PLE Excellence Challenges Us To Do Better, Kampala Parents Principal

The good academic performance registered by Kampala Parents’ School ‘energizes’ and ‘challenges’ the school’s administration ‘to do even much better’, the school’s principal, Madam Daphne Kato, wrote in a widely publicized article.

In the 2018 national Primary Leaving Examination, Kampala Parents registered a 100% pass rate when all the 234 candidates passed in grade one. "With 100% pupils in first grade, Kampala Parents’ performance is more than 3 times above the average first-grade performance for all Kampala schools- 29.6 percent," she wrote.

"Certainly as we start 2019 academic year, that also coincides with the 15th Anniversary under new management, we are more than energized but at the same time, challenged as well to do even much better. We believe with our world-class facilities and the immense support from both our parents and teachers, as well as our proprietors, the sky is the limit,"

Madam Kato calls upon all parents to continue being involved and taking keen interest in the education of their children. “On our part, we promise to continue working with and through the Parents Advisory Board to continuously review and improve our quest to provide holistic education to our learners,”

Fifteen years ago, Kampala Parents’ School became part of the Ruparelia Group, a move that changed the school’s fortunes. Madam Kato reveals that under the Ruparelia Group, the school has undergone both an ideological and structural transformation.

She said: "Ideologically, the school has reoriented its focus to becoming centre of balanced academic excellence as reflected in our mission i.e. “to facilitate first-class education and civilisation to children with and from outside Uganda with the hope that there will be a better world community tomorrow,"

"This shift which is very visible in our all-round curriculum, is backed by the school’s proprietors’ conviction that “the growth of any nation, lies in the hands of the young generation and the responsibility to mould them into useful citizens is on us, the adult generation.”

"The schools’ proprietors and management, believe that a diversely-skilled human resources is the major driving force for every country’s development and that developing useful industrious human resources needs laying a strong foundation right from childhood. With this conviction, the school, in 2010 started on an aggressive physical expansion and quality enhancement programme.

The Ruparelia Group between 2010 and 2012 invested in excess of $7 million, physically expanding the school from just a 4-acre establishment to a 13-acre world class centre of educational excellence.

The expansion exercise saw, 35 new spacious classroom blocks added to the school, creating a total of 110 classrooms. With 110 classrooms and an installed capacity of up to 3,000 kids, each class has an average of 40 to 50 children and a teacher to pupil ratio of 1:25.

The expansion also came with 2 new state-of-the-art and well stocked libraries, 2 ICT rooms with smart boards, 2 fully-equipped science labs, 2 home science labs, 1 media room, 1 stitching room with enough sewing machines, 1 music room, 1 drama room and a 2,000-seater multipurpose hall to double both as the dining hall and recreation centre.

We also constructed a new sports centre, with a swimming pool, basketball and netball courts.

A new purpose-built pre-primary section with a capacity of 700 children and a day care centre with a capacity of up to 200 toddlers was built. A 2-kilometre wall fence was also erected around the 13-acre school complex to boost security and safety.

The expansion phase, was completed in 2012, making Kampala Parents’ one of the largest and most equipped educational centres with an installed capacity of 3,000 pupils in the upper primary school section and 700 kids in the pre-primary and day care sections.

With the physical expansion complete, the school also underwent several staff and management changes, so as to be able to support our new orientation of producing all-round and balanced children, but also meet stakeholder expectations.

New Mining Policy Presents Little Relief For Artisanal Miners

By Flavia Nalubega

On 17th May 218, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development announced Cabinet’s approval of new Minerals and Mining Policy.  The policy is meant to guide Uganda’s mineral’s sector and address the gaps in the mining laws.

For a process that has taken over five years, indeed  there is need to celebrate! It has been a forth and back process, but very involving. There is need to applaud the Ministry that greatly involved mining communities, civil society organizations in Uganda that do advocacy work on mining, particularly ActionAid among others, legal bodies and other participants.

The beauty about this policy lies in the input to support formalization and regulation of Artisanal and Small Scale Mining. The Policy will as well consider mainstreaming gender equity, human rights and inclusiveness in the mineral sector, which is key in promoting and protecting women miners while discouraging children in mining. 

ASMs and women miners have for so long labored in Uganda’s mining sector with little or no recognition. With the so much effort they put in to earn a living from the sector, all they’ve faced is the iron law that supports big mining companies at the cost of these communities. They are forced to mine ‘crumps’ and the real ‘bread’ in the mining areas goes to international investors. 

 From the current artisan mining in Mubende, Buhweju, Busia, Namayingo, Nakapiripirit, Amudat, Kaabong, Abim and Moroto Districts, its estimated that about 200 kilograms of gold equivalent to $ 8m, is being mined per month by ASMs and all this goes untaxed neither unrecognized. 

In Mubende alone, gold mining has attracted tens of thousands of Ugandans to earn a living from the lucrative mining business. But last year the government took a bold step and chased all the over 50,000 ASMs from the gold mining area in favour of an AUC International mining company. The Government practically sent its people into unemployment and ripple effects are felt until date in increased crime rates, increased robberies and the high rate of kidnaps for money. 

In Lwera-Masaka, sand minining has become a business for international companies. Chinese export this sand for billions of dollars, while local communities look on. They have occupied and bought off locals in this area-forcefully It took legislators’ and Civil society’s noise and interventions  for Government to finally take a stand against export of this sand, an exercise that had gone on for years. 

It is exciting to learn that Government now acknowledges that ASMs can make a big contribution to this country through taxation, while also earning a living from this lucrative business. We also jubilate that the President recently gave a directive to have the ASMs return to their gold mining area in Mubende, after confirming that they are an organized and registered mining group. The recent news about MEMD’s new office in Karamoja to bring support services close to the mining community there is also very fulfilling. This and more is what is expected of any democratic government. 

The new Policy also proposes an establishment of ASM Fund to support lending schemes and protection of miners and facilitate access to land for Artisanal and small scale mining as well as establish an enabling framework for Artisanal and Small Scale Mining. 

We need the Mining Law

Even with all this, it is not yet time to over jubilate the Policy for it is only a guiding document. There is need to fasten the process of reviewing the Mining Act 2003 to address what the policy proposes, if the mining sector is to be better organized for the benefit of both government, mining communities and mining companies.

The policy is expected to inform the proposed amendment to Mining Act, 2003 and address the gaps existing in Uganda’s mining laws. On announcement of the approval of the Mining Policy, the Ministry also confirmed the Mining Act had been tabled before the Parliamentary committee for review.

We appreciate this far the law has come, but for a process that started close to four years ago, there is need to fasten the review process to enact the law. With the law in place, ASMs will have a fall back position, especially when their rights to mining are violented, like has been the case in the recent past.

Key reforms in the policy;

  • It proposes for the establishment of ASM Fund to support artisanal miners
  • It proposes for the establishment of Mining Tribunal to arbitrate minerals and mining disputes
  • It proposes for the establishment of the Mineral Audit Agency to assess royalties payable, revenue distribution and management among others
  • It recommends for the establishment of a Mineral Reserve Fund where revenues from minerals will be collected.
  • It proposes for the establishment of local content Development Fund in the mineral sector for skills and enterprise development.
  • Establishes a committee to review and evaluate applications for mineral rights.

Flavia Nalubega works for ActionAid Uganda

Production Of Oil In The Albertine Will Disrupt The Climate

The production of oil in the Albertine region will not only bring cash to the economy but it will also disrupt the climate since burning of fossil fuels is one of the challenges facing the world today which has caused extreme weather conductions, rising oceans and record setting temperatures are wreaking havoc on hundreds of millions of lives and livelihoods around the world and Uganda has had its own share of this.

The greenhouse gas emissions, primarily from burning fossil fuels have already warmed the globe by more than 1°C since the beginning of the industrial revolution, unless we can rein in these emissions and ambitiously transition to a just, clean and renewable energy future, the planet will become unrecognizable as global temperatures soar by 4,5, or 6°C and beyond which will affect a way of living  hence causing a crisis in production of food and other services.

The vast majority of the historical global emissions that are driving the climate change have come from the excessive use of fossil fuels but it’s the poorest countries like Uganda that are having high appetite of investing in production of fossil fuels and yet we can afford to adapt to the changing climate.

The recent global climate agreement in Paris was a major step in recognizing the global urgency of the crisis but the it will take serious action from both international and national governments to meet the new goals that inspire to limit global warming however the deal fell short when the Europeans started to finance the production of oil in Uganda and Africa at large and efforts to support the most vulnerable are limited when even adaptation becomes impossible.

In order to avoid the worst of dangerous climate change, we must keep carbon in the ground. According to the best available science, to have a decent shot at limiting global warming to even 2°C, 80% of the fossil fuels we already have access to must stay in the ground, this number will be even more dramatic for the 1.5 °C limit that countries such as the U.S., have committed to. This effectively means no major new fossil fuel projects, and phasing out existing fossil fuel production and consumption by the middle of the century, replacing them with a safe, clean, just, and renewable economy that is 100% decarbonized.

Written by Mumbere Edwin Fanta

Kasese Field officer-Africa Institute for Energy Governance.

 

Borrowing For Energy Sector Has Not Benefited Ugandans

By Diana Nabiruma

On Wednesday January 8, 2019, after its 5pm news bulletin, Sanyu FM aired some of its listeners’ views on what their expectations of 2019 are.

Most of the sampled listeners expressed fears of a hard 2019. Worries over economic and political hardships were rife.

One particular listener’s views caught my attention however. In Luganda, he groaned that his two meals a day would be reduced to one in 2019.

Why?

He must have heard the alarm raised by the Auditor General (AG) and civil society organisations (CSOs) about Uganda’s rising debt.

CSOs say Uganda’s borrowing is unsustainable. The AG also expressed discomfort over the country’s debt burden, standing at Shs 41.3 trillion.

Further, in the 2018/2019 financial year, over 65% of revenues collected by government are supposed to be used on debt servicing!

Hence the above listener’s worries.

He said that in 2019, government was going to suck citizens dry to pay the mounting debt.

As such, people such as himself would have to forego basic necessities such as food!

FINANCE MINISTER REACTS

Interestingly, on the day the above listener’s views were aired, Hon. Matia Kasaija, the Finance Minister, held a press conference at the media centre to soothe the public.

He is reported to have told journalists that Ugandans should stay calm.

He said that at a debt to GDP ratio of 41.5%, Uganda’s debt is below international sustainability thresholds of a debt to GDP ratio of 50%.

To further calm Ugandans, the minister is reported to have said that if some of them are still around, there is no way the country would be led into debt stress!

He also reassured Ugandans that because money borrowed has been invested in the productive sectors of roads and energy, the debts would pay off.

HAVE ENERGY SECTOR DEBTS PAID OFF?

However, a look at available evidence and Uganda today shows that the above assertion by Hon. Kasaija’s assertion is erroneous.

Over the last ten years, (2009/2010-2018/2019), government has allocated over Shs 16. 871 trillion to the energy sector. This was 16.57% of Uganda's GDP as at June 2018.

Some of the above money has been borrowed and invested in the construction of dams with the view that electrification will address poverty among other challenges in Uganda.

Indeed, Hon. Kasaija affirmed that monies borrowed have been invested in dams such as Isimba and Karuma.

Noteworthy is the fact that the costs of Bujagali, Karuma and Isimba dams alone cover over 30.4% of Uganda's $10.7 billion debt burden. 

Have Ugandans however benefitted from monies borrowed and invested in the electricity and roads sector? 

Well, in 2015, the World Bank reported that that for every dollar invested in infrastructural projects, less than a dollar is recouped.

In addition, despite all the money that has been invested in the electricity sector, a dismal 22% of Uganda’s population had access to electricity as at June 2018.

Further, a look at the World Bank’s access to electricity data shows that in some instances, development of dams has had a negative impact on electricity access.

For instance, before commissioning of Bujagali dam in 2012, urban electricity access stood at 55.4%. This was in 2011.

In 2012 when Bujagali was commissioned, urban electricity access dropped to 51.2%. By 2015, Ugandan urbanites were in yet to recover with only 51.9% having access to electricity. Our rural counterparts fared worse. 

Even more indicting is the fact that according to 2016/2017 survey results released by Uganda Bureau of Statistics in 2018, poverty levels in Uganda increased from 19.7% in 2012/2013 to 21.4% in 2016/2017. Rural poverty rose to 22.5% and urban poverty to 9.4%! 

How then, are Uganda’s debts expected to pay off as the minister reassured Ugandans if increased borrowing is followed by increasing poverty?

Moreover, with the corruption, high costs of and procurement scandals that rocked the Karuma and Isimba dam deals, power from the two dams is unlikely to be as cheap as government promises it will be.

This means that the envisaged socio-economic transformation arising from completion of the two dams is unlikely to happen!

The author is the Senior Communications Officer of Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO).

 

Smarter Cities For Better Life

The 31st of October is celebrated as World Cities Day. It is an opportunity to raise awareness of the trends and consequences of increasing urbanization and the challenges and opportunities urbanization brings to sustainable development. It is also a chance to promote best practices, new ideas and partnerships between cities and different stakeholders.

According to a report released by UN in May, today 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050, with 90% of this increase taking place in Asia and Africa. An earlier report by the organization also projected that Africa and Asia together will account for 86 per cent of growth in the world’s urban population over the next 4 decades.

As the human population gradually shifts from rural to urban areas, this unprecedented increase has already posed new challenges in terms of jobs, housing, and transportation. Cities are finding it increasingly complex to effectively manage the city and provide good services to citizens at the same time.

With the development of information and communication technologies (ICT), the “Smart City” concept is emerging as a critical phenomenon in urban development. Using various ICT or innovative solutions, the Smart City integrates the city's constituent systems and services to enhance the efficiency of resource allocation and utilization, optimize urban management and services, and improve the quality of life of citizens. 

Smart cities can be likened to a living organism with a “nervous system” (the network and sensors), connecting its “brain” (the control center) with “limbs and organs” (departments and institutions), enhancing the city's management and services. In this process, ICT solutions can play a critical role in connecting the digital and physical worlds across city administration, public services, and industries. Using new ICT including cloud computing, Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), and Artificial Intelligence (AI), these solutions drive unified coordination, cross-sector collaboration, and intelligent analysis for effective management of city services.

In some parts of Africa, due to low fertility of African soils, before planting corns, beans or cassavas, people usually need to fertilize the soil. Similarly, if we want to see more applications that make cities smarter, we need to lay the foundation for them to “grow”. Huawei believes that connectivity brought by ICT infrastructure including mobile networks and fiber is the “soil”, which provides the fertile ground for important value-adding “crops”, which in this case are applications and services including Public Safety, E-government, E-education, E-health, E-agriculture and so on.

We must keep enhancing the ICT infrastructure so that ICT services and applications can be more available, accessible and affordable to every ordinary citizen, and that these applications can enable the improvement of livelihoods, ease of doing business, and increase productivity.

How can we make cities smarter to better meet the needs of their growing urban populations for housing, transportation, energy systems and other infrastructure, as well as for employment and basic services such as education and health care?

First, the construction of smart cities is a giant system that interacts across systems and is a “system of systems”. It requires coordination across departments through the overall strategy and design, including setting goals, priorities, and implementation paths. This is essential rather than optional to ensure the system is designed in ways that are user-friendly, with appropriate technologies, and can be maintained, integrated with other systems and upgraded over time to be sustainable.

Second, taking a two-step approach starting with Public Safety and then moving to other aspects of the Smart City. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, safety and security together with food and water are basic needs for all human beings. For a country and its cells, “Cities”, there is also Maslow-like hierarchy of digital needs. Ensuring security is a basic requirement for a country or a city. It lays a solid foundation for a competitive nation and a dynamic city.

Building Sustainable and Resilient Cities, the theme for World Cities Day 2018, is a call to action for all of us to rethink how cities may become better places to protect and enhance people’s lives, leaving no one behind. By making cites safer and smarter, ICT actually increases cities’ attractiveness. A report launched recently by UN Habitat (‘The State of African Cities 2018: The geography of African Investment’) indicates that ICT and investment in African cities correlated to each other closely. The report highlights that improving ICT infrastructure is critical to attracting FDI, whilst the ICT industry itself is also a crucial sector for FDI, since it offers the highest growth rates and highest number of direct jobs along with manufacturing, and that the two are closely linked.

A lesson from the development of China, a country that fast forward 40 years and has become the world's second largest economy from one of the poorest, is that problems can be solved in the process of development. With the help of technologies and innovations, we can solve common problems facing cities such as traffic congestion, high unemployment, crime, and environmental degradation by making cities safer and smarter.

Address DRC- Uganda Boarder Conflicts Before They Escalate To Anarchy

"We are living in fear, our families back in Uganda don't know if we are alive or dead; when we were arrested, some of our colleagues tried to run away and were killed and us who survived have not made any contact with our families; we have been detained for more than two month and not taken to any court."  Narrates the three Ugandan fishermen, Mr. Wambale Brian 31 years, Musah George 68 and Patrick ... 42 who were arrested by the Congolese soldiers in July 2018. 

This revelation was given to me during my recent visit to the province of North Kivu in Goma DRC where I was invited to participate in a cross broader meeting under the Great Lakes Coalition for the Conservation of Natural Resources (GLCCNR) ( a loose coalition of CSOs from Uganda, Rwanda and DRC).  From the meeting, I was given a rare opportunity to visit them in one of the military barracks where they are being detained waiting to be transferred to Kinshasa, the capital of DRC. 

The three fishermen insist they were fishing on the Uganda waters but the Congolese soldiers rounded them up and arrested them while those who tried to ran away, were shot dead. They have not did not get the opportunity to bury their friends instead they are being locked in a military barracks in Congo leaving their families in agony of their whereabouts.   

The unfortunate incident happened in July 2018, when the Ugandan soldiers and that of the DRC engaged in fatal fights around Lake Edward, which saw over 37 Ugandans and Congolese nationals die or go missing. Among those who survived are Mr. Wambale Brian, Musa George and Patrick (I didn't get his second name clearly) but have little or no hope if they will ever come back home, Uganda. 

It is very unfortunate that the fishing conflict around Lake Edward, which runs along the border between southwestern Uganda and northeastern DRC, has continued to raise tensions over the years with each accusing the other of illegally fishing in their waters. These conflicts stands to betray the good neighborly relations between the two countries, which share several natural resources including Lake Albert, Lake Edward, the greater Virunga National Park, Queen Elizabeth national park among others. 

The DRC and Uganda governments have diplomatic relations and agreements governing the use and conservation of transboundary natural resources which include the Ngordoto agreement of 2007 on Bilateral relations, the 1986 Agreement on establishing a joint permanent cooperation, the 1990 agreement of cooperation for the explorations of hydrocarbons and exploitation of common fields and the Luanda the Luanda agreement on cooperation and normalization of relations 2002. 

All these agreement signed by both counties provide basis for the diplomatic relations to manage  solve the conflict on the boarder but they are not following. In fact, both countries are party to the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region under the frameworks of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). This pact, which binds both Uganda and the DRC to promote peace and development, which should be used to promote peace is being ignored by both governments, resulting in the death, arrests and detention of several nationals. 

The fact that both Uganda and the DRC are signatory to the above pact makes it incumbent upon them to use non-violence means in resolving conflicts and disputes, undertake mutual defense where necessary as opposed to fighting each other, fight against the illegal exploitation of natural resources, and not fight fishing communities and engage in judicial cooperation among others. 

Instead of finding amicable solutions to the challenges, the two neighboring countries have continued to have tense relationship at certain points in time the Congolese have accused Ugandan forces of encroaching on their territory, while Ugandan authorities have complained that the DRC does not do enough to fight militia activity near the border. These conflicts could escalate further and affect negatively on the ongoing oil developments in the region. 

These continuous conflicts could negatively impact on the Uganda's oil industry where government and oil companies are in the advanced stages of commencing oil production where a number of key oil infrastructure is being put in place including the Tilenga project located at the tail end of lake albert just about nearly 15 km to DRC. In addition, the planned crude oil pipeline, feeder pipelines, central processing facilities. These facilities will be located around or near the border with the DRC, which has had a bitter relationship on the shared resources. 

Therefore, the government of Uganda and DRC should honor the signed agreement and speed up the full implementation and compliance to protect the communities and developments along the border for the peaceful coexistence of the two countries. 

The two government take all the necessary efforts to demarcate the boarder and or harmonize the fishing laws used at the shared water bodies ensure that the fishermen who use the lake as a primary source of livelihoods understand and implement them. This will prevent future conflicts and arrests undermining the security of these countries.     

Finally, the two governments must use their diplomatic relations and unconditionally release the fishermen who have been arrested in specific countries so to release tension and have them united with their families. 

Samuel Okulony 

Programmes and research Coordinator 

Africa Institute for Energy Governance 

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

Oil Is Here, So Is Climate Change: What Do We Do About Them? 

By Michael Businge

Peter Ekai Lokoel, Deputy Governor Turkana in September 2014 said, “Climate Change is here with us. We cannot stop it. The only way is to see how to work around it.”

Over the past century, the average annual temperature on earth has increased, the oceans have warmed, snow and ice caps have diminished, and the sea levels have risen. Although evidence of climate change, and its causes, has been debated for more than two decades, there is now scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and is mainly due to human activity.

Climate change is being felt in countries throughout the world, from low-lying countries such as Bangladesh and Maldives, to temperate countries in the northern hemisphere, to countries in the tropics, including my own country, Uganda.

Climate scientists have attributed both the increasing frequency of specific extreme weather events (such as drought, flooding and heat shocks) and the slow but steady change in long term features of the environment (such as receding glaciers) to rising temperature caused predominantly by anthropogenic (i.e. human) sources. They predict that these, and other, observed climate changes will become more severe in coming years.

These changes in the climate are imposing an increasing burden on governments, especially in countries with limited resources, in their efforts to protect vulnerable populations. Changing precipitation patterns such as drought, and shorter but intense rainfall, can have negative direct impacts on health and contribute to desertification, flooding, low food production, food insecurity, migration and increased conflict, water scarcity.

Most of this is happening in Uganda. In 2016, storms that hit the western District of Buliisa left over 20 people dead and more than 50 missing. Property was destroyed and children resorted to studying under trees since class room blocks were destroyed due to the storm.

Indigenous populations, poor and socially marginalized individuals, women and people with disabilities are often most affected. Hoima District is no different from her neighbor, Buliisa. The crop yield, unbearable hot and conditions have been experienced over time, water levels in some areas has gone down, and animals have starved to death in some areas around Lake Albert basin. Climate change is posing particular risks to the rights to life, food, access to clean water, and health to vulnerable communities. 

It is now 10 years since commercial oil deposits were discovered in Uganda. One thing to note is that Hoima and Buliisa host oil wells. In fact, Buliisa District alone has got over 60 oil wells which were discovered near and around settlements, national park and in the game reserve but also along the shores of Lake Albert. These are ecologically sensitive areas with all unique species of flora and fauna.

It is a fact that oil activities impact nature, people and climate. Oil activities disrupt important ecosystems, endanger species of fauna and flora and degrade the quality of environment in some dimension. These range from aesthetic considerations to the massive toxic wastes generated through process water, drilling mud, and a myriad of other chemicals in the industry.

We are right now at a development phase where currently Uganda is undergoing significant developments in the exploitation of the oil resource. The transition of the country’s oil and gas sector from exploration and appraisal phase to the development phase means that Government and the Oil companies are in the process of putting in place infrastructure to enable production of the discovered oil resource. 

Major infrastructural developments such as the East African Crude Oil Pipeline, the Central Processing Facilities in Tilenga and Kingfisher, the Kabaale International Airport, feeder pipelines, critical oil roads and other sector related developments have posed changes in community set ups, raised some red flags in some areas and possible ecological footprint.

How then do we balance development, nature conservation or adopt and maybe mitigate climate change? How do we safeguard forests, fresh water bodies from destruction, maintain soil quality in areas where there is oil activities?

Countries with tropical or subtropical climates, including Uganda are projected to experience the effects of climate change most intensely, and low income countries are least able to prevent and prepare for the impact of climate change.

It has also been noted that 80% of Uganda’s population depends primarily on biomass to meet their household energy needs, and this has led to massive destruction of the forest  cover thus leading to occurrence of hazardous air pollutants in the atmosphere due to absence of forest cover which acts as carbon sinks. 

Indigenous people in Buliisa and Hoima who traditionally rely on natural sources for food, shelter and livelihood lack better infrastructure such as good roads, health centres and in cases of an eventuality, it makes it difficult to reach health centres in time for first aid or any kind of treatment. This creates a risk on people’s health yet the country’s health care system is already strained!

What then can we do? As Ugandans, we need to recognize that the changes in climate will likely impede the country’s ability to realize sustainable development. 

  • Local Governments should be empowered to mobilize, sensitize and support communities to participate in the planning and agreeing on the best climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.
  • We therefore need to build the capacity of local people to mitigate and adopt to climate change, a phenomenon that is with us!
  • Communities also need to come out and selfishly denounce activities that put environmental integrity to disrepute and then proactively engage in environmental conservation practices and management.
  • Implement laws, policies and regulations on regarding environment management. The environmental monitoring plans on Oil, Gas need the participation of the local people since they are interact with the environment in their areas on a day to day basis.
  • There is need to assess the impact so far caused by climate change and identify individuals and communities that are most vulnerable, and then taking steps to reduce on the vulnerability.
  • For development projects, environmental standards should be followed during project implementation.
  • Government needs to do more to monitor oil activities, design strategies and incorporate these strategies in order to reduce ecological footprint.
  • Government needs to ensure meaningful participation and put out relevant information about climate change so as informed decisions can be taken on climate change from the local to the national levels.
  • Local Governments at District levels need to develop climate change adaptation and mitigation plans which are in accordance to the national Adaptation plans. And partnerships at the District and national levels needs to be enhanced for possible collaboration and funding on mitigation and adaptation measures for climate change.
  • We need to improve on water harvesting capacity, efficient and sustainable use of water resources, practice good soil and water conservation strategies especially for the farmers.
  • Embark on massive indigenous tree planting.

Environment is life! There is no more time left, we need to act together now to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change but also harness the oil resource for sustainable development of our communities. 

The writer is a coordinator of a CSO Network in Bunyoro working on issues of Petroleum and Environment

 

OIL ECONOMY: How Can Uganda Benefit From Its Forth Coming Oil Boom?

By Magara Siragi Luyima 

After the initial exploration of oil and gas that ended in 2014, with a confirmed commercial discovery estimated at 6.5 billion barrels of oil, of which 1.4 billion are recoverable,Ugandan government has embarked on the development phase and has finalized plans to invest $800m (about UGX2.9 trillion) in the 1,445 kilometres long East African Crude oil pipeline (EACOP) and refinery projects which will guarantee realization of first oil in 2020 at the earliest after their completion.

According to the New Vision newspaper dated Monday 27, 2017 ,page 3, the government of Uganda plans to invest $500m into the refinery project (40% share) and $300m in the EACOP (15% share). The main funders of the projects will be the international oil companies such as Total and CNOOC as well Tanzania government. All these activities are a pre-cursor to oil production likely to start in 2020-2021.

Significant amounts of revenues and taxes are generated at all stages of the petroleum value-chain and these include signature bonuses, royalties, exploration fees, development fees, rents, fees on permits, Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on transfer of interests and assets, government’s profit share on production, and revenues and taxes at the refining, gas processing and conversion, transportation and storage of petroleum and its associated products, bi-products and wastes.

Additional taxes to these revenue streams include income tax, With Holding Tax (WHT), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Value Added Tax (VAT), Import Duty, Stamp Duty, Service Tax, among others. It is thus anticipated that Uganda will generate about US$3-3.5 billion annually at peak production (2029-2045) and research has indicated that Uganda’s GDP will have doubled by 2025. Indeed, World Bank estimates that oil production could increase total government revenue from the current 13% of GDP to about 18% on average for more than 20 years.

However, with doubling of the size of the economy (GDP growth rate average of 10% from the current 4%) which may not be backed by equally competent citizenry to support the economy through proportionate innovation and invention, engagement in reasonable productive activities, Uganda may not reap big from its oil sector. This is because failure to match production with the size of GDP may cause distortionary effects on the economy including hyperinflation which may hinder investments as well as further economic growth. 

In addition, such situation is indeed ripe to cause a boom-bust economy as it occurred to Nauru Islands which had a per capita income of $40,000 in 1980 at the start of mineral production and reduced significantly to $2000 in the year 2000 after depletion of the resource.

According to the oil and Gas policy of 2008, oil revenue will be used for infrastructure development and not recurrent expenditure. Whereas this is a good move, there is need to consider the fact that Ugandans are equally an important resource who must have the capacity to put to use the entire infrastructure put up by the government using proceeds from oil.

For instance it doesn't make better sense for so many roads connecting different villages to be tarmacked if the residents cannot afford cars to drive on such roads. Relatedly, extending hydro electricity to all villages is a wise move however connecting such power in grass houses is not only risky but defeats the analogy of modernization as orchestrated by NRM government from time to time.

It therefore important to put human resource development at the forefront such that Ugandan citizens are better positioned to fit in the oil economy boom when production commences and henceforth avoid the ‘resource curse’ that has eluded many African countries such as DRC, Equatorial Guinea,and Angola among others..

The fact that oil and gas are non-renewable and finite resources Uganda needs to ensure that oil and gas resources are managed efficiently and managing them in a manner that will create lasting benefits to society.Thus there is a need for deliberate plan for the emergency of new industries, such as chemicals, fertilizers, cement etc.  These industries are new to Ugandans therefore government needs to render a hand in building the capacity of Ugandans to take up such subsidiary industries which will support the economy.

There is also need to address key bottlenecks to sector growth in agriculture, manufacturing, mining and tourism through investing oil proceeds in infrastructure, better healthcare and quality education to develop the human capital with adequate and employable skills suitable for the oil economy.

There is strong need to build strong transparent accountability systems and a conducive environment for private sector development so that natural resource rents are invested to create other forms of capital.

In conclusion, failure to address the human resource challenges, oil revenue management transparency and accountability gaps, it will be impossible for Uganda to eliminate the ‘resource curse’ and there will be a high likelihood that oil revenues will not be used properly and/or will not impact positively on the lives of ordinary Ugandans.

The writer is the Chairperson, Oil Revenue Tracking and Management Thematic Group, Civil Society Coalition on Oil and Gas in Uganda (CSCO). He is an Economist and Lecturer of Economics at IUIU.

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Oil And Gas Activities Call For More Environmental Protection

By Sandra Atusinguza

Recently Uganda joined the world to celebrate the Environment day in Mbale district under the theme “Beat plastic pollution” with focus on alternatives to avoidable single use of polythene bags known as ‘Buvera’ which has become a menace to the environment .

This is a great milestone to environmental conservation once achieved, the rate at which our environment is polluted is very high with increased industrialization and poor waste disposal of garbage and plastics which end up in water channels, trenches, wet lands as they have currently been known as “waste lands” in most towns country wide among other factors. This calls for countrywide mass sensitizations on usage and disposal. There have been efforts to ban plastic bag use or recycle it for the past 4years but it has not been fully achieved to date hence environment at stake.

Previous reports also indicate poor waste management and disposal of oil and gas waste in the Albertine graben where at Ngara1 site which was managed by Tullow oil, the solid waste was heaped on the ground and covered with black polythene material while the liquid waste was kept in large pits lined on the sides with black polythene, some other pits were covered with iron sheets, and other open hence raising fears of possible air pollution a potential health risks to residents.

Communities especially in Buliisa district have also expressed fears of the oil and gas hazardous waste could damage the environment in case of spills along the way as it is transported to the dumping and waste management sites. In 2009, Heritage Oil illegally buried truckloads of oil waste in Nwoya county, in the then Amuru district, little did the country know that it was the beginning of a bigger ‘oil waste management crisis’. Five years later, the oil frontline districts of Buliisa and Nwoya continue to witness other incidents of oil waste dumping.

To add on that, with the current production phase with many development infrastructures set like the oil pipelines, C.P.F, critical oil roads among other developments, areas where oil and gas activities are taking places could be affected by climate change due to emissions from waste causing soil and air pollution thus lowering the quality of air, acidic rains due to the presence of carbon monoxide, nitric oxide and sulfur oxide which pollute

Despite governments’ effort through NEMA to authorizing petroleum waste management firms like Enviro serve, White Nile and Luwero industries and enacting environmental and bio diversity tools like Albertine graben environmental sensitive atlas, Environmental monitoring plan for the Albertine graben, among other actions several laws must be strict enough on waste management and pollution with incentives and penalties based on enforcement of legislation, polices to discourage bad practices on environment in the oil and gas sector. More community awareness and sensitizations efforts need on oil and environment so as to enable them hold duty bearers and key stakeholders in the oil and gas industry accountable.

Atusinguza Sandra - AFIEGO –FIELD OFFICER

 

Why You Should Choose Health, Not Tobacco

By Dr. Anne Muli, Ph.D

Victoria University Kampala

 

On 31st May, a 24-hour abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption around the globe is encouraged as the world observes World No Tobacco Day. The day is intended to highlight the negative health risks associated with tobacco use.

The 2018 theme “Tobacco Breaks Hearts” is to raise awareness to the public on the impact tobacco has on cardiovascular (heart) health. Knowledge among large sections of the public of the impact of tobacco use on heart health is low thus the focus of this year’s theme.

Globally, tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke exposure is one of the leading contributors to heart disease and contributes to approximately 12% of all heart disease deaths. Unknown to many, heart disease kills more people than any other cause of death worldwide and the intention of this year’s theme is to bring to attention that smoking tobacco and exposure to second-hand smoke contributes to heart disease.

Tobacco smoke possesses high levels of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide affects the heart by reducing the amount of oxygen the blood is able to carry. This means that the heart, lungs, brain, and other vital organs do not always receive enough oxygen to perform everyday functions. At the same time, nicotine causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.

Over time, this causes extraordinary "wear and tear" on the cardiovascular system. People who use tobacco are more likely to have heart attacks, high blood pressure, blood clots, strokes, hemorrhages, aneurysms, and other disorders of the cardiovascular system.Smoking actually triples the risk of dying from heart disease.

Cigarette smoking is a major cause of stroke by increasing clotting factors in the blood, decreasing HDL cholesterol levels, increasing triglyceride levels, and damaging the lining of blood vessels. The risk for stroke increases as the number of cigarettes smoked increases.

What about second-hand smoke?

Second-hand smoke represents a more formidable problem than many people realize. Second-hand smoke is a combination of the smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar and the smoke exhaled from the lungs of smokers.

There is no evidence of a safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke. In fact, long-term exposure to second-hand smoke has been shown to cause a 30% increase in the risk of heart disease in non-smokers. It is estimated that 37,000 heart disease deaths per year are caused by exposure to second-hand smoke.

Exposure to second-hand smoke also negatively affects cardiovascular health by decreasing exercise endurance, damaging blood vessel walls, and increasing the tendency of blood platelets to clot, contributing to heart attacks. Furthermore, nonsmokers’ bodies tend to react more dramatically to tobacco exposure than do smokers’ bodies, so lower levels of smoke can cause adverse effects.

Situation in Uganda

In 2007 Uganda became a party to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the first international public health treaty adopted under the auspices of WHO.

Its intention is to reduce the growth and spread of the global tobacco epidemic and protection of the public from exposure to tobacco smoke through actions such as tax and price measures to reduce tobacco consumption; comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising sponsorship and promotion; prominent health warnings on tobacco packaging; smoke-free work and public spaces and measures to reduce the smuggling of tobacco products.

Additionally, Uganda has a strong Tobacco Control Act passed in 2015. The act includes a comprehensive ban on smoking in all public areas and all forms of tobacco advertisement, promotion, and sponsorship. However despite the policies in place, tobacco smoking in Uganda is still rife. It is estimated that about 1 in every 10 Ugandans use tobacco products daily.

Therefore we have a large population at risk of heart disease and other diseases due to smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke. This year’s World No Tobacco day theme is very timely. Let us all join hands to choose health, not tobacco.

Dr. Anne Muli (Ph.D.) is a Public Health Practitioner and Lecturer at Victoria University.

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