Baz Waiswa

Baz Waiswa

How New Life Schools Buwaidha Is Planning To Uplift Education In Buyende District

Buyende district remains one of the most impoverished districts in Uganda and it is even more appalling when it comes to education, skills training and transfer and knowledge acquisition.

The district on the shores of Lake Kyoga largely relies on government schools are often ill-equipped to the constraints government faces when funding schools across the country.

 

Eng Isabirye Gerald is the executive director of New Life Schools Buwaidha

In this interview, Eng Isabirye Gerald, as the executive director, talks about the plans they are laying a plan to transform the education sector in Buyende district through New Life Schools Buwaidha.

Background of the New Life Schools Buwaidha  

New Life Schools Buwaidha is a community school located in a village called Buwaidha found in Buyende district, Busoga sub-region. The multipurpose school seeks to provide quality education to vulnerable children in a dignifying environment. The vision of New Life Schools Buwaidha is to train a generation of Godly leaders who will serve nations.

We believe opening a school in the Buwaidha area is imperative to the well-being of the children not only in their education but in developing them psychologically, emotionally and socially and giving them a chance to experience life as a normal child should. 

 

New Life Schools Buwaidha is bringing new education facilities and equipment like smartboards to Buyende district

The objectives are quite many, and our vision puts the entire community at the centre. For example, we want children in Buwaidha and neighbouring communities to reach their full potential by providing them with a good education. 

We want to start community-based projects that we hope will provide jobs to people in the community and keep families together as the school is a local amenity. 

Targeted achievements

New Life Schools Buwaidha wants every child to have an opportunity to attain quality formal education to break the cycles of illiteracy and poverty that have been for so long defined this area.  

This is what we want to achieve. We want to support vulnerable and underprivileged children living in Buwaidha village and the surrounding areas with easy access to quality education.

Education model  

At New Life Schools Buwaidha, we use the Ugandan curriculum. We will teach everything that as required by the government. Our students will take the required tests to be able to graduate like the rest of the country. 

The difference with New Life Schools is that we teach the same information but in a different way. Instead of teaching only how to memorize to pass tests and exams, we teach our students critical thinking. 

The plan is to start with the launch of the Kindergarten in January 2023. Once the Kindergarten school is open, a year later, we will build the Primary division and High School. 

The school will have a Recreational Center, Teachers' Housing and a Medical Centre. The school will also provide community-based projects and training programs outside of school hours. 

Planned Kyabazinga launch  

First, it is always a pleasure and prestigious when the Kyabazinga graces such a function. We expect the Kyabazinga to come with a high delegation from the kingdom. Also, we hope that the Kyabazinga will come with a message of hope to inspire his subject. There is always something to learn from the Kyabazinga.

New Life Schools is working with Obwa Kyabazinga Bwa Busoga. And to launch the project, the Kyabazinga of Busoga, His Majesty William Wilberforce Gabula Nadiope IV, will on 28th January 2023 preside over the launch of the kindergarten section and break the ground for the construction of the upper sections – primary and secondary sections. 

Petroleum Institute Gets Museveni’s Backing To Reach Full Potential

President Yoweri Museveni has asked Uganda Petroleum Institute – Kigumba (UPIK) to present its full development plan because the government has the money to support it.

The President made the call while commissioning new infrastructure projects undertaken by the institute on Saturday. UPIK, with funding from the World Bank and the government of Uganda, undertook a $32m infrastructure development including staff houses that the president commissioned.

“I really want to tell you that the problem here is bad planning by the overall government structure because this money that we are talking about, the $32 million which has been invested is not such a big amount of money given the importance of Kigumba Petroleum Institute,” the President said.

He said Government should plan well and prioritise investing in lucrative projects that will generate billions of dollars for the country in a few years to come.

“The question is how many oil projects do you have? We have only one in Mwitanzige (Lake Albert) Valley. It's the project we have that will give us billions of dollars in a few years’ time and it needs support of training which we planned Kigumba Institute should provide that,” he added.

“Even if we are to spend $50 million, 60 or even $100 million to make Kigumba Petroleum Institute a world class training centre, we shall do it. We have the money. Yes we have got very many needs, some want money to eat. We can constrain that. We can say stop travelling. Tell the civil servants, the MPs, the politicians to stop travelling abroad; money is being wasted in external travel and here Kigumba is crying for money!

President Museveni also disclosed that it was Uganda under the NRM Government that started the initiative of training people in petroleum in the whole of Africa.

“The people we sent abroad to train in petroleum are the ones who discovered oil here. They came and showed me on the computer. That is how they started now to look for these companies because we didn't have the money to dig but already, we knew the location of the oil,” he said.

“If you have that history of pioneering, let's also pioneer in this Education here by having a world-class petroleum training centre and later alone you can have other aspects of energy like solar and biogas. We can add them later. So, please let us get the full plan. We shall support it because it is unique. You cannot compare it with external travel and allowances inside Uganda. We can freeze all that and have this like we have done for other things.”

The First Lady also Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Museveni, said the Skilling Uganda Strategic Plan aims to skill Ugandans and unlock their potential for productivity.

Since then, the education ministry has been implementing various projects towards the achievement of that goal and interventions within these projects have led to improved infrastructure, systems and processes in the delivery of technical and vocational education training in this country. 

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Sports, Kate Lamaro, said the commissioned facilities were very significant to the government's journey of transforming skills development in the country.

“UPIK is earmarked to be transformed into a Centre of Excellence for oil and gas-related training. This is in line with the Skilling Uganda strategy and plan which strongly advocates for building centres of excellence to supply manpower for specific economic sectors,” Lamaro said.

 

SMEs Have A Critical Role In Creating Jobs & Incomes - Miraj Barot

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries like Uganda are critical when pursuing sustainable growth because they create jobs, are innovative and pay taxes to government, Miraj Barot, the Managing Director of Tirupati Group Of Companies, told a high-level conference in Kampala.

“SMEs have played a more successful role in increasing employment and arranging incomes; they are drivers of sustainable economic growth. As they say, little drops of water make a mighty ocean; similarly, smallscale industries can combine and make a huge economy,” Miraj said.

He was speaking at the Religion & Enterprise Africa Summit 2022 event on Saturday at Sheraton Hotel in Kampala. The Summit was organized by Human Capital International Uganda under the theme ‘entrepreneurial transformation through faith-based innovation, investment, trade and technology.’

Miraj, who was discussing the topic ‘Advantages of Having SMEs in Developing Countries’, explained that SMEs have competitive structures and strategies and can easily adapt to changes. “During covid19, a tailor who was making clothes for people suddenly started making masks; SMEs are highly flexible,” he said.

He said that for success, SMEs need to be faithful to their religions inorder to be able to do good, be ethical and with high levels of integrity. "It is very important to have these values instilled in us in our youth so that they not only maintain social values of our families but also the entire country to prosper at large.

To Stop Or To Support Eacop

In recent times, most especially after the signing of the Final Investment Decision (FID) in February this year, government agencies and personalities intensified efforts to promote, protect and make a case for Uganda's premier oil and gas infrastructure project, the East African Crude Pipeline. 

A campaign codenamed Support EACOP was rolled out to counter Stop EACOP, a campaign which over the years has been traded by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that look at the $3.5bn Pipeline as a climate change facilitator by potentially emitting over 34 million tons of CO2 emissions every single year. 

According to revised plans, the Pipeline construction is scheduled to start in 2023 and be ready in 2025 when Uganda will realize First Oil.

The 1444km pipeline will carry crude oil from Hoima in western Uganda to the Tanzanian port of Tanga where it will be shipped to the international market. The EACOP project developers are TotalEnergies (62%), the Ugandan and Tanzanian governments (15% each) and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (8%). 

The pipeline, which will be the longest electrically-heated crude oil pipeline in the world, will transport 216,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the Tilenga and Kingfisher oil fields. Apart from carrying the Ugandan waxy black gold and the subsequent revenue, it will give Uganda, the Pipeline development will create hundreds of jobs and offer numerous business opportunities to Ugandans and Tanzanians. 

The snaking infrastructure, like the ongoing Support EACOP & Stop EACOP debate, has positive and negative sides. 

FIGHTING TO ‘STOP’ & ‘SUPPORT’ EACOP

The government and the International Oil Companies (IOCs) had for the long haul ignored the anti-fossil fuels campaigners to go on with the EACOP smear campaign until now. The environmentalists, local and international organizations and individuals called on the government to abandon the multibillion-dollar project. 

On seeing that the government was not yielding, they turned their focus on the potential financiers of the Pipeline like banks and insurance companies. And indeed they managed to get some American and European banks to back off and indicate that they cannot fund the project because of the risks it poses to the environment and its contribution to climate change. Financial institutions like JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and others have ruled out any financing role. Insurance heavyweights Munich Re, Allianz, Axa and Beazley will not provide any cover. TotalEnergies has not come out to address this matter but their operations in Uganda have remained steady. 

In an interview with Daily Monitor, Mr. Peter Muliisa, the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) Chief Legal and Corporate Affairs Officer said they have 'entities from Europe, from Asia and all over the world willing to finance EACOP. He told the newspaper that they will be able to announce the chosen financiers in July. According to the Center for International Environment Law, Japanese Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) is acting as financial advisor to TotalEnergies in a deal that will see a yet-to-be-named Japanese bank bankroll the transboundary project. TotalEnergies by proximity to CNOOC is also said to be considering going to China in search of a capable financier.

POPULAR GLOBAL ENERGY TRANSITION MOVEMENT 

The global conversation regarding the energy transition that will see the world move on from fossil fuels to clean energy put projects like the EACOP in a difficult position and developing countries like Uganda set to adversely be affected by this transition are putting up a fight. 

These poor countries want to extract oil and gas at any cost. And with the financial backing of international companies, as we are seeing in Uganda, the developing countries will proceed to harvest the hydrocarbons as they keenly observe the clean green energy game so that they don’t miss out on anything. 

In Uganda, there is the political will for the country to extract the hydrocarbons from the ground, refine them for the domestic market and export the rest to the international market which is the part where the EACOP comes in. 

But to achieve this, Uganda has to deal with local CSOs that have the backing and influence of their counterparts from the West. They want Uganda to abort its mission of extracting its oil and join the energy transition trend swaying into the renewable and green energy side.  

The anti-EACOP campaigners in Uganda led by Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), a CSO leading 13 others on his cause, argues that the EACOP project poses immense social, economic, environmental, and biodiversity and climate change risks. The CSOs alert that these risks are set to, directly and indirectly, affect forests, national parks, game reserves, lakes, rivers, wetlands and others in Uganda and Tanzania.

BIODIVERSITY RISKS RAISED

AFIEGO, quoting a 2017 World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report reveals that the EACOP will affect 2,000km of protected areas and will fragment habitats for elephants, chimpanzees and other endangered animals in protected areas like Bugoma, Wambabya and Taala forests in Uganda as well as Minziro Nature Forest Reserve and Burigi-Biharamulo Game Reserve in Tanzania.

It is also believed that the EACOP is set to affect wetlands belonging to Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika as well as the Wami/Ruvu and Pagani basins. Other wetland systems that are likely to be impacted include the Sango Bay-Musambwa Island, Nabajjuzi and Lake Nabugabo, Mabamba Bay, Lutembe bay and others.

The conservationists say that the pipeline poses a great risk to the rich biodiversity – the forests, game reserves, lakes, wetlands and other protected areas which are habitats for internationally-recognized endangered species. Bugoma forest in Uganda hosts over 600 chimpanzees or 12% of Uganda’s chimpanzee population; the wetland systems are important bird areas for both migratory and other bird species.

Some of the social impacts include the possibility of EACOP affecting a total of 13,000 households in Uganda and Tanzania. These households are losing land, houses, homes and a way of life. 

As they waited for compensation, the Project Affected Persons were stopped from using their land to grow perennial food and cash crops leading to food scarcity, reduced family incomes, psychosocial distress, school drop-outs, and abuse of their cultural rights and others. 

In the long-term, community and public expenditure on health, climate change crises and others could increase because of the EACOP. Air pollution, oil spills and others will worsen community health.

ALL IS WELL – GOVERNMENT, OIL COMPANIES SAY

Despite all these fears being raised by the CSOs, the EACOP project, like the other oil projects will go ahead as planned with the full blessings of the government including well-received approvals from the National Environment Management Authority which supervises and certifies all Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) conducted before any project commences. The EACOP, after a rigorous ESIA exercise, was okayed by NEMA and will proceed. Internally, the IOCs, TotalEnergies and CNOOC Uganda, base their and international based. 

TotalEnergies recently launched the Tilenga Biodiversity Program, an initiative aimed at protecting and conserving biodiversity in and around the Tilenga project area. This gesture has been looked at as evidence and commitment from TotalEnergies indicating that prioritizing nature was top of the company’s agenda.

Mr. Philippe Groueix, the General Manager of TotalEnergies, said they are mindful of the sensitive context within which they are undertaking their activities. "We have thus committed to ensuring that we implement action plans designed to produce a net positive impact on biodiversity. The biodiversity program will ensure a sustainable approach in working with the community towards protecting and conserving the ecologically rich area.”

Speaking at the 3rd National Local Content Conference Ms. Pauline Macronald, the Environment & Biodiversity Manager at TotalEnergies said the company strives to manage the environmental effects of all its projects & operations according to the Mitigation Hierarchy principles of avoidance, minimization, restoration & offsetting. 

To enhance Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services, Ms. Macronald, revealed that TotalEnergies has partnered with NEMA, National Forestry Authority, Ministry of Water, ECOTRUST, Uganda Wildlife, Petroleum Authority and Wildlife Conservation Society to ensure a positive impact on wildlife & communities. 

Mr. John B. Habumugisha the Deputy Managing Director of EACOP Limited, a company that was formed to do business, discussing Environment and Social Governance elaborated that as a company, they continue to insist that anything they do around EACOP must be stringently compliant to the environmental and Social requirements. "In terms of the environment, we have avoided most of the sensitive areas & the design levels are stringent. Our system ensures that we don't have issues of spillage," said Mr. Habumugisha.

The Petroleum Authority of Uganda, the industry regulator, has fully backed the project saying that IOCs have done the necessary due diligence to ensure the safe production and transportation of oil through EACOP. Dr Joseph Kobusheshe the Director HSE at Petroleum Authority explained that Environment and Social Governance has become an important measure of sustainability.

THE WORLD, ESPECIALLY AFRICA, STILL NEEDS OIL & GAS  

The emergence of the pumped-up Support EACOP agenda knocking out Stop EACOP with verve reignited a public debate on what is the right thing to do. This debate also came at a time when the war in Eastern Europe between Ukraine and Russia was causing a scarcity of crude oil and sky-rocketing fuel prices globally. 

The war and the subsequent sanctions by the EU and partners on Russia created a scarcity of Natural Liquefied Gas. These scarcities and the outcry that resulted somehow underscored the fact that fossil fuels still drive the day-to-day lives of people across the world and that the world cannot afford to live without them. 

In a highly publicized article, President Yoweri Museveni May this year described efforts by developed countries to impose a moratorium on fossil fuel investment across the world as 'misguided'. President Museveni explained that due to the highly increasing population in Uganda, renewables cannot 'deliver the base load required to boost manufacturing or industrialize agriculture -- crucial for Africa in the wake of the pandemic.'

"In light of the Ukraine war, the West, too, would do well to consider a policy change -- and initiatives like the Lake Albert basin oil project may form part of the answer. By investing in oil and gas deposits in friendly nations such as Uganda, Europe could decrease its reliance on hostile nations." President Museveni penned. 

President Museveni's argument is shared by many industry players on the African continent. They argue that with Africa's socioeconomic development hinging on the exploitation of the continent's oil and gas resources, this ‘hypocrisy’ by already developed countries in the West could spell a travesty for Africa.

Mr. Leoncio Amada Nze, the president of the African Energy Chamber questions 'how is it that Africa must decarbonize while Europe continues to industrialize.' He says: “We deserve to develop our oil and gas to make energy poverty history. In 2022, Africa needs to ramp up its licensing rounds, drive exploration and position itself as the primary supplier for domestic and global markets." With over 600 million people without access to electricity, Africa cannot and should not leave its oil and gas resources in the ground, he adds. 

 

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