Earth Finds

Earth Finds

Address Uganda – DRC $10bn Reparations Case Amicably

Last month, February 2018, the timeframe set by the Internal Court of Justice (ICJ) to receive the outcomes of the negotiations between the Ugandan and DRC governments regarding the $10 billion reparations that Uganda owes the DRC elapsed.

The $10 billion reparations that ICJ awarded to the DRC government was in respect of a dispute concerning acts of armed aggression apparently committed by Uganda on the territory of the DRC in 1998.

The DRC government instituted court proceedings against Uganda at the ICJ in June 1999 and the decision that Uganda pays the DRC $ 10 billion was reached in December 2005.

This is not the first time that Uganda and the DRC have failed to hold successful negotiations within the timeframe set by the ICJ. For record following the court decision and award of reparations in 2005, the ICJ gave the Uganda and DRC an opportunity to discuss how to settle the claims. Unfortunately, 10 years later, the two countries had failed to reach a mutual agreement.

The failure prompted the DRC government in July 2015 to file new application to the ICJ requesting court to order Uganda to pay the reparations. In December 2016, the court awarded both parties (Uganda and the DRC) more time for negotiations and fixed February 2018 for Uganda and DRC to submit the outcome of their negotiations. Once again, the negotiations were unsuccessful.

It should be noted that part of the evidence used by the ICJ to make her ruling in December 2005 was contained in the Justice David Porter Commission report, which report Uganda attached as evidence in court. The report confirmed the looting of DRCs natural resources and implicated some top Ugandan government and military officials.

The report confirmed that indeed Uganda engaged in military and paramilitary activities against the DRC by occupying their territory and actively extending military and committing acts of violence against nationals of the DRC.

In addition to killing, injuring and dispossessing them of their property, and by failing to take adequate measures to prevent violations of human rights in the DRC by persons under its control among others.

As a country, we must understand how we ended up in such a mess and how we can get out of it without turning our country into a failed state. Most of the implicated individuals in the Justice David Porter report are known, wealthy and still working in government.

If Uganda is compelled by court to pay the said reparations, as a country and particularly as citizens, paying these reparations will make Uganda poorer and a possible failed state based on our economy with current (GDP of $25.53 billion, 2016). Moreover, over the years Uganda has accumulated an external debt of over $8 billion (over 33% of the GDP).

In addition, it could damage the intergovernmental relations that the two countries have tried to build over the years. For instance if Uganda is compelled to pay the said monies and as a result, the Ugandan economy collapses, Ugandans would blame the DRC government for their misery.

In the same vein, if Uganda refuses to pay the $10 billion reparations, the government and citizens of the DRC would view Uganda with negativity. Furthermore, economists would urge that since the assessment was done in 2005 over 15 years have elapsed, this would attract interest hence limiting any possibilities of Uganda having the capacity to negotiate and pay them. Moreover, this huge debt will be transferred to the over 40 million citizens including Uganda's innocent and unborn children.

On worse case scenery, it could lead to conflict between Uganda and the DRC with the DRC retaliating against Uganda for looting their natural resources and the extrajudicial killings perpetrated against her citizens.

This could result into loss of life, property and would worsen the refugee crisis in the Great Lakes region. In addition, the potential conflict can destabilise the economies of both countries even further.

Therefore, the Ugandan president should open up the negotiations with the DRC government and consider an out of court settlement with respect to sustainability of both economies.

In addition, the president of Uganda should consider constituting a multi-stakeholder committee comprised of representatives from government, the parliament, the judiciary, religious leaders, civil society, cultural leaders and regional bodies to persuade the DRC government to accept feasible terms on the settlement including reducing the costs.

Finally, the findings of the Justice David Porter Commission report should be acted upon and implicated government and UPDF who engaged in wrongful acts in DRC should be prosecuted and demanded to pay the reparation.

By Samuel Okulony
Programmes and Research Coordinator
Africa Institute for Energy Governance
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bunyoro Residents Demand For Empowerment To Benefit From Oil

By Busiinge George

Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom wants citizens to be empowered to understand the existing opportunites in the oil and gas industry. The kingdom officials say the host communities are likely to miss out from the direct benefits of the oil and gas industry due to limited information especially employment and supply demands.

Andrew Byakutaga, the Kingdom Prime Minister explains that although the sector can steer economic and social development in the region, the community needs to be fully empowered on what it entails for them to benefit directly.

Speaking during the 1st quarter update meeting of oil and activates at Kijungu Hill hotel last evening, Byakutaga asked the locals to form partnerships if they are to win tenders to supply goods and services in the oil and gas sector.

According to him, the quality and quantity needed will be too much for an individual local contractor to sustain the supply. He commended oil companies for sponsoring education and sports activities in the kingdom.

Jose Wamala, the Kingdom parliament speaker however challenged oil companies to involve Kingdom chiefs in their activities at lower levels.

Hajji Bruhan Kyakuhaire, the prime minister’s special assistant on culture expressed fear that Banyoro may miss out on the direct benefits due to high technological expertise needed.

Emma Magizi, the senior cooperate Affairs officer at Uganda Petroleum Authority however asked the locals to register their companies with the authority’s data base as a perquisite if they are to compete in the supply chain in the oil and gas.

Sugarcane Farming Accelerating Food Insecurity in Hoima

By Busiinge George

Commercial sugarcane growing is accelerating food insecurity in Kabwoya sub-county Hoima district, the sub-county chairman has observed. The district has started feeling the pinch of plantation agriculture as a result of mushrooming sugar factories which are luring the local population to hire out their arable land to plant sugarcane.

The sub-counties feeling the effects include Kabwoya, Kiziranfumbi, Bugambe, Kitoba, Kyabigambire among others where cases of food insecurity and malnutrition have started to emerge because farmers are hiring out their land at give-away prices.

Steven Buryahika, the LC3 Chairman for Kabwoya observes that although sugarcane growing has increased household income, it does not necessarily increase food adequacy among households as farmers do not have alternative land to cultivate other crops since sugar-cane growing does not support inter-cropping.

Buryahika explains that there are few varieties of food crops cultivated by sugarcane growing households as he advises them to allocate more land for growing food crops as opposed to cash crops as a remedy to food insecurity.

None of the affected sub-county leadership has come up with bi-laws to address the problem of food insecurity. However Buryahika says as a sub-county, they are planning to introduce bi-laws which will prohibit farmers with less than three acres of land from planting sugarcane.

He also faults sugarcane plantation firms of failure to incorporate food security element in their policies to farmers. There are mainly two sugar millers located within Bunyoro which include Kinyara sugar works and Hoima sugar works.

Global Law Firms Look To African Energy Markets

A trio of recent lateral hires indicates that law firms in London are keeping a close eye on African energy and infrastructure opportunities, with US law firms at the vanguard of such interest.

Recent announcements by the London offices of Covington & Burling, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and McCarthy Denning, show that partners with project finance, infrastructure and energy backgrounds are in demand in London’s busy lateral law firm hires market.

That reflects increasing confidence by banks and sovereigns in financing energy developments, the impact of gradually rising oil and gas prices and increasing activity, recently valued at USD 21.2 billion, in oil and gas mergers and acquisitions, alongside increased infrastructure activity associated with gradually increasing confidence in the mining sector.

There is a clear mandate from development banks and African institutions alike to encourage investment in both conventional and renewable energy projects, especially with the prospect of greater investment as a result of China’s Belt and Road infrastructure intensifying around African maritime routes, and London remaining a hub for lawyers working in, and for, the infrastructure industry.


Covington & Burling was the most recent to announce hires, both individuals possessing extensive skills in project finance particularly in the power and renewable energy, transportation, mining, natural resources and water sectors, following last year’s opening of offices in Johannesburg and Dubai.

Robin Mizrahi, a partner, and Laure Berthelot, a special counsel, joined from leading United States energy law firm Baker Botts. Both lawyers advise sponsors, lenders and governments, including state-owned entities, in connection with the development and financing of large projects.

Mizrahi has over two decades of experience in emerging markets, including Africa, and Berthelot’s own experience mirrors her colleague’s, and she is also familiar in dealing with multilateral agencies, developers and both the Anglophone and Francophone sides of Africa. She is both US and United Kingdom-qualified.

Deals the pair had led on in anglophone Africa include the Bujagali hydropower project in Uganda, the most powerful hydroelectric energy source in Uganda at the time of construction and one of the largest power sector project financings in Sub-Saharan Africa, while on the francophone side, they represented Moroccan state-owned enterprise, the Office National de l’Electricité et de l’Eau Potable (ONEE), in connection with the USD 2.6 billion Safi project, a 1320 MW clean-coal-fired independent power plant, as well as the USD 590 million 300 MW Tarfaya wind project, the largest wind project in Africa.

Graham Vinter, chair of Covington’s international project finance practice, said in a statement that the pair’s “particular skills and practice focus, combined with our existing capabilities, will allow us to serve clients in energy and infrastructure projects throughout Africa, including French-speaking countries”.


Also hiring senior staff with African experience, alongside mainstream energy experience gained across a range of emerging markets, is London firm McCarthy Denning, which has appointed two former in-house lawyers, Robin Storey and Stacey Kivel.

Moves in and out of private practice are common in this sector; Vinter was once general counsel of BG Group and McCarthy Denning hired Sam Dunkley from Oil & Gas UK, the UK offshore oil and gas industry’s representative body, last year.

Storey has over 20 years’ in-house experience, including having held the general counsel and company secretary role at several listed small cap exploration and production companies, including Stratic Energy Corporation, Aurelian Oil & Gas, as well as roles at BP and PetroKazakhstan.

He has handled a full range of energy sector areas, including upstream, corporate, restructuring, financing, compliance and disputes, with North African experience, alongside mainstream energy markets such as the Middle East and Russia.

Kivel, meanwhile, has equally long experience in the field, but has greater insights into African-focused oil exploration, having been general counsel to Equator Exploration and Oando, both listed on the London AIM, and Johannesburg and Toronto stock exchanges, respectively.

She has acquired and divested of oil rights in more than 10 African countries, many of which were new to oil and gas exploration, as well as working in Francophone Africa, while also managing disputes and securing litigation funding.

Both lawyers now join a five-strong energy team, which McCarthy Denning co-founder and chief executive Warren Wooldridge described as “energy experts who are respected authorities in the sector and who collectively possess an exceptional depth of experience and knowledge”.


Also on the move, in January, was London-based project finance lawyer Julian Nichol, who took his project finance and transactional energy and natural resources matters practice to Akin Gump from US law firm Bracewell where he headed the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) power group and co-headed the global oil and gas practice.

Nichol’s focus is on the acquisition, disposal, development and project financing of independent power generation projects (IPP) and power transmission and distribution projects.

With Africa an important part of what is a growth region in the power and projects sector, his arrival complements the firm’s existing global practice and broadens the practice’s experience of conventional and renewable energy projects.

His past experience includes acting for developers, funds, lenders and governments, and spans major energy markets in Latin America, Dubai and the wider United Arab Emirates, and London, as well as working with large US oil majors.

Much of his recent work has been in sub-Saharan Africa where he has developed experience in development finance initiative-funded power projects involving the International Finance Corporation (IFC), African Development Bank (AfDB), as well as the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), European Investment Bank (EIB) and many other national bodies.

His recent work includes advising the sponsors on the development and financing of the Kribi and Dibamba IPPs in Cameroon, the country’s first IPP, and advising a major private equity house on the acquisition of a majority stake in the Azura Edo IPP in Nigeria.

Sebastian Rice, partner in charge of Akin Gump’s London office, said: “Broadening the firm’s project finance, power and energy capabilities in London fits perfectly with our strategic objectives in this area.”


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