produce 250 megawatts. Karuma hydro power project is expected to produce 600MW, Simba to produce around 100 MW and Ayago Power Station about 600MW, which are all at various stages of development. Each stage is offering opportunities to invest in. Transmission network has further opportunities to offer. The Diaspora can also contribute by entering into PPP, through equity, consultancy, construction work and equipment supply.
She stated that 5 out of the 11 exploration areas in the Albertine Graben have been licensed to international oil companies, and asked where the Ugandans were? She explained that many opportunities were presenting themselves as the first smaller refinery would be operative within 3 years, with an expected production increase within 5 years. New flight charters would be needed, as well as insurance services, civil construction for access road, environmental consultancy, provision of ICT services, security services, catering and camping services.
Further opportunities would be available in joint ventures, general works and construction, logistical services, geophysical surveys, refining and pipelines development, future chemical industries and capital for the emerging infrastructure, such as refining and transportation of petroleum commodities and products,
She concluded by saying that investment in the oil industry was priority number one for the Ugandan government and was ensuring any interested party that the whole industry was being managed in the most transparent and accountable manner, and that investors would get a sound return on their investment.
All the prospects look good, but there seems to be an underlying potential for instability and struggles to share the proceeds fairly amongst the population of Uganda.
The major challenge now is with the government putting the oil contracts in the open. If parliament is up to now still fighting tooth and nail to have a review of the contracts, signed years ago, one wonders whether an ordinary Ugandan can really know what was agreed on his behalf, how long it will take him to benefit etc. Transparency in relation to the oil issue, as with all other projects undertaken by the current government of Uganda is far from real. And as a result, it is hard to believe there won't be issues of accountability. I am not afraid to say that Uganda can not expect much good from the oil if it's government still run by ''mafias'', as the former Vice President, Prof. Gilbert Bukenya once referred to them. Men and women wanting in integrity can not be trusted when it comes to matters of transparency, just as when it comes to matters of putting a society's resources to benefit the people. How far has the gold in Karamoja benefited the people of Uganda or the Karamajongs themselves? That can help us determine how far the oil will benefit Ugandans.
Hon. Minister, your speech sounds good, and anyone can hope that things will be as you say, but I never stop challenging government on issues regarding implementation, corruption and out-dealing Ugandans on what would actually be of benefit to them. I find it so disturbing that a whole government would give out 100% of its only means of power production to a foreign company. Can't government own at least a 10% stake in such a crucial sector in the country's economy, something that would guarantee that Ugandans are not cheated as they currently are? UMEME cannot give the best services, at reasonable cost to Ugandans, and the government cannot regulate fuel prices. Even with the discovery, and perhaps actual production of oil in the country, fuel prices are still going up. Hon Min. would you not agree with me that the government you serve is a total disgrace to the Ugandan community? And your ministry a complete failure?
A number of power dams are being constructed/planned for construction along the great Nile, do we really know how much effect this will have on the flow of the Nile waters over say 50,100 or so years, especially with the planned destruction of Mabira forest, which is so crucial to the amount of water that flows in the river?
Besides hydro power, where else is government investing to ensure sustainable and renewable power production? And how far have we gone?
Otherwise, thanks for blessing the convention, and for your efforts to give life to a dead ministry of energy.
I would like to thank the people behind the Ugandan UK Convention and the new Diaspora One Stop shop in Uganda.
I hope you have heard about this Malaysian story. This country Malaysia was categorised as a third world country in late 70's but look at where it is today! Second world, more less a first world country. They did not get out of the third world category through farming or industrialization, it was because of its citizens who returned home from the Diaspora. They returned home with a skill and implemented what they had seen in the Diaspora into their country.
Uganda is not different and by supporting initiatives like this it is never too late we can achieve what other countries are enjoying.
Our hearts and minds are with you that this new chapter bears fruits because I have a lot of believe in our people in the Diaspora. It does not matter, whether somebody worked as a cleaner in the public loo, or sweeping on the streets of London. At least that somebody has built up a skill and ability, either in budgeting, time management, managing people or self. This skill can be transferred back home into something meaningful.
Ugandans although some don’t know you who is behind the initiatives, they value the endeavors and their eyes are now on you to transform their country into Malaysia by using the same approach. Keep it up!!!
Wana Energy Solutions
As a students leader of petroleum geosciences and production, I would like to invite you for a public lecture with us when you feel you have time at makerere university because we have many issues and we are abit not certain on our future. we have tried for long to reach out to you but we have actually failed. thank you