Uganda: Where Candidates Stand On Oil, Gas and Minerals

14 January 2021
opinion

The extractives sector has not featured that prominently in the campaigns for Uganda's 2021 presidential elections.

Seven of the 11 presidential candidates have the two sub-sectors of petroleum and mining in their manifestos and spoke about their plans on the campaign trail. The candidates are incumbent Yoweri Museveni, National Unity Platform's Robert Kyagulanyi, Forum for Democratic Change's Patrick Amuriat and Gregg Mugisha Muntu of the Alliance for National Transformation. Others are independents Henry Tumukunde, Joseph Kabuleta, and Fred Mwesigye.

Museveni's National Resistance Movement manifesto, which is in many ways fused with current government plans and aspirations, lays out the broadest plans for oil and gas and the mineral industries.

However, the manifesto steers clear of the issue of revenue management, which was among those that attracted the highest attention from the opposition candidates.

Three candidates were specific on how they intend to spend the country's oil revenues should they be elected. Muntu's ANT manifesto says oil revenues will be securely put aside or invested as provided in the law, and will be saved for the unborn children.

Mwesigye says, "Instead of investing the petroleum revenue in the sovereign wealth fund, it will be utilized to free Uganda from the external debt burden". Kabuleta says he will use "oil revenues to fast track rural electrification and access to clean energy".

Museveni's manifesto is also silent on the governance and accountability issues that the opposition candidates as well as civil society and parliament have raised in recent years. He focuses more on developing the extractives sector and the economic benefits that will accrue from them.

Most of the candidates agreed on the hot-button issue of compensation of displaced people in natural resource-rich areas.

Here are highlights of the candidates' manifestos on extractives.

Candidate/Party

Oil and gas highlights

Mining highlights

Fred Mwesigye

Use oil revenues to free Uganda from the external debt burden.

Reduce the national debt by allocating the balance of the petroleum revenues not needed in financing a maximum deficit of 3 per cent of the national GDP to external debt principal payment.

Excess funds will either be invested in a sovereign wealth fund or used to finance a maximum fiscal deficit of 3 percent of the non-oil GDP as originally intended.

Gregg Mugisha Muntu (ANT

Champion transparency and accountability in the sector by publishing what Uganda earns and making Production Sharing Agreements public.

Oil revenues will be securely put aside or invested as provided in the law.

Save oil revenues for the unborn children.

Ensure dignified resettlement of all Project Affected Persons (PAPs); PAPs will be resettled in areas of equivalent value.

Speed up pipeline construction by tapping into regional connections.

Protect, preserve and restore the environment in all oil production areas.

Emphasizes exportation of only finished mineral products so as to generate jobs through valued addition processes.

If the minerals can only be processed outside Uganda's borders, ANT will negotiate for fair compensation for Uganda.

Establish national resources infrastructure countrywide where the mineral resources and oil is found to ensure all regional parts of the country get equitable economic development.

Ensure dignified resettlement of all Project Affected Persons (PAPs); PAPs will be resettled in areas of equivalent value.

Protect, preserve and restore the environment in all mining areas.

Henry Tumukunde

Expand the National Supplier Database beyond the Oil and Gas Sector to incorporate cottage industries, micro and small businesses alongside mid-size and large organisations, organized according to the level of compliance they are realistically able to achieve.

Provide regular capacity building training, initiatives and market linkages to compliant members of the National Supplier Database in collaboration with private sector, multilateral organisations and community based organisations.

Prioritize compliant members of the National Supplier Database in public procurement, requiring suppliers / vendors of large public contracts to demonstrate verifiable knowledge and technology transfer to such entities as part of their contract performance criteria.

Joseph Kabuleta

Review the status of oil exploration arrangements to guarantee, for the longest time, that the country's oil will answer most of our energy needs.

Oil revenues to fast-track rural electrification and access to clean energy.

Communities around natural resource areas will be the first line of beneficiaries through job allocation and amenities like roads, schools and hospitals.

Undertake a review of the legal and regulatory framework and the policies to manage the oil resource, to ensure that revenue from oil and minerals is declared and handled transparently.

Ensure that expropriation for the purposes of exploration or mining will be done fairly and affected families given reasonable compensation that will be done in a transparent manner.

Communities around natural resource areas will be the first line of beneficiaries through job allocation and amenities like roads, schools and hospitals.

Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu

Regulate the mining sector to empower mineral-owning communities in protecting their rights. In future, investors shall be required to negotiate with them before commencing operations.

There shall be transparency in licencing, investors' names shall be published and they shall be held accountable for their actions.

Regionally, a percentage of the income from natural resource exploitation shall be allocated to the health and education sectors.

Work with the Mineral Watch Platform to ensure the rights of mining communities are upheld.

Work with Mineral Watch Platform to ensure child labour is not employed in mines.

Patrick Oboi Amuriat

Scrap taxes on Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) to promote transition by an additional 30% of charcoal users to LPG use.

Waive VAT and import tax from Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and import tax from gas cylinders and stoves to promote alternative sources of cooking energy

Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

Compensation and resettlement of PAPs along the land for the refined products pipeline from Hoima to Namwabula in Mpigi will commence once the valuation reports that were submitted to the chief government valuer are approved.

Commence cash compensation and relocation of the affected persons along the EACOP [East African Crude Oil Export Pipeline] corridor from Hoima to Mutukula.

Uganda National Oil Company is to identify a strategic partner for the development and management of Kampala Storage Terminal to be located in Namwabula.

Work with private sector organisations to help manufacturers and other producers identify markets and look for buyers of Ugandanrefined oil and oil by-products.

Continue developing the requisite capacity and skills of staff to ensure that Uganda's interests are maximised.

Work with the Government of Tanzania to develop a natural gas pipeline to Uganda.

Continue geological and geophysical surveys in frontier basins and unexplored parts of the Albertine to prepare the basins for licensing and establishment of additional reserves for the sustainability of the industry.

Undertake basin analysis and resource assessment for the establishment of both conventional and unconventional resources in the country.

Work towards the development of complete science-led industrial value chains of five priority minerals, namely: iron ore, gold, copper/cobalt, phosphates, and building minerals (marble, silica sand and limestone).

Develop the iron and steel value chain that can contribute to the metal fabrication industry of many youth-led enterprises.

Cobalt will contribute to the development of local batteries that can be used in electric cars manufactured by Kiira Motors.

Complete setting up of the modern mineral laboratory in Entebbe.

An analysis of how the media approached the issues shows a mixed bag.

The analysis focused on the three leading dailies, namely, Bukedde, Daily Monitor, and New Vision as well as three television stations --NBS, NTV, and UBC.

Sectors such as health, education, works and transport, agriculture, energy, water and environment, as well as security and defence attracted far more attention in both newspapers and television news than oil, gas, and minerals.

From the start of the campaigns to the end of December the three newspapers published 22 articles (20 news stories, 1 opinion, and 1 profile) on oil, gas, and minerals. They were all focused on the presidential election. The three TV stations published 27 stories in the same period.

Newspapers paid nearly twice as much attention to oil and gas as they did to mining. Attention to the two sub-sectors was almost evenly split on television. Revenue management attracted the biggest attention in both newspaper and television election news on oil and gas as well as mining.

The next biggest issue in newspaper election coverage of extractives was policy and legislation, followed by land acquisition, compensation and resettlement. Issues such as local or national content or participation, institutional management, the environment, production and development, and accountability, attracted little or no attention in newspaper coverage.

Television paid a little more attention to other issues besides revenue management and policy and legislation. These included labour and employment, local or national content, value addition, accountability, negotiations, licensing and contracts, and institutional management.

Most of the media coverage of the oil and gas as well as mining originated from campaign rallies. Only one newspaper story was based on candidates' manifestos. The dominant frame in both newspaper and television election news on the two sub-sectors was economic development and other benefits. Some five newspaper stories also used the conflict frame while two used the governance frame, which also includes oversight and accountability.

Both the newspapers and television stations relied heavily on presidential candidates as the sources in their reporting on the extractives sector. But an equally high proportion of stories on both media platforms gave voice to ordinary people. Civil society representatives were also among the top categories of sources.

Overall, most of the candidates and the media paid scant attention to the issues that have bedevilled Uganda's extractives sector.

a) How should the Public Finance Management Act be improved to enhance oversight on spending of extractives revenues?

b) Why does the date for first oil keep shifting and what could be done to expedite its arrival?

c) Why does dispute resolution in the extractives sector take so long?

d) How could the second licensing round in oil be made better to attract many big industry players?

e) How should funding to the mining sector be enhanced to ensure effective management e.g., stopping smuggling and corruption?

f) How best should Kilembe Copper Mine be revived after the last attempt ended in cancellation of the contract of Hima Tibet, which had won the rights to run it?

g) How will EITI be used to enhance transparency and accountability in the extractives sector?

h) What is the best way to reduce or eliminate constant grievances amongst project affected persons?

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