Kayla Namulondo

Kayla Namulondo

Protecting Environment Is A Matter Of Life And Death, Says Museveni

President Yoweri Museveni emphasized that protecting the environment is a matter of life and death for humanity cautioning that ‘we must do all it takes to protect the environment lest we perish.’ The president was speaking as guest of honor during World Environment Day celebrations in Ibanda District on Monday.

“All those interfering with nature are doing a great disservice to themselves and will ultimately pay a heavy price. God created for us a wonderful environment to live in but by degrading it, we are going against his will. Water is our life and we should not interfere with anything to do with water or the environment.

“We have not had enough rains for the last two seasons in Uganda and experts attribute it to the attack on the environment by people who invaded wetlands, forests, lakes and rivers that contribute 40% of the rains we get and we can’t go on like that,” he added.

The President, therefore, said that government is soon amending and strengthening the environment protection law to ensure that nobody should do any activity in a radius of 50 meters from a river bank, 200 meters from a lake shore and advised all people living or practicing agriculture in wetlands and forestry reserves, to leave them peacefully.

Important for tourism

Museveni further said that protecting the environment is also important for tourism noting that the sector earns the country much more foreign exchange than most economic activities the country is engaged in.

The President, who described the environment as the genetic bank, appealed to all citizens of Uganda to prioritize environmental protection for the good of the current and future generations. He emphasized that they ought treat whoever is attacking the environment as their number one enemy.

Rain catchment areas

The Minister of Water and Environment, Sam Cheptoris, said that wetlands, forests and water bodies are important rain catchment areas and that whoever attacked them in a country like Uganda that is largely agricultural and dependent on rainfall, must be resisted.

On behalf of the United Nations, the United Nations Development Program Country Director, Ms. Rosa Malanga, said that humanity must find ways of connecting with nature, protect it, respect it and safeguard the world heritage. She commended Uganda for being one of the few countries that have put in place a legal framework to protect the environment.

The French Ambassador to Uganda, Ms. Stephanie Rivoal, noted that humanity shares the same planet and there must be a collective duty to protect it selfishly for the sake of the future generations.

She said that the planet belongs to nobody but to everybody and it is, therefore, a duty of everybody to ensure that it is safe for humanity. She appealed to developed countries who contributed greatly to climate change to take a leading role in mitigating the causes of climate change.

Premier Rugunda Speaks Out On Uganda’s Oil, Mineral Development

The prime minister of Uganda RT. Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda has reiterated government desire to fully exploit natural resources sustainably to benefit all Ugandans.

In this slightly edited speech which the Prime Minister delivered at the two day 6th Joint Sector Review for the Energy and Mineral Development Sector at Speke Resort Hotel, Munyonyo, on 25th – 26th August 2016, Hon Rugunda emphasizes government’s plans to get the best of the natural resources spread across the country. Read on.

The Prime Ministers speech

It is my pleasure to preside over the opening ceremony of the 6th Joint Sector Review for the Energy and Mineral Development Sector. I am aware that this forum brings together key stakeholders who will review the Performance of the Sector for the Financial Year 2015/16, assess the extent of progress for the jointly Agreed Undertakings, the challenges faced, make appropriate recommendations and measures to address the challenges. In addition the Review shall inform the budgeting process for the Financial Year 2017/18.

I note that the theme for this year’s Review is “Towards a Middle Income status with Sustainable Development of Energy and Mineral Resources”. This theme rhymes well with NRM Government Strategic Direction of achieving a Middle Income status by the year 2020.

I also note the policy objective on energy is to ensure adequate and reliable supply of energy to support social and economic growth, while the policy objective on the mineral sector is to explore, increase ore reserves and promote value addition of mineral ores in order to stimulate industrial growth and to create employment.

In the Petroleum sector, Policy Goal is to use the country’s oil and gas resources to contribute to early achievement of poverty eradication and create lasting value to society. All these policy objectives are in line with the attainment of a middle income status.

In other words, we want to use our natural resources as engines for growth. You will all appreciate that investment cannot come into the country if there is no supporting infrastructure that lower the cost of doing business. Infrastructure development like electricity generation, transmission and distribution can only be enhanced when we, as Government, save money to invest and also entice our development partners to provide reasonably priced capital for project development.

Investment in energy, oil and gas, and mineral infrastructure remains a top Government priority. Government is committed to providing resources to the sector as the financial situation improves to match the demand arising from population growth and economic development needs.

Electricity generation

Government has continued to register further positive developments in the Energy and Mineral sector. Power generation projects including the 600 MW Karuma Hydropower and the 183 MW Isimba Hydropower project are in the development phase. In addition, under the Global Energy Transfer Feed in Tariff program, government is undertaking the development of seventeen (17) small-scale renewable energy generation projects which will also add 150.8 MW.

In order to improve power service delivery and cover most of the countryside with the grid network, Government has put emphasis on connecting electricity to district headquarters, productive centers like factories and trading centers and social services such as health centers, educational instructions and water supply points.

I am informed that 108 out of the operational 112 district in Uganda are supplied with electricity. During this financial year works will commence to connect the districts of Nwoya, Kaabong and Kotido. Buvuma District will be covered next financial year.

As most of us appreciate, the major constraint to accessing electricity is the inability, mainly of the rural and peri-urban dwellers, to afford connection costs. The NRM Government, together with some Development Partners, started a subsidy scheme to ease the burden of the high upfront connection costs. With the availability of this subsidy scheme the connections have increased.

Oil and Gas development

In the Oil and Gas sub-sector, the first phase for the refinery, of 30,000 barrels per day is expected to be in place by 2020/2021. Implementation processes are on-going for the development of a 60,000 barrels per day petroleum refinery in a phased manner starting with 30,000 barrels per day, crude oil feeder pipelines from the oil fields to an oil hub near the refinery, a 1445km long, 24-inch diameter crude oil export pipeline, and a 211 km long 12-inch diameter pipeline from the refinery to a storage terminal to be developed North-West of Kampala Capital city.

The acquisition of 29.5km2 of land to accommodate a petrochemical-based industrial park has been completed. The park will include a refinery, a crude oil export hub, an international Airport, logistics systems, utilities, and other petrochemical industries. A masterplan for the development of the industrial park is expected to be completed by February 2017. Also, an integrated infrastructure corridor which will accommodate a pipeline, a highway, Power Transmission and ICT infrastructure cable systems is being planned, from the industrial park at Kabaale in Hoima to Kampala.

The Minister has already discussed the progress made to grant Production Licences to existing Oil Companies as well as the eminent grant of Exploration Licences to new oil companies. This should be expedited

Addressing mining sector constraints

In the Mineral Sub-sector, the NRM government has intensified efforts to strengthen capacity of the mineral sector so as to address sectoral constraints i.e. the fiscal regime and the mining legislation to enable the sector to be attractive to investment.

Government is now reviewing the mining legislation and has increased monitoring and inspection of mining operations so that we can streamline the emerging sector challenges like speculation and mineral smuggling.

Government has already made good progress on geo-scientific surveys, human resources development and equipping the Institutions with tools for acquisition and management of geo-scientific data, and analytical laboratories that has enabled new mineral discoveries.

Arising out of the recent airborne geophysical surveys and ground follow-up geological mapping as well as mineral exploration, ore reserves of mineral deposits in the country have significantly increased.

For example, over 200 million tons of iron ore have been discovered in Southwestern Uganda as compared to the 3 million tons which was known to occur at Muko in Kabale and Kisoro districts. Over 300 million tons of limestone / marble have been proven in Karamoja region.

Vermiculite reserves have increased from 5 million tons to 54.9 million tons in Namekhala in Manafwa district. Several new mineral targets have been mapped in the country. These include Gold, Nickel, Platinum, Rare Earth Elements, Bentonite clays, among others.

Land disputes

Acquisition of land for infrastructure development projects still remains a challenge. There are delays arising from land owners who either oppose accessing their land or dispute the land rates recommended by the office of the Chief Government Valuer.

These disputes lead to escalating costs of the projects. This shows that the Land Law in the country may be a constraint to investment. I, therefore, strongly support and urge the Minister responsible for lands to conclusively come out with a solution to this problem.

I also wish to urge the local authorities to actively facilitate the acquisition of land for infrastructure projects in their areas so that there is timely implementation of the projects.

  1. Government is committed to developing the energy and mineral infrastructure in a prudent manner that follows the required international practice, including competitive participation from investors, service providers and contractors.

We, therefore, encourage potential investors, private sector developers, and our Development Partners to give support to develop energy projects as private or under a public – private partnership arrangement.

As I conclude, I wish to commend the Ministry for having a forum which enables us to achieve sound principles of good governance. I wish to emphasize that feedback is a critical element of service delivery. There should be appropriate feedback on implementation, monitoring and evaluation.


IRENA Conference To Drive Off-Grid Energy Agenda

The third International Off-grid Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition (IOREC) will bring together policy makers, private sector leaders, financiers, and development institutions to push forward the global off-grid agenda at a high level meeting which will sit in Nairobi, Kenya from 30 September to 1 October 2016.

The third International Off-grid Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition (IOREC), organised by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in partnership with the Kenyan Ministry of Energy and Petroleum and the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE), aims to improve electricity access by scaling up off-grid renewables.

The Director General of International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Adnan Z Amin believes that achieving 100 per cent electricity access by 2030 will require the pace of electricity expansion to nearly double – but this has never been more possible. The conference in Kenya’s capital will therefore look into how this can be expedited.

“Dramatic cost reductions in recent years have made renewable technologies the most economic option for off-grid electrification – even cheaper than diesel-fired generation or kerosene-based conventional lighting in majority of contexts. Off-grid renewables can spur socio-economic growth while also contributing to multiple Sustainable Development Goals." Amin said in a statement released early this month announcing the conference.

The conference this year will focus on four overarching themes: stand-alone systems for rapid expansion of electricity access; technology innovation to unlock new opportunities; mini-grid development to meet growing demand; and socio-economic benefits of off-grid renewable energy system deployment. Participants will share experiences and best practices on the design and implementation of enabling policies, tailored financing schemes, innovative business models, and technology applications to boost off-grid development.

"A growing number of governments, businesses and individuals are recognising the potential of off-grid renewables as a solution to energy access issues,” said Mr. Amin. “In 2015, USD 276 million was invested in the off-grid solar sector alone, a 15-fold increase over 2012. We now must further accelerate off-grid renewable energy deployment, not just for access, but for economic prosperity and poverty eradication."


7 Ways Government Can Address Electricity And Oil Development Challenges

Early this week, Non-Government Organization (NGO), Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), in an open letter addressed to The President of the Republic Of Uganda H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni proposes key issues that must be addressed in order to maximize electricity and oil benefits for the citizens.

In the letter AFIEGO tells the president how corruption, lack of respect for existing laws, secrecy in licensing processes, failure to conduct regular audits, political manipulations, tax exemptions and total lack of good governance are impediments to the energy sector. Below are measures AFIEGO believes can improve the energy sector. 

Production licenses: You need to appreciate that the oil sector is very technical and requires high levels of skills. For this matter, the government should operationalize the Petroleum Authority and support it to take responsibility of approving or disapproving the issuance of both exploration and production licenses as well negotiation of PSAs. This will allow the technocrats to do the real job and the politicians can use their powers to supervise the authority.  

Value for money audit regarding rural electrification: Before borrowing the $71m from the World bank, first conduct an independent audit to establish whether the citizens have been benefiting from the previous investments.  The audit should address the issue regarding the impact of current tariffs on the poor and how best the poor can use the current electricity to improve their lives. It should also provide recommendations such as the use of off-grid electricity such as solar, wind, biogas and others to meet some the energy needs by the poor and isolated communities.  

Access to information regarding a refinery and pipeline as Uganda’s oil development options: Government should make public, information regarding the economic logic for Uganda to build both a refinery and a pipeline. What are the advantages and disadvantages of building a pipeline alone and or a refinery only or building both a refinery and a pipeline at the same time? The government should not commence transactions to spend billions of dollars before providing evidence to the citizens to support the social, environmental, economic and political benefits of such projects. 

The cost of Karuma and Isimba dams: While we are still stuck with the high costs of Bujagali dam, there is fear that both Karuma and Isimba dams are the most expensive dams in Africa. Today, Ethiopia is building a 6,000wm dam at a cost of $4.8 billion while our Karuma dam of 600mw will cost $1.7 billion. There is for the government to work with the parliament to investigate the cost and quality of the two dams.

High costs of dams and corruption in distribution is the reason why 35 million Ugandans cannot consume 850mw during off-peak time. Without transparency, government will struggle to get consumers for Karuma and Isimba power but whether we consume it or not, as tax payers, we shall be compelled to pay the returns on investments that are always guaranteed by our government.

Indeed, building a dam is important but ensuring that the cost is competitive both nationally and internationally-(a factor that is always ignored by our government), is the most important. Even the East African and African power pools will help us if our power is too expensive. So, we need to investigate and close the gaps. 

Power as a big factor of production: Government must appreciate that the current crisis facing the business community who are asking for bail out are symptoms of deeper problems ranging from high costs of production. Companies like Uchum closed but as a country, we did not care investigate why they closed. Now, our own are closing and we think the solution is bail out. Bailing out is good but if its done before addressing the defects in production factors such as the cost of electricity, it will not help.    

Mortgaging oil: We are concerned that since the discovery of oil in 2006, the borrowing by the government has continued to increase steadily and it is clear that other than oil, we don’t have any other source to generate money to pay back the billions of dollars being accumulated in debts. So, it is logical to conclude that the government is borrowing against the oil that is still underground, and this is a big mistake. These are the mistakes that explain why majority African oil producing countries the biggest indebted governments in the world.  Let’s not take Uganda to that direction. 

Off-grid electricity solutions: The government, instead of spending billions of money to extend grid power to isolated and rural poor communities, it should invest in solar, wind, biogas and other renewable technologies to provide clean energy to households where they will not be required to pay monthly bills. After all, the available evidence indicate that that even those who have grid power, they use less than 15 Kwh units per month and these can be supplied by off-grid technologies.

In effect, grid power should ring fenced for industrial parks and areas where a lot of electricity is needed for manufacturing.  But for off-grid to reach every corner and household in Uganda, our government must take a deliberate step to invest in the subsector and not leave it completely to private companies. It is also necessary that those managing the off grid and grid power projects connect to avoid wastes.

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