Baz Waiswa

Baz Waiswa

Uganda Needs More Nuclear Scientists

Uganda and African countries need more scientists trained in the use of nuclear science whose use is growing globally. Nuclear science and technology involves the study and use of nuclear energy which is a clean source of energy and for other purposes such as medical treatment for cancer.

Nuclear power plays an important role in providing large amounts of clean and reliable electricity to support the growing energy needs cheaply.

The Minister of Energy and Mineral Development Eng. Irene Muloni while addressing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Science and Technology said that in view of advancement in nuclear energy applications in terms of technology and quantity, there is need to match the human resources capacity with the infrastructure development.

The conference was held under the theme: ‘Addressing Current and Emerging Development Challenges’ in Vienna, Austria, recently.

“In Africa little is known about the positive contribution of nuclear energy. I  would  like  to  reaffirm Uganda’s  commitment towards strengthening  the  national  infrastructure  for nuclear  safety,  security  and  safeguards,” Eng. Muloni said.

The conference aimed at facilitating high-level dialogue among participants on nuclear science, technology and applications for peaceful uses, and on their delivery to IAEA member states, mainly through the agency's technical cooperation programme, while highlighting their future contribution to sustainable development.

With reference to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development reiterated the inalienable right of state parties to develop research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

PEACEFUL NUCLEAR USE OFFER SOLUTIONS

Eng. Muloni added that global cooperation on the peaceful use of nuclear science and technology over the years has provided solutions to a number of challenges facing humanity in the areas of: - human health, agricultural productivity, water resource management, environmental restoration and energy. The minister commended the agency for the continuous technical assistance to member states to benefit from the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

She applauded the agency for the contribution towards the restoration of radiotherapy services at the Uganda Cancer Institute.

Notably, the application of nuclear science and technology can be used to facilitate the attainment of nine of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals. In light of this the use of nuclear energy to address socio-economic challenges to humanity is on the increase.

During the conference the minister held bilateral discussions with IAEA director general, Yukiya Amano and the director TCAF, division for Africa in the department of Technical Cooperation Shaukat Abdulrazak on enhancing technical cooperation in the expansion of radiotherapy centers, strengthening food safety laboratory, nuclear power infrastructure development and capacity building in nuclear science and technology.

PRODUCING 2,000 MEGAWATTS OF POWER

In the next 10 to 15 years, Uganda plans to produce 2,000 megawatts of power from nuclear power plants. Uganda Vision 2040 identifies inadequate supply of modern energy services as a key bottleneck for sustainable development. Uganda huge deposits of uranium which can be used to fuel nuclear power plants.

South Africa has two nuclear reactors generating 5% of its electricity with plans to increase its use. Over 11% of the world’s electricity today is produced from nuclear energy.

The Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM) on cooperation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy on June 19th 2017 in Moscow.

The document set out a framework for co-operation with a focus on development of nuclear power infrastructure in Uganda and the uses of radioisotopes and radiation technologies, applications in industry, medicine, agriculture and other areas.

The memorandum covered collaboration on human resource education and training, nuclear research centers, nuclear energy among others.

 

Mineral Exploration, Production & Value Addition Key Focus In 2019

The Plan for Uganda participating in the Regional Certification Mechanism for Uganda has been developed for Uganda. The implementation of mineral certification mechanism is underway. This mechanism will enable Uganda trade its minerals at good prices.

President Yoweri Museveni has assented to a key law that will enable the certification of minerals dubbed as the conflict minerals. These are Tin, Tungsten, Tantalite and Gold (3Ts and G).

The presidential assent of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region Bill (ICGLR Bill 2016) will enable Uganda participate in a regional certification mechanism to deal in the minerals. The Bill was passed by Parliament in May 2017 but has been waiting the ascent of Museveni.

A Regional Certification Mechanism (RCM) was developed in 2006 under the ICGLR to tackle the issue of conflict minerals. The RCM requires formalization of the artisanal and small scale miners to enable the tracking and certification of the minerals.

The Regional Initiative against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources (RINR) particularly aims at breaking the link between mineral revenues and rebel financing.

In July 2010 the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was voted by the American Congress and signed by President Barack Obama.

Section 1502 of the act requires companies to disclose whether any of the products manufactured or contracted to be manufactured by the company contains conflict minerals that originate in the Democratic Republic of Congo or any of the 10 adjoining countries including Uganda. It made it difficult to trade in minerals that were not certified to be conflict free.

International regulations require that the 3T and G minerals are certified as conflict free to ensure that proceeds from their sale are not used to fund conflicts and human rights violations.

As part of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region, which was signed by eleven regional Heads of States in Nairobi on December 15th 2006, the Protocol on the Fight against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources outlines the actions that Member States have to take.

 The main objective of the protocol was to ensure that minerals leaving the region complied with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidelines.

OECD (Paris based organisation with membership of developed nations) guidelines provide measures to curb irresponsible sourcing of conflict minerals by consumers in the developed world.

GEOLOGICAL SURVEYS IN UGANDA

The country’s geochemical coverage still remains at 35% while geophysical surveys are at 80%. Eight (8) mineralized areas were discovered against an annual target of 3 and 6 potential Uranium resources targets against an annual target of two (2) in order to stimulate investment in the mining sector.

Government commenced on Uranium exploration in Ndale, Fort Portal and Rusekere volcanic fields (Fort Portal west uranium anomaly) and Rare Earth Elements (REE) exploration at Makutu-Buwaya radiometric anomaly in Eastern Uganda.

Three Hundred Sixty Seven (367) samples were collected and analyzed. Geological studies have confirmed an area of 160km2 in Kibito, Fortportal for further follow-up and detailed studies to establish the Uranium potential in the area.

NEW MINERAL DISCOVERIES

Thirty percent (30%) of the current mineral map of Karamoja has been updated by carrying out ground geological and geochemical surveys. New mineral targets of tourmaline, gold, wolfram, tin, columbite-tantalite, beryl, zinc, cobalt, nickel and chromium and potential of black sands that host heavy metals such as magnetite, ilmenite and rutile have been discovered from geological mapping and geochemical surveys done.

More minerals are anticipated to be discovered after the planned airborne surveys have been carried out in the region followed by carrying out geological mapping, geochemical surveys and ground geophysical surveys.

 MINERAL EXPLORATION

Government is making follow up on mineral targets for mining and industrial development. The projects are being promoted for both public and private partnership (PPP). The projects include those of: i) iron ore; ii) nickel-platinum group metals (PGMs); iii) nickel-copper-lead; and iv) Busia gold bearing zone.

 Sukulu Phosphate and Steel Project: M/S Guangzhou Dongsong Energy Group Co. Ltd is to develop the Sukulu phosphate resource into phosphates, steel, glass, cement and brick products.

The company has so far constructed buildings to house staff and workers plus putting in place an administration block and a dining hall. The company has also carried out geotechnical site investigations and established the type of soils where the plant is to be set up.

Earthworks and grading of the site are now underway and pre-fabricated plant machinery for the first phase has arrived in the country. All plants, including the steel mill, are expected to be in operation by December 2019.

So far, over 150 skilled Ugandan workers have been employed, and the number is expected to rise to over 1,000 by December 2019 when the plant is fully operational.

 IRON ORE DISCOVERIES

A follow-up on targets that were identified by airborne geophysical surveys. The ground geological and geochemical mapping that were conducted resulted into new discoveries of iron ore resources in Nyakarambi, Kitunga, Kashambya Kitojo, Kobutare, Katagata in Rukiga  District. The study has confirmed the Iron Ore Resources in the Rutenga Magnetic anomaly.

Government stopped all illegal mining activities in Mubende District and a Mineral Protection Police Unit was put in place to curb any further illegal mining in the country.

In line with the new mineral policy and mining legislation, the Ministry in collaboration with the National Identification Registration Authority (NIRA) will biometrically register all artisanal and small scale miners (ASMs) in the country.

MINING CADASTRE AND REGISTRY SYSTEM

The Sub-sector is upgrading its Mining Cadastre and Registry System (MCRS) to an e-government based mineral licensing system for a three-year period.

In preparation for the transition from a paper-based to an online system, the Subsector in collaboration with NITA-U is now hosting the cadaster system in the cloud, and is in the process of securing an MoU with URA to develop an online payment transaction portal.

 REVIEW OF THE MINING REGULATIONS, 2004

The Subsector is reviewing the Mining Regulations, 2004 to effect the transition to an online system. The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (the implementation of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region) Bill No.16 was assented. The ICGLR Act, 2017 is being implemented by the Ministry towards issuance of the first certificate for certified designated minerals from Uganda.

The Sub-sector has trained inspectors and developed inspection manual, inspection template, export procedure and is now developing regulations to enforce the Act. The Sub-sector monitored and inspected mining activities in the country to promote the application of environmentally friendly technologies and methods in mineral exploitation, and ensure adherence to health and safety regulations.

MINERAL RIGHTS (LICENCES)

A total of 716 Mineral Rights (licences) were issued to promote mining investment. The Ministry also provided extension services and carried out awareness campaigns targeting small-scale miners through their associations so as to legalize their operations.

Geo-scientific data management: The Sub-sector acquired and managed geo-scientific data for strategic minerals i.e. uranium, gold, base metals, iron ore and wolfram.

The Sub-sector monitored earthquakes using its installed Uganda seismic network to acquire data useful in monitoring of earthquake hazards. Geo-hazards investigation surveys for ground failures and landslides were conducted in Mt Elgon area.

MINERAL LABORATORIES

The Sub-sector is up-grading the mineral laboratories to become the main analytical and beneficiation centre. Equipment and consumables for the laboratories have been procured and maintenance carried out. The up-graded laboratory will provide a capacity to analyze materials for geological, hydrological and environmental studies.

Judge To Expedite Delayed Kyakaboga Refinery PAPs Case

The preparation for production of the country’s oil and gas has not been a bed of roses for some families in the albertine graben region – many have been left scared, hurting and homeless. Attempts to seek redress in courts of law have not provided a quick fix. 

When government acquired over 29 sq. km of land for Uganda’s proposed refinery beginning in 2012, tens of homes had to give up their land, culture and way of life to allow the project take off. Government promised to compensate them sufficiently to restore them to their normal homely setting.

While government has done a great deal compensating the refinery project affected people, especially those who chose for cash compensation, some of the project affected persons (PAPs) who chose resettlement have not received their worth, many of them chose to go to court. And for a long time they have been praying that court serves them justice – just not yet though.

But if anything from their latest appearance at Kampala High Court, on March 4, 2019, where the matter is being heard by Lady Justice Cornelia Sabitti, their fate has a few months to be known. In an attempt to expedite the hearing, the judge has offered ‘to visit the refinery-affected people’s settlement in Kyakaboga, Hoima district in an attempt to understand the matter better.

The judge’s decision follows a submission of evidence by all the refinery-affected people, Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), the civil society organization helping the PAPs get justice said in a press statement

AFIEGO said the judge’s decision came after Mr. John Bosco Wandera, who is one of the plaintiffs in the case in which the refinery-affected people accuse government of under-compensating and delaying to compensate them, submitted his evidence.

During the case hearing that took place on March 4, 2019 at the Kampala High Court, Mr. Wandera told the judge that he had two pieces of land in the refinery area in Kabaale-Buseruka, Hoima prior to government’s land acquisition. When asked to leave, Mr. Wandera opted for physical relocation for one of his pieces of land and asked for cash compensation for the other.

Mr. Wandera told the judge that he was displeased with government’s decision to construct for the refinery-affected people houses in a camp-like settlement. “I was a member of the resettlement committee and in 2014, Ministry of Energy took us to Kyakaboga to see the land it said it wanted to buy.

The land was rejected by both the committee and the refinery-affected people because families wanted to be bought for land on a case-by-case basis as committed to by Ministry of Energy in the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) report of 2012.

The committee and the refinery-affected people told Ministry of Energy that the camp-settlement in Kyakaboga would not allow people to engage in farming. It would also breed poor sanitation and result in tension with neighbours,” Mr. Wandera said.

ABADONMENT OF KYAKABOGA HOUSES

In October last year, some residents living in Kyakaboga resettlement area, Buseruka sub-county in Hoima district, started abandoning their three-roomed houses constructed by government.

Government constructed 46 houses for families who opted for resettlement to pave way for the proposed oil refinery in Kabaale parish, Buseruka sub-county, Hoima.

But the residents started leaving and constructed temporal houses in the neighboring village. Mr. Innocent Tumwebaze, the chairperson of the affected residents reported that over eight families had abandoned the newly constructed houses due to sanitation related issues.

Mr. Julius Ochokdhogu, a father of five children told Earthfinds last year that he decided to shift into a new home because of the limited house capacity to accommodate his family. He says the house requires high sanitation standards yet there is limited water access, no lights among other issues.

Mr. Geoffrey Komakech, the area district councilor who is also the district secretary for production and natural resources says they are to write to the energy ministry to seek for redress of the community concerns.

The uncontended PAPs continue to express displeasure over what government offer upto today. “Kyakaboga smells because 46 pit latrines, houses and kitchens are built in the squeezed settlement. The latrines are very close to the kitchen and the houses making the settlement unhygienic. I abandoned my house because of the situation in Kyakaboga,” Mr. Wandera told the judge early this month.

He also told court that his children had fallen sick because Kyakaboga is unhygienic. Mr. Wandera asked the judge to visit Kyakaboga and assess its situation. The judge said she could visit after hearing all the evidence.

During the case hearing, Mr. Wandera also informed the judge that because of the cut-off date of June 2, 2012, he was unable to re-build his house in Kabaale-Buseruka when it fell in 2014.  This is because the cut-off date stopped him and other refinery-affected families from undertaking developments on the affected land.

The judge made the decision to expedite the hearing because the refinery-affected people travel from Hoima, Kiryandongo and other districts to Kampala for every hearing of the case. This is expensive, time-consuming and cumbersome especially on women and the poor. The judge fixed the next hearings in June 2019.

Solar Sector Must Overcome Quality Problems

The use of solar in Uganda is increasing, moving on from being only a source for lighting to other uses like powering agribusiness and other alternative uses, Mr. Amos Tamusuza, the acting Principal Energy Officer at Ministry Of Energy And Mineral Development (MEMD) told a media training in Kampala.

The growth in solar consumption is however being slowed and challenged by the rampant existence of fake solar products on the market. Mr. Tamusuza noted that because of fake and poor quality products sold to unsuspecting customers, many people say solar technology doesn’t work.

The integrity of persons dealing in solar products is also lacking. This, he said hampers solar uptake. He revealed that renewable energy mix on the national grid was expected to grow from 4 percent to 60 percent but has only managed to grow to 40 percent.

Association To Address Poor Standards

The other challenge has been insufficient awareness and promotion of solar across the country. This has left consumers of solar ignorant and cheated by rogue traders. To address these problems, the ministry facilitated the formation an association that would bring all traders dealing in solar energy.

“We found out that if we are a well-organized body, we can build a vibrant sector. We had to bring these people together,” Mr. Tamusuza stated. And with that in mind, Uganda Solar Energy Association (USEA) was born – to help the ministry in positioning solar energy first.

“Solar was expensive but now the prices are coming down but we feel the costs are still higher. It has become more affordable and usage of solar has increased especially in rural areas. We are happy for that. Companies are enabling customers to pay in instalments but we still have quality problems. The integrity of dealers is lacking,” Mr. Tamusuza narrated.

To fight poor quality products on the market, Mr. Tamusuza is of the view that for anybody to get a licence from the energy minister to sell solar products must be a member of the Uganda Solar Energy Association. This way, the association can monitor the quality members are putting on the market through adhering to an ethical code of conduct that must be followed.

 

The association is also working with several partners including United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), USAID, UKAID, World Bank and government of Uganda to deepen solar uptake.

Access To Clean Energy Still Hard

Mr. Julius Magala, the Energy Access Coordinator, Clean Start Programme (UNCDF) who opened the media training session, applauded USEA for the initiative and its role in promoting the use of clean energy among Ugandans.

“Access to clean energy remains a challenge for many communities in Uganda and hinders economic development. It’s therefore important that USEA and the media work together to help address the bottlenecks that people face in accessing quality clean energy solutions, if Uganda is to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” he said.

“UNCDF is committed to working with USEA to help improve the lives of many Ugandans by promoting and investing in initiatives that promote access and the use of clean energy,” Magala added.

According to a study on the use and Viability of Solar Energy in Uganda by the National Association of Professional Environmentalists, 88% of Ugandans use kerosene for lighting and 79% use firewood for cooking while only 1% use solar energy for the two purposes. The heavy reliance on biomass by the country as a source of energy in day to day life puts the country at risk of environmental degradation and climate change.

Solar Provides Cheap Alternative

Ms. Joyce Nkuyahaga, the Chief Executive Officer of USEA, mentioned that solar provides an alternative source of power especially in rural areas. The main source of power in Uganda is hydroelectricity which has not covered the main parts of rural areas and remains largely expensive. An increase in power tariffs on the national grid to Shs718.9 per kwh made electricity inaccessible.

In the earlier days of solar entering onto the Ugandan market, it was considered expensive but like Mr. Tamusuza and Ms. Nkuyahaga noted, this is changing for the better. Ms. Nkuyahaga reveals that now you can get a solar package of 4 solar lamps, a radio, phone charging at Shs500, 000 with a three year warranty and can last for over ten years. It doesn’t come with monthly tariffs, all you do is put it in the sun for natural recharging.

She further revealed that 500, 000 households have been covered by solar in the past six years while UMEME, the company that distributes electricity on behalf og government has reached only reached 1.3million connections.

And with improvement in solar technology, solar performance has also improved. Consumers are finding alternative uses of solar because increased capacities and efficiency. Today many people are using solar for irrigation and industry use.

At Power Trust Uganda, they are selling a solar milling machine. Such innovations are set to help rural areas where there is no electricity to add value to their farm produce.

Mr. Paul Jack Kulosi, the business development manager at Power Trust said with the solar milling machine one can add value to 800 kilograms of maize that way one can produce food for home use and also get animal feeds.

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