28 April 2017

Uganda: Oil - President Obiang Tells Uganda to Be Careful

Photo: Stephen Wandera/Daily Monitor
Uganda President Yoweri Museveni (R) welcomes President of Equatorial Guinea Mr Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo at State House to inspect a parade Wednesday April 26, 2017.

Kampala — Uganda is looking to tap into Equatorial Guinea's experience of oil production, in order to build its own capacity before oil production starts.

Speaking at the Joint Oil and Gas Convention and Regional Logistics Expo at the Kampala Serena Hotel, on Thursday, country's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who wrapped up his visit to Uganda shorty after speaking at the conference, said they had agreed with President Museveni of Uganda on areas of corporations especially in the petroleum sector.

Equatorial Guinea which produces 300,000 barrels per day has been an oil producing country for the last 20 years.

"This visit has actually enabled us to identify a number of important areas for economic cooperation for the two countries, such as those areas where we have been able to sign accords like the petroleum and gas sectors," President Obiang said.

The details of this partnership are still not yet known but the Uganda government is keen on picking lessons from countries that are involved in oil production.

During bilateral talks between heads of state of the two countries on Wednesday night, Uganda's Energy Minister, Ms Irene Muloni signed an MoU for cooperation in oil and gas with Equatorial Guinea's minister Obiang Lima.

Mr Nguema said as Uganda proceeded with production cycle, there were important issues the country needed to address in order to maximise benefits.

He said the country needed to participate in the production process, deliver local content laws that protect nationals and also support refining of oil products.

"The issue of catering for example, like the supply of food and feeding the oil operators, this is something that local companies can carry out very well. It is not expected that foreign companies will be the ones carrying out this kind of business in your country," he added.

Equatorial Guinea has not in the last 20 years built an oil refinery. Since 2010, the country has been planning for an oil refinery but the economics involved are still considered risky.

Uganda is planning to build a 60,000 barrels per day oil refinery in Kabaale, Hoima District. Sourcing for the investor has proved futile as the viability of the project continues to be questioned.

President Obiang also warned that Uganda needs to be on the lookout for those looking to derail on the dreams of oil production.

President Museveni, on the other hand, emphasised that Uganda was in "fast-track mode" to have oil production start by 2020.

He also praised President Obiang for the resource management in the Equatorial Guinea which he says has transformed the country into a model economy after taking over an economy in disarray in 1979.

"H.E Obiang is a great pan-Africanist and has led his country from a state of devastation to one of the Worlds' fastest growing economies... Under his able leadership, Equatorial Guinea has transformed into a model economy with modern infrastructure. 90 percent of the country has now been electrified and significant investments have been made into basic services and education. Most of this tremendous transformation in EG has been made possible from the utilization of the oil and gas resources properly," President Museveni said.

Uganda is expected to start oil production that will peak at about 80,000 barrels per day. Equatorial Guinea's production is estimated at 300,000 barrels per day, with 90 percent of that exported. It has a population of about 1.2m people compared to Uganda's 35 million people.

President's Nguema's advice to Uganda, however attracted scorn, especially on social media platforms, with several commentators saying given Equatorial Guinea's experience in managing its natural resources, he should be the last person to offer advice to Uganda.

According to the New York-based Natural Resources Governance Institute, that monitors transparency in extractives, the country is the third-largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa, supplying 304,000 barrels a day but its oil revenues are mostly misused.

According to the IMF, Equatorial Guinea boasts the highest level of per capita income in all sub-Saharan Africa, at $22,300 per year about the same as Portugal but more three-quarters of the population live below the poverty line.

President Nguema, is ranked currently as the longest serving non-traditional leader in the world with 37 years under his belt. He is followed by Angola's Jose Eduardo dos Santos with 36 years but announced plans to step down this October, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe (36 years), Cameroon's Paul Biya (33 years), Uganda's President Museveni (31 years), and Sudan's Omar Bashir (27 years).

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