How Domestic Gas Production Can Help Mitigate South Africa's Energy Crisis

South Africa is facing an energy crisis on a very large scale. It's not for nothing that President Cyril Ramaphosa took the unprecedented step of declaring a "national disaster" in February.

The country's fuel and energy sector is truly in trouble, with power shortages and blackouts worse than ever before.

There are some hopes for relief, including efforts to find new sources of fuel for thermal power plants (TPPs).

On the one hand, South Africa possesses large offshore natural gas reserves in the Outeniqua basin and may be able to find more in its section of the Orange basin and elsewhere.

On the other hand, it shares borders with other two future gas producers – Namibia and Mozambique, both of which have sizeable reserves and smaller populations than South Africa – that may be willing to export some of their bounty under the right conditions.

Nevertheless, these solutions are still some distance away, given that it will take years to bring gas from these large-scale projects to market.

In the meantime, South Africa should not lose sight of the fact that it has other solutions at hand.

It is true that the solutions I'm talking about are considerably smaller in scale and humbler in nature than the massive projects I've already mentioned.

They don't target new deepwater frontier basins, and they won't require multi-billion-dollar investments. But they do have the potential to offer crucial support to Africa's second-largest economy at a time of severe crisis.

I'd like to talk about two companies that are in a position to offer this kind of support.

Kinetiko Energy: Onshore Gas Supplies to Local Power Stations

One of them is Kinetiko Energy, an Australian company that is working to develop conventional gas reserves in southern Africa. Its primary focus is the Amersfoort-to-Volksrustregion, which focuses on a large gas deposit in the Mpumalanga province, southeast of Johannesburg.

Kinetiko is still working to determine exactly how much gas its licenses contain, but it is optimistic in light of the fact that the area has long been known to hold very high-quality methane in shallow sediments and coal-beds, and it has estimated its 2C resource at 4.9 trillion cubic feet (138.8bn cubic meters).

On January 30, 2023, the company issued a statement extolling the "record breaking" results achieved from a new core well, 271-23C, during logging and core-sample testing after the completion of a three-well drilling program.

The statement included some insights into the well's geology, but it also quoted Kinetiko CEO Nick de Blocq as saying that 271-23C was in a favorable geographic location.

Specifically, he drew attention to the well's position in Block ER271, close enough to the Majuba TPP to represent a field which could supply it with gas in addition to coal, its usual fuel.

Meanwhile, de Blocq also drew attention to 270-03C and 270-06C, the other wells drilled during the three-well drilling campaign.

He pointed out that the Lily Pipeline runs through all of Kinetiko's current blocks, including Block ER270.

This is South Africa's largest gas conduit, which transports gas from Sasol's Secunda plant to coastal cities and to industrial consumers in the KwaZulu Natal region.

 "The proximate location of our southernmost boreholes in ER270 to the steel-smelting and manufacturing centre of Newcastle could mean a simplified logistical solution to get the gas to an increasingly hungry thermal industry market," he stated.

Of course, it is true that Kinetiko is still working to finalize its plans. It has yet to determine exactly when it can begin commercial production, having started the activities required to evolve their Exploration Right into a Production Right, and it is busy negotiating with midstream players who bring downstream offtakers and financing.

But it is optimistic about its ability to launch small-scale development quickly — and about its ability to make a local power-generating entity one of its very first clients.

This is the sort of initiative and drive that has the potential to benefit South Africans greatly on a local level while larger-scale solutions come together, and I hope to see more of it.

Creative Ideas and Environmental Considerations

Indeed, if South Africa was willing to take steps to open up more of the onshore basins that might hold gas — such as the Karoo basin— it would be giving investors a signal that it was ready to entertain new solutions to a problem that has persisted for far too long.

Of course, when I call for new solutions, I don't mean it's time to give free rein to polluters and forget about environmental concerns entirely.

If South Africa is going to develop an onshore gas industry, the government ought to be making plans to develop the regulatory regime accordingly, and investors ought to be keeping environmental concerns front and center as well.

But there's good news: Some of them are already doing so.

Renergen: Demand for Gas Beyond Power Generation

And that brings me to my second example: Renergen, the native South African company that is carrying out the Virginia gas project.

Renergen has been working to develop three conventional gas fields in Free State – Theunissen, Virginia, and Welkom, which are collectively estimated to hold nearly 407 billion cubic feet (11.53 million cubic meters) of conventional natural gas in proved and probable (2P) reserves.

It is keen to monetize these fields because they contain relatively high levels of helium — a commodity that is both valuable and rare — as well as gas.

As such, it has worked to transform its initial compressed natural gas (CNG) initiative into a larger-scale and considerably more ambitious liquefied natural gas (LNG) project.

In September of last year, Renergen started up its onshore gas liquefaction plant, becoming South Africa's very first producer of LNG.

The company touted its environmental credentials in a Twitter post announcing the launch, noting that the plant's output would help reduce the country's carbon footprint by making a new type of fuel with lower emissions intensity than diesel available for trucking and other commercial uses.

It was referring to a deal signed in the summer of 2020 with Total South Africa, a subsidiary of the French major TotalEnergies, on joint marketing and distribution of LNG.

Under that deal, Renergen agreed to deliver some of the LNG from the first phase of its plant to Total-branded filling stations along the N3 road, a major highway connecting Durban and Johannesburg, for sale as a long-haul trucking fuel.

It also pledged to make more LNG available for distribution and sale via Total stations along other key highways once the second phase of its plant came online, saying that expanding the use of LNG in the road freight sector would help curb the rise in carbon emissions.

But Renergen has not confined its efforts to transport. It has also targeted industrial customers, and in August 2021 it signed a five-year supply agreement with Ardagh Glass Packing (previously known as Consol Glass), a supplier of glass packaging materials based in Johannesburg.

Then in February 2022, it followed that with another five-year deal — this time, with Ceramic Industries Group, based in Vereeniging.

Both Ardagh and Ceramic Industries are subsidiaries of Italtile, based in Cape Town; Ardagh has said it intends to use the LNG to replace liquid petroleum gas (LPG) at its Belville operation in the Western Cape area, while Ceramic Industries will use LNG to supplement the gas supplies it receives via pipeline.

Renergen made its very first shipment of LNG to Ardagh's Belville site in December 2022 after setting up turn-key delivery facilities per the terms of its contract.

At that time, the company said it had received expressions of interest in its LNG from multiple South African businesses, including independent power producers (IPPs), large-scale industrial manufacturers, and heavy logistics operators.

It did not name any potential new clients, and since then, its efforts to drum up new business may have been overshadowed by the escalating energy crisis.

Nevertheless, Renergen's efforts to establish a foothold in the industrial and transport sectors are important. They demonstrate that there is ample room for natural gas in South Africa – that there are opportunities for gasification in the country that are not confined to the power-generating sector.

Yes, South Africa urgently needs gas to help resolve its energy emergency. Gas will help South Africa find ways to produce the additional electricity it needs to provide all of its citizens with reliable and secure power — both in the longer run as new offshore fields come online and in the shorter term as companies such as Kinetiko and Renergen develop onshore resources.

But South Africa could also use gas for other purposes. It could use gas as a substitute for diesel in long-haul trucking — and thereby reduce emissions in the transport sector.

It could introduce LNG as a fuel for industrial customers — and thereby reduce emissions in that part of the economy, while also reducing the drain on the national transmission grid.

It could create markets that can be sustained and made profitable even beyond the time when (I hope) the current crisis will be nothing but a memory.

So let's give South Africa's smaller-scale gas producers a chance to grow.

Understanding South Africa's Energy Crisis

By NJ Ayuk

Witnessing the far-reaching effects of South Africa's continuing power cuts has been tremendously disheartening.

The frequent and extended power outages taking place have left businesses in Africa's most industrialized country struggling to function. Manufacturing is suffering. The national economy is taking a hit.

The prolonged darkness is emboldening thieves and pushing crime rates up. And as state-owned utility Eskom spends increasingly more on what are ultimately unsuccessful efforts to fix the problem, its operational costs are surging.

Those costs are being passed along to consumers and businesses in the form of power price hikes, placing additional burdens on them.

I don't believe President Cyril Ramaphosa was overreacting last month when, in response to the outages — by then leaving people in the dark six to 10 hours a day — he declared a national state of disaster.

This freed emergency funding and gave the government additional powers, including streamlined procurement processes. I agree with the grave concerns he shared during his State of the Nation address in February.

"We are in the grip of a profound energy crisis," Ramaphosa said. "The crisis has progressively evolved to affect every part of society. We must act to lessen the impact of the crisis on farmers, on small businesses, on our water infrastructure and our transport network."

This crisis, explored in depth in our soon-to-be-released report, The State of South African Energy, is hardly a new problem.

But the alarming frequency and length of South Africa's periods without power have created an untenable situation that, as the president said, is putting the country's well-being at risk.

Bleak Situation

At the root of South Africa's energy crisis are the country's coal-fired power plants, which are responsible for generating about 95% of the country's electricity. These facilities are old, over-used, and constantly breaking down.

To make sure the country's struggling plants aren't overwhelmed to the point that they trigger a total shutdown of the grid, it has become common practice at Eskom to implement deliberate power shutdowns, also known as rolling blackouts or load-shedding, several times a day.

South Africa's outages have set records for the past three years. In 2020, they reached a new high of 859 hours. That number rose to 1,169 hours in 2021. But 2022's record far exceeded anything seen up to then: 205 days of rolling blackouts.

Last October, the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) made "load-shedding" the 2022 South African Word of the Year.

"It should come as no surprise to many South Africans that load-shedding has been the most used word/term in South Africa as the dreaded rolling blackouts instituted by Eskom have largely defined our lived experience in 2022," PanSALB CEO Lance Schultz said at the time.

Failed Fixes

Also frustrating is the costly and unsuccessful saga of attempting to resolve this issue. About 15 years ago, South Africa began construction on two coal-fired plants, Medupi and Kusile, to increase the country's power-generation capacity.

That has not worked out according to plan. Today, the plants are only operating at half of their combined 9600 megawatts (MW) capacity because of breakdowns, technical defects, completion delays, and accidents. And despite the plants' inoperability, the project costs have been enormous, reaching a combined total of R300 billion by 2019.

Even with the hefty tariff increases imposed on customers, the company is struggling to keep up with its costs.

And last September, Ramaphosa announced that completing the two power stations will cost another R33 billion.

Distressing Repercussions

Then there are the costs of South Africa's continuing power struggles. I mentioned some of the negative repercussions on business, crime, and electricity tariffs. But that's only part of the story: Every outage has a devastating ripple effect that puts people at risk.

In South Africa, outages are causing food to rot, and they're increasing the risk of widespread food insecurity. Every day, load-shedding impedes farmers' ability to keep crops watered (pump stations that rely on electricity don't operate) and livestock alive (one farm, for example, lost 50,000 broiler chickens when the ventilation system failed).

The outages impact hospitals and healthcare for the disabled and elderly. People who rely on electricity for medical equipment, like oxygen machines, are being put in life-threatening situations.

Our report provides another troubling detail: the outages' cumulative effect on what South Africa could have achieved. Since 2007, load-shedding has cost South Africa a staggering R1.5 billion – R2.4 billion per day.

The result: Every year since 2007, 1-1.3% of the country's GDP has been shaved away. That means that without load shedding, South Africa's economy could have been about 17% larger than it is now.

I know there is little that can be done about what could have been, but I hope that confronting these painful truths galvanizes South Africa's leadership to put the country on a new path, one where the country begins realizing its full potential.

NJ Ayuk, the Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber 

South Africa's energy challenges will be front and center at African Energy Week scheduled to take place on 16-20 October in Cape Town.

What Water Ministry Needs To Do To Reap From Water Week Commemoration

By Paul Kato

As Uganda is concluding the celebrations of this year’s Water Week under the theme Water and Environment for Climate Resilience Development, a lot needs to be done to achieve the set goals of combating climate change. 

Uganda continues to grapple with floods, prolonged drought and change of seasons among others.

The Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) has been trying to ensure that critical ecosystems such as forests, water bodies, wetlands and others are protected from human activities such as deforestation, mining, agriculture and others. 

Sensitive biodiversity zones are still under pressure from local communities, investors and rich businessmen carrying out agriculture activities and mining.  

However, to overcome the human activities that contribute to the destruction of protected areas, MWE and other sister agencies need to work with the parliament to review and operationalize environmental laws.

The ministry also has to increase 

environmental budget allocation for running the ministry’s work, stop all oil activities and other oil-related activities in protected areas like national parks, water bodies, wetlands and forests. 

Also, the ministry must increase investments in the renewable energy sector, especially solar which is reliable, affordable and clean and ensure that there is increased access and participation of women in clean energy because they are vulnerable to the climate crisis.

In addition to that, the ministry and the sister agencies need also to sensitize local communities about the relevance of conserving the environment and empower women and the youth to partake in eco-friendly activities.

These eco-friendly activities may include fish rearing, beekeeping and growing fruit trees, training the local communities the good methods of farming and cancelling all the land titles that were issued in the wetlands.

The above solutions will help to increase the efforts of environmental conservation, mitigate the climate change that Uganda is grappling with and reduce environmental cases caused by encroachers in the country.

Therefore, I call upon the Ministry of Water and Environment and other sister agencies to work together to ensure that the above environmental conservation measures are implemented. 


Paul Kato is a Research Associate and Environmental Activist.

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Put Oil Host Communities At Centre Of Uganda’s Oil & Gas Management

By Cirrus Kabaale

Over the past years, oil developments activities have gained momentum at different levels of; commissioning of oil rigs, exploitation, legal and institution frameworks. The outcomes of exploitation and prospects are highly suggestively that oil and the prospects of Uganda joining oil producing countries is, but a reality. The first barrel of oil is over the horizon.

Oil has attracted different players with varying interests and notable among these are the international oil companies and finance institutions who are already making a kill. The companies operating in Uganda include TotalEnergies and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). Interestingly, the host communities who are key stakeholders are increasingly becoming passive participants in the unfolding oil bonanza. Community participation and involvement is, but lost in the scramble for oil in the Albertine region.

Participatory resource management is a catchphrase today, synonymous with sound, balanced and efficacious environmental conservation and sustainable development. Citizen participation, as it is widely known, is a major benchmark of the democratisation process spreading duly to embrace social action, social problem solving and all other social processes and units.

The basic assumption is that the empowerment of the individuals, at the grassroots, and communities especially in relation to their immediate environment and the intimate details of their everyday life lies at the root of sound democratic practices, the functioning of the democratic systems. Resource conservation must inter-marry with democracy in order to be wholesome and meaningful.

In other words, participatory resource management as is well known, it is a well-entrenched core principle in social action and social practice these days. It is a binding principle and requirement. It is an absolute requirement and obligation. Without it, we would have completely overlooked the cardinal criteria of equity. And without it resource development ventures by investors and governments would ever more continue to appear as raids on what is people’s own resource because the people invariably depend on these resources for their survival.

Similarly, the exploitation of one resource tends to cut off other livelihoods such as oil developments versus fishing on Lake Albert. The key principles in resource management venture today are equity, priority and implementation. Citizen participation is benchmark of equity. It is also key criteria in implementation today since without it a resource extraction venture that has effectively excluded citizen participation today are tainted products. They are warped and questionable.

However, there are fears that the oil companies and government has not extensively consulted the community, and thus that oil resources may not be used to adequately respond to the unique needs of that community. In this case the people feel that oil may present skewed opportunities and risks where only persons in positions of influence and power stand to benefit at the expense of the poor and marginalized.

This feeling of marginalisation is exacerbated by what the community call a sense of secrecy that surrounds the oil-related activities in the region.

Following the recent community meetings organized by Environment Governance Institute (EGI) with residents of the Kyakapere and Nzunzu A& B villages in Kikuube district claim that sometimes, especially at night, they see vessels on lake Albert carrying away unidentified materials from the oil pads sites.  They wonder why these vessels only operate in the dark of night. One community member even wondered: “Could it be that they are already taking way the oil without our knowledge?

While this is highly unlikely, it shows that secrecy and limited access to information by the community breeds all sorts of rumours and anxiety.

In the extreme, the locals feel that they may ultimately not benefit much from the oil industry if activities are not carried out in a transparent manner. What is required, therefore, is improved engagement and communication with local communities regarding the activities in the oil and gas sector and how such activities are likely to affect their usual way of life.

For God and My Country

Cirrus Kabaale, Programs and Research Coordinator at Environment Governance Institute (EGI)

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Africa To Foster Renewable Energy Amidst Climate Change Impacts

By Ireen Twongirwe

Africa is already in the midst of a climate emergency. Our communities, ecosystems and economies are experiencing ever more intense heat waves, droughts, cyclones and catastrophic floods.

It’s important to note that millions of people in the Horn of Africa are suffering famine and high water stress is expected to displace up to 700 million Africans by 2030 according to research.

While Africa only accounts for around 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, we are more vulnerable to climate change and suffer disproportionately from each additional degree of global warming. Ours is the most climate vulnerable continent

Instead of the dirty polluting energy sources of the past such as fossil fuels, amidst the environmental challenges such as loss of biodiversity and human rights violations due to the fossil fuel projects especially coal, oil and gas in Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Mozambique, Africa and its people deserve the clean renewable energy sources of the future to achieve the Sustainable Goal 7 of the clean affordable energy and other Sustainable Development Goals globally by 2030.

It’s also important to note that Africa has 39% of the world’s total renewable energy potential, more than any other continent.

While centralized fossil fuel infrastructure has failed to bring energy to almost half of Africa’s population, renewable energy technologies can deliver a flexible combination of grid-based, off-grid and mini-grid solutions to enable universal energy access for all Africans.

Renewable energy systems are also more cost effective and resilient than their fossil counterparts.

However, most of the Africans can’t afford off grid solutions because there are expensive and maintenance is challenge. It’s on this note that I call upon government and her ministries to put incentives on the solar panels and other electric devices for easy accessibility.

More so for the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL), there is need for public awareness especially on the local communities on how to use locally led solutions to reduce on deforestation to promote and create employment opportunities for themselves.

In addition, deforestation  has also contributed to the climate change impacts due to the unsustainable use of firewood and charcoal can lead to soil erosion, desertification, in hilly areas, landslides that has contributed to the floods that has killed massive of people.

Therefore, substituting firewood with LPG, briquettes, cooking gas stoves reduces deforestation and can also improve agricultural productivity hence promoting green economy

Therefore, investments in renewables create more employment opportunities, mitigates and adapts climate change impacts that fossil fuels that have created more harm on the livelihoods and the environment.

In a nutshell, we are calling for a green renewable energy future that preserves climate stability and provides energy access to all.

For God and my country

Ireen Twongirwe works with Women for Green Economy Movement Uganda.

Renewable Energy Expo Promises So Much

The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) together with the National Renewable Energy Platform (NREP) is organizing the first ever Renewable Energy Conference & Expo 2022 that will take place at Kololo Airstrip on 3rd - 5th November 2022. 

The expo is being organized under the theme 'Renewable Energy for Sustainable Industrialization, Inclusive Growth and Economic Recovery."

In this interview, Earthfinds editor Baz Waiswa talks to Nicholas Mukisa, the Deputy National Coordinator for the National Renewable Energy Platform, about the expo and the potential of renewable energy in Uganda.   

What is the Renewable Energy Conference & Expo 2022 and what do you aim to achieve?

The Renewable Energy Conference & Expo 2022 is one of the deliverables of NREP and the agenda for this conference is to bring together all players in the industry. 

We are looking at the private sector coming in to showcase products they have and development partners to exhibit and also make presentations. We have delegates who will come from Germany, the UK, UAE, India and other places. We are going to have manufacturers come and exhibit at the expo. 

We are targeting the private sector, government and MDAs, and development partners. We will have the general auditorium where morning activities like the launch will take place and after eleven, we will have breakout sessions and side events.

The expo is going to be a one-stop centre for renewable energy with investment and business opportunities. The expo will be free to the public but exhibitors have to pay. Exhibitors can register at or call NREP. 

What should people look out for at the expo?

One of the challenges we have in the sector is reliance on biomass. At the moment we have advances in the energy sector. Technology has advanced. We have now moved from tier one to tier two technology like electric pressure cookers, solar-powered hotplates and others that are the latest on the market.

The expo will provide an opportunity for people to interact with the private sector investors who have ventured into these advanced technologies. This is going to be a point of awareness. People will learn a thing or two. 

When you talk of renewable energy what do you exactly mean?

These are energy resources that cannot get finished. For example, the sun will shine as long as we still have life. The wind will blow, always. The water will always flow. Geothermal, which is underground, like Kitagata, will always be here.  

When you talk of sustainable industrialization, what is the state of renewable energy in Uganda? 

Today, if you are talking about renewable energy, you will mention hydro, wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. We mostly use hydro and solar. Renewable energy contributes about 92.5% of our energy generation. That is even before you incorporate Karuma and other plants.

Hydro is the most matured technology among the renewables and since it has been here longer than solar and wind, people think it is not renewable. 

But you know that most of our industries use diesel and generators which is not good if you are talking about sustainability, the environment and not jeopardizing the future generation. Today we are talking about climate change, and pollution - if you are using heavy fuel oils, these are heavy pollutants and not good. 

That is why the government is trying to decommission some of these plants and see that we can use renewables. Today, the president (Museveni) wants direct power lines to industrial parks; to supply electricity. 

Events like the upcoming expo are aiming at promoting renewable energy use but the market notices issues like pricing as a hindrance, how is this being addressed? 

If you look at the global trends of solar prices, the prices have been going down tremendously. If you look at the prices of solar in 2000, then 2020 and now, you will see that they have fallen by over 80%. And not only solar panels but also inverters, modules and other equipment that use solar.  

The other issue is the presence of counterfeit or fake products on the market. 

Counterfeits are killing the market. People should get value for money. We should at how we should standardize. Opportunities like the expo and NREP stakeholder engagements can help.

We need to tighten our borders to ensure that no counterfeits enter the market. No one will be talking about affordability if they are getting a quality, durable, value-for-money product on the market. 


DR Congo Entry Into EAC Good For Uganda Oil & Gas Sector

By Dr. Abel Tindao

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has joined the East Africa Community (EAC) at a critical time for Uganda and its quest to become an oil and gas producer. Uganda and partners - Tanzania, TotalEnergies, CNOOC Uganda and others – in February announced the Final Investment Decision (FID) that will see international oil companies invest about $15bn in the Albertine Graben, western Uganda.

Uganda, with 6.2bn barrels of yet to be extracted crude oil (1.7bn said to be recoverable) shares a political boundary with DRC. Already, endowed with various minerals like gold, diamond and other, DRC, according to a 2012 seismic survey, suspects to have about 3bn barrels in the blocks around the Lake Albert basin. This basin is shared by both countries.

It is important to note that while Uganda and DRC are politically friendly, the continued instability in East DRC, including harbouring Ugandan rebels is detrimental to regional peace, doing business, development and social welfare. But now that DRC has joined the EAC, there is hope that the bloc can as a group pacify that part of DRC.

Existing collaboration between Uganda & DRC

Late last year, Uganda and DRC collaborated to help Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) flush out Allied Defense Forces (ADF) rebels out of their hideouts inside DRC using what has been called Operation Shuja. The ADF, backed by terrorism groups like Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda, had bombed two separate targets in Uganda’s capital Kampala. This collaboration is an indication that more collaborations can be achieved more so if they are economic.

In December of 2021 it was reported that Uganda had started building 223km of roads in the DRC at a cost estimated to be USD330m to improve trade in the two countries.

In 2020, DRC exported $17.7M to Uganda. The main products that DRC exported to Uganda are Raw Tobacco ($4.65M), Scrap Iron ($3.73M), and Sawn Wood ($3.15M). In the last 25 years the exports of DRC to Uganda have increased at an annualized rate of 16.1%, from $421, 000 in 1995 to $17.7M in 2020.

In 2020, Uganda exported $265M to DRC. The main products that Uganda exported to DRC were Cement ($40.6M), Palm Oil ($24.2M), and Rice ($12.2M). In the last 25 years the exports of Uganda to DRC have increased at an annualized rate of 8.03%, from $38.4M in 1995 to $265M in 2020.

With these number as provided by the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), an online data visualization and distribution platform, Uganda stands to benefit from this arrange by exporting more to the DRC< a country with a population of 90 million people.

The two above collaboration show to what extent the two countries eying economic transformation can go. And now that they are endowed with rich natural resources, there is so much they can achieve if they focus on being good neighbors, promote peace, economic recovery and pan Africanism.

Untapped potential waiting

Of the entire Albertine Graben endowed with huge potential of hydrocarbons, Uganda has explored only 40 percent and will in the next 25 years when the confirmed recoverable oil is expected to be depleted, Uganda will have earned a humongous USD50bn. But that is anything to be worried about. Already Oranto Petroleum and Armour Energy have been licensed to do exploration in that area.

Also, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) has sent out expression of interest for oil and gas exploration. Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) is teaming up China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC Uganda) to venture into that. This is an indication of how rich the Albertine Graben is and the prospects for Uganda continue to look good.

The DRC is already an oil producing country, positioned number 12 in Africa, depending largely on its coastal production activities in the western part of the country. But Sub Sahara’s largest country has huge untapped potential on borders of Uganda.

TotalEnergies, the oil company commandeering the development and eventual production of Uganda’s oil is said ‘to be chasing for business in DRC’ with a mission to tap into their resources. The oil company and Uganda & DRC can harmonize their interests and come up with a formula that will see the natural resources exploited and benefit the citizens.

Protecting the environment, rich biodiversity

Of course this has to be done sustainably since it is in an eco-sensitive area rich in biodiversity. You wouldn’t want to extract the hydrocarbon at the expense of the environment. That would be disastrous and irresponsible. Already, Civil Society Organisations (CSO) have sounded worries that fossil fuels is putting the environment in Lake Albert basin at risk and fueling climate change.

To avert such fears, Uganda has a good National Oil Gas Policy whose mission is to create everlasting value from the resources and law regimes that are protective of not only revenues that will be accrued from the oil and gas production but also the environment. DRC can bench on what Uganda has achieved, and of course, Uganda can offer what it has learnt so far.

Tightening security & ensuring peace

In the jungles of eastern DRC, proximately next to Uganda, there over 133 rebel or militia groups funded by the illicit minerals trade. These militias are a menace and if not dealt with can curtail the proper and sustainable exploitation of these natural resources.

We have seen this happen in Nigeria’s Delta where militia bomb and set oil pipelines ablaze. Uganda and DRC need to find a domestic solution to this because, like we have seen, even with the presence of United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), a UN peacekeeping force hasn’t stopped these militias from causing havoc.

Sometimes Lake Albert has seen Ugandan fishermen attacked by armed civilians or DRC soldiers and robbed clean while on the lake in Ugandan waters. This continues to happen even when the Ugandan government protested to their counterpart in Kinshasa. This cannot continue especially when exploration for oil is ongoing on the lake. Gun wielding bandits are a risk to manpower undertaking exploration. Oil companies wouldn’t want to invest and risk the lives of their workers like that.

It is therefore important that the two countries work out a solution and give investors and oil companies a guarantee that they are safe. Investor confidence is earned.

The writer is a Ugandan marine security expert.

Senegal, Mauritania Are Rich In Resources, Poor In Infrastructure, Now Is The Time To Change That

By NJ Ayuk

Beneath the coastal waters of Senegal and neighboring Mauritania lie some of the largest oil and natural gas discoveries in recent history, most occurring between 2014 and 2017. More than 1 billion barrels (bbl) of oil and 40,000 billion cubic feet (bcf) of natural gas await extraction.

These discoveries have reinvigorated industry interest in the Senegal-Mauritanian basin. Despite the vast potential, though, understanding how to turn it into a significant production hub is still evolving. Previous attempts to monetize smaller finds have foundered. Production levels at regional facilities have declined over the last decade. While Senegal's consistently low-volume Gadiaga project remains in operation, at Mauritania's Deepwater Chinguetti project, production ceased altogether at the close of 2017.

The question of how to exploit these new reserves, especially considering that they cross international boundaries, is being answered in part through partnership. The complexities inherent to fossil fuel ownership claims were addressed and amicably resolved in 2018 when the two countries agreed to the terms of the Inter-State Cooperation Agreement that delineated equal shares of the offshore resources. The governments and the local workforces are ready for progress. They are eager to see the various fields in this zone operating at their highest capacity.

However, a lack of existing infrastructure means that developing these projects will be a considerable undertaking requiring serious investment from committed partners. Further complicating matters, timing is a factor too, and the clock is ticking. Mauritania, for example,  needs to find a substitute for its iron mining business, which has provided for a sizeable portion of the national economy but is subject to the ebb and flow of demand from key customer China. A decrease in the market paired with an expected drop in the trading price would substantially impact the nation. The fiscal gap could be filled with proceeds from liquefied natural gas (LNG) produced from Mauritania's fields but only if production can come onboard fast enough to satisfy Europe's growing LNG needs, which are expected to peak in the mid-2030s.

The problem is, neither Mauritania nor Senegal has the means to bring offshore gas to domestic markets or to export LNG to international markets. Onshore gas-to-power infrastructure is minimal at best. Successfully monetizing this region's resources is an objective requiring proportionate attention paid to addressing these inadequacies.

A Prescription for Success

As detailed in the African Energy Chamber's Petroleum Laws – Benchmarking Report for Senegal and Mauritania, opportunities exist for collaboration between local governments and international oil companies (IOCs) that would accelerate the development of these offshore reserves.

Although it's possible that someday Mauritania could connect with one of Algeria's three pipelines to Europe, floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) vessels offer a more immediate and affordable solution.

International pipelines, an unrivaled method of fuel delivery when completed, are accompanied by their own unique, time-consuming difficulties during the planning stage. Any pipeline project must consider the potential for community displacement while simultaneously contending with the geological features and vegetation management issues. The risk of security concerns is another factor. While Senegal and Mauritania have not struggled with security issues, it is possible that instability in other countries in the region, such as the Islamic insurgency in neighboring Mali, could spread and pose a threat to land-based infrastructure. FLNG vessels like that offered by Golar, New Fortress Energy and Technip offer a reasonable way to negate most of these hindrances.

A Time to Act

Despite these time-sensitive challenges, Senegal and Mauritania offer international oil companies (IOCs) an undoubtedly lucrative opportunity deserving of investment. If the recent volatility in the European energy market is a forecast of coming circumstances, now is the time for international operators to establish solid relationships in Africa.

Ideally, IOCs should erect infrastructure that supports every facet of African gas and oil production. LNG export terminals, maritime logistics operations, and pipeline networks would all play a role in satisfying the world's already tremendous and growing need for energy —natural gas especially. Large-scale expenditures like these are in the best interest of IOCs, and Senegal and Mauritania extend a degree of cooperation not found elsewhere in the world.

Promising Steps

Mauritanian leadership has been proactively attracting international investment by relaxing restrictive business regulations, developing a gas master plan, and designating the port city of Nouadhibou as a gas processing, import, and export hub.

In addition to establishing offshore exploratory relationships with BP, Kosmos Energy, and Mauritania's own national oil company, Société Mauritanienne des Hydrocarbures et de Patrimoine Minier (SMHPM), the nation also seeks to develop onshore refineries in the effort to combat energy poverty on a grand scale.

President Macky Sall has pushed and executed a plan to improve the country's international appeal. Outlined in 2014, the Plan for an Emerging Senegal (PES) allocates billions to industrial infrastructure across the nation.

Construction of a deepwater port in the capital city of Dakar began earlier this year, as did the construction of Ourossogui-Matam Airport in the northeast. Improvement projects at airports in Kedougou, Tambacounda, and Ziguinchor have also commenced.

As of last year, high-speed, regional express rail travel is available in Senegal, and an expansion of the Dakar-Diamniadio-AIBD Toll Highway is currently underway.

Additionally, Dakar will host the MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power conference and exhibition Sept. 1-2 this year, where industry leaders will present the case for further international investment in Senegal and the region on the world stage.

Reinvestment: The Keystone of Sustainability

The African Energy Chamber is invigorated by the notable and ongoing progress in the MSGBC Basin. We regard success in the region as a certainty, but only with monetization and reinvestment in infrastructure will that success prove long-lived.

We encourage the governments of Senegal and Mauritania to remain vigilant concerning the monetization of their reserves. Each step of the gas value chain should generate revenue, and a portion of that revenue should further finance infrastructure development at home.

The worldwide demand for natural gas is already strong, and that demand increases with the passing of each season. Senegal and Mauritania stand uniquely poised to satisfy their national energy needs while satisfying those of Europe and beyond. Decisive action now paired with long-term, committed partnerships will guarantee the achievement of this objective.

Uganda Will Need Green Investments For Sustainable Economic Growth

By Rachael Amongin

Amidst the ‘green recovery’ drive, many governments are still prioritising environmentally unfriendly stimulus measures supporting fossil fuels to support poverty eradication and economic development which remain the key priorities for developing countries like Uganda.

Mr. Geofrey Ssemakasa a poultry farmer in Mukono district quit formal employment for agriculture and he has never looked back on the decision he made but instead is happy with what he has accomplished since he started poultry farming.

Like Mr. Ssemakasa, a number of people returned to agriculture and other natural resource-dependent activities, as a means of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, and this has put additional strain on natural resources, which were already stretched from rapid population growth, urbanisation, a refugee influx, and the drive for industrialisation. Increased demand for food and energy to sustain livelihoods and create income sources have added to the already high levels of unsustainable natural resource utilisation.

The World Bank reported that about 41 percent of Uganda’s land is now degraded, with an unsustainable rate of soil erosion and land degradation whose cost is estimated at about 17 percent of GDP; forest cover is declining by 2.6 percent every year, which is one of the highest rates of forest loss globally. Climate risks, including slow-onset change and extreme events, have exacerbated this natural capital degradation contributing to economic vulnerabilities and poverty, and will continue to do so in the future.

At a macro level, agriculture remains the mainstay of Uganda’s economy, supporting the livelihoods of over 70% of the population, most of whom rely solely on subsistence agriculture for their livelihood yet in addition to the post-COVID-19 crisis, Uganda also faced a locust invasion affecting crop production in parts of the northern and eastern regions. Added to this, was the impact of flooding and landslides that had a significant negative impact on Uganda’s food security situation. These natural disasters have affected the harvest and caused increased food insecurity in the worst-hit areas.

Looking at the budgetary allocations for FY 2022/23 of Shs. 628 billion for the environment and climate change sector, including funding to enhance resilience to climate change, restoration of degraded and protected ecosystems, and forest conservation, the allocated resources are inadequate. They lack consideration of environmental sustainability in the long run.

It has been observed that if the identified green growth interventions were fully implemented, they could provide a boost to economic activity, worth around 10% of GDP by 2040, deliver employment of up to 4 million jobs and reduce future greenhouse gas emissions by 28% and considering that Uganda is a natural resource-based economy where the majority of the population highly depends on natural resources for their livelihoods, it follows that the transition to a green economy will require a paradigm shift in the management of the natural resources.

The natural environment is humanity’s first line of defense against floods, droughts, heat waves, and other disasters thus the need to protect and work with nature to build resilience and reduce climate risks at all scales. Let us continuously advocate for catalytic investment in sectors like agriculture, tourism, and clean energy that have got high green growth multiplier effects.

Rachael Amongin, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Here Is Why You Should Drink Milk During Pregnancy

Maternal diet influences the health of both the child and mother. Pregnancy is one of the most crucial and sensitive periods in a woman’s life and also very exciting because it is the time the entire family awaits the birth of a new born baby, therefore taking extra caution to have a balanced diet is crucial. 

Dr. Sabrina Kitaka – a Paediatrician, and Senior lecturer in the Department of Paediatrics and Child health at Makerere University ‘s School of Medicine says, ‘During pregnancy, a mother is not only responsible for herself but also the new life that is growing inside her.

Optimal nutrition is of utmost priority and drinking milk during pregnancy ensures that the mother meets many of her nutritional requirements. A pregnant woman needs an abundance of nutrients during pregnancy, which milk provides.’

Dr. Kitaka adds that today, getting milk isn’t a challenge because it is always available since there are options of having it pre-packaged for consumption. 

Marketing Manager Fresh Dairy – Vincent Omoth highlights that Fresh Dairy Long life UHT milk offers convenience to consumers because it lasts up to 90 days with or without it being refrigerated, tastes as good as fresh milk and is now available in both 500ml and 200ml packs costing 1,600UGX and 800UGX respectively. 

Dr. Sabrina Kitaka noted the following as critical nutrients that pregnant mothers can get from drinking a glass of milk (200ml) daily: Calcium, Protein, iodine, Potassium, Phosphorous and Vitamins B2 and B12. 

Milk is an excellent source of Calcium: A pregnant woman needs at least 1000 mg of calcium every day which can be attained by daily consumption of milk. Calcium helps strengthen the baby's rapidly-developing bones and teeth, boosts muscle, heart and nerve development as well. 

Milk is rich in Protein: During pregnancy, protein is very important because it aids in the build-up of the uterus. This vital nutrient ensures a steady blood supply, especially to vital parts of the female anatomy such as the breasts and the baby’s tissues. 

Rich in Vitamin D: Vitamin D is vital to ensure a normal birth weight and prevention of neonatal rickets. You can get most of your nutrients and other vitamins from various food sources. But when it comes to Vitamin D, milk is one of the very few sources rich in this vitamin. As a result, milk becomes an important component of your pregnancy diet, says Dr. Sabrina. 

Helps to Combat Heartburn

Milk is a natural antacid and can combat heartburn which is a common occurrence during pregnancy, thanks to all the hormones that are playing havoc within the mother’s body. Since it is not advisable to take over-the-counter medications when you are pregnant, milk becomes an excellent solution to heartburn.

‘In fact, drinking a glass of warm milk right before bedtime improves the quality of sleep for pregnant mothers because insomnia is common during pregnancy. However, never drink milk immediately after a meal,’ cautions Dr. Sabrina. 

Healthy Way to Stay Hydrated

Dr Sabrina Kitaka says that keeping yourself hydrated while pregnant is extremely important because the baby is also drawing fluids from your body. Milk will help you keep the hydration level of the body up. 

Higher Level of Insulin

Milk contains a higher level of insulin. Studies have proven that children born to women who regularly consumed milk during their pregnancy had a lesser risk of contracting diseases or developing Type 2 diabetes in their late teens, according to Dr. Sabrina. 

Enhances the Fetal Brain Development

Milk has a significant quantity of iodine. IQ development in children is key and Iodine is a key component. Also, being rich in proteins, amino acids, and fatty acids, milk helps with the development of the baby’s nervous system.’ 

Dr. Kitaka concluded by saying that milk can be extremely beneficial during pregnancy if taken correctly and cautions that pregnant mothers should avoid dairy products made from unpasteurized milk, endeavor to drink warm milk, never gulp milk fast, but enjoy it in small sips.

Once in a while, you can give it a twist by diluting milk with water (two portions of milk to one portion of water); preparing fruit shakes and smoothies by adding fruits; or pouring it over your breakfast cereal.


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