11 February 2013

East Africa: Oil, Gas Conference Has Made Progress


Regional integration is coming of age. This is thanks to the commitment of the members states coming together and implememting the vison of sustained economic, social and political integration in order to create wealth and bolster development.

Last week duringt the two-day 6th East African Petroleum Conference and Exhibition (EAPCE) held in Arusha, the five partner states of the EAC agreed to cooperate in joint exploration and development of the energy resources found.

Tanzania's Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda, who announced this, said the region had witnessed steady growth in petroleum exploration activities since 2003 when the conference was initiated.

Records show that in 2003, EAC had a total of 58 wells drilled compared to today with 158 and still counting. Uganda had only two wells and now has 64 and more are being discovered.

Now that the bi-annual conference has shifted from discovery of these energy energy sources and shifted to investment, it is now pertinent to find the best and most optimal way for harnessing these resources for the mutual benefit of all East Africans.

The findings of oil and gas in East Africa ought to be celebrated because of the potential in investment, jobs and general development that they can bring to the region.

Pinda is correct and this has been the call many people have been pushing for. The need to come together and harness jobs, technologies, training and also managing the resources effectively.

To begin with, the technologies to handle oil and gas have advanced to the level that these assets can now be handled with relative safety and care.

This means a huge reduction in accidental spills and fires. It also means a higher vigilance in the handling of waste and dangerous substances like gasses and chemicals.

This was recently demonstrated to news editors taken by Uganda's Ministry of energy on a tour to the Albertine Graben, an oil rich swathe of land that covers the entire North West to South Western Uganda.

Administrative and political systems have also developed in the region to the extent that all the stakeholders in the oil and gas industry are fully involved in ensuring the safety of the processing of these resources as well as keenly following up the funds thus received from these ventures.

This way, resources and technologies can be harnessed to ensure these resources are well managed and the benefits well spent.

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