Energy Ministry Should Desist From Licencing Out Ngaji Oil Block

By Edwin Mumbere

On July 8th, 2020, the coalition bringing together Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and members of Kasese women and youth clean energy clubs held a meeting at the office of Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) in Kasese. 

The objective of the meeting was to discuss the fact that the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Hon. Mary Kitutu informed the country that Uganda will launch a second licensing round for oil blocks and with a deadline of  September 30th 2020. 

The coalition of Kasese women and youth clean energy clubs brings together women and youth clubs in addition to CSOs that are promoting environmental conservation in Kasese through enabling community access to clean energy. 

The coalition and its members are opposed to the exploitation of dirty energy such as oil in protected areas as this results in environmental degradation, destroys biodiversity, harms community livelihoods through the loss of jobs in the fishing and tourism sectors and others. 

The coalition and its members, therefore, the campaign against government plans to explore for oil in Lake Edward, a Ramsar site, Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP), a Human and Biosphere Reserve, and other protected areas in Kasese and the Greater Virunga landscape at large. 

The information that the coalition gathered is that five exploration blocks including some that were leftover from the last competitive licencing round of 2016 will be put up for bidding on September 2020. Ngaji block was one of these blocks. Owing to the community, CSO and international pressure, oil companies feared to bid for the block, and rightly so. 

Ngaji oil block, which covers Lake Edward and QENP, serves economic, social, cultural and aesthetic purposes that no amount of money from oil exploitation can replace. 

Moreover, the government is already destroying other critical ecosystems by allowing polluting oil activities in Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP), giving away forest lands to squatters and investors to develop tax centres among others, allowing sand mining and rice growing in lakes and wetlands such as Lwera and others. 

After degrading our environment, government issues Ugandans with warnings to prepare for famine such as the one that was issued on April 3, 2019. 

This is unacceptable and through this petition, we are calling on the Minister of Energy to desist from putting up Ngaji oil block for bidding. 

We are also calling on Members of Parliament (MPs) from Kasese, Rukungiri, Rubirizi, Kanungu, Ibanda, Mitooma and Kamwenge among others to demand that the Ministry of Energy does not put up the oil block for bidding. We explain why below:

  1. a) Environmental degradation: Between February 27 and March 1, 2019, CSOs, youth and women belonging to our coalition visited the oil region and interacted with oil-affected communities from Hoima, Buliisa, Kikuube, Nwoya and other districts. Our visit was supported by AFIEGO. The communities we visited told us that massive vegetation clearing for oil infrastructure, development of big roads through eco-sensitive areas such as MFNP and increase in human-wildlife conflict characterise oil exploitation activities. The communities decried the destruction of their environment and those from Nwoya told us that when oil exploration started, more elephants started invading and destroying their gardens. Communities, therefore, had ill will towards conservation because animals were destroying their crops. 
  2. b) Rise in charcoal and food trade: In addition, we were informed that construction of oil roads such as the Hoima Kaiso-Tonya road resulted in increased charcoal trade and therefore tree burning. With increased traffic on the roads comes increasing markets for charcoal. As such, the environment is being destroyed as communities engage in the charcoal trade. We were also informed that due to the rising food market because of an increasing population in the oil region, communities were increasingly exerting pressure on eco-sensitive areas as they seek land to grow food for sale. 
  3. c) Poor compensation: We were also informed that communities affected by land acquisitions for an oil refinery, central processing facilities (CPFs), roads and other mega oil infrastructure in Hoima and Buliisa were given low compensation. This did not only result in many community members becoming poorer, it also increases pressure on eco-sensitive areas as poorly compensated communities encroach on protected areas that are not well-policed. 
  4. d) Fears over loss of fishing jobs: The fishing communities that we interacted with were fearful that they would lose their fishing jobs due to oil activities on Lake Albert. They said that the lake provides fish and income to the young and old but because of oil activities, communities feared that they would be stopped from using the lake. 
  5. e) Poorly conducted ESIAs: Communities also informed us that government tells them that it will be able to avoid, minimise or mitigate oil impacts on the environment through conducting and implementing Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) studies. However, communities told us that the conduct of ESIA is ignored as happened in the oil refinery project, oil activities such as land acquisitions commence before ESIAs are conducted and that community views are largely ignored in ESIA processes. This compromises conservation efforts. 
  6. f) Oil activities against Paris Climate Change Agreement: The community testimonies convinced us more than ever that Uganda will not exploit oil without experiencing oil impacts such as environmental degradation, loss of jobs which cannot be replaced by the oil sector, poverty, food insecurity, water scarcity, increased disease burden, loss of cultures, increased marginalisation of women, conflicts and others seen in countries such as Nigeria, Ecuador and others. We resolved to petition you, the Minister of Energy, and our MPs to ensure that Lake Edward and QENP are protected from oil activities. 
  7. g) Moreover, oil activities are against Uganda’s Nationally Determined Commitments (NDCs) on climate change and the Paris Climate Change Agreement that seek to lower carbon emissions to reduce global warming. We, however, have the following recommendations;

 (i) We call upon the government, through the Minister of Energy, to desist from putting up Ngaji oil block for licencing on May 8, 2019. Enough is enough! The president and his government have severally told Ugandans that they are pro-environmental conservation. In fact, one of the resolutions that the NRM Central Executive Committee (CEC) came up with a following a meeting at Chobe Safari Lodge in Nwoya district in February 2019 was that NRM would work for “environmental conservation, as part of a fundamental push to roll back and mitigate the effects of climate change.” Exploiting oil is against this resolution. The government should not destroy our environment, contribute to climate change through oil exploitation efforts and then tell us to prepare for famine! 

(ii) Further, MPs from Kasese, Rukungiri, Rubirizi, Kanungu, Mitooma, Ibanda and Kamwenge should demand that the Ministry of Energy does not put up Ngaji oil block for licencing. Oil exploitation should not be allowed in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Edward and other protected areas. 

(iii) In addition, we call upon parliament to ensure that the ongoing amendments to the Land Acquisition Act of 1965 by the Ministry of Lands ensure that compensation challenges are addressed. MPs should make sure that the amended Land Acquisition Act sets stiff penalties for government failure to pay adequate compensation and that the act defines what prompt, fair and adequate compensation is. This will help communities which are suffering because of under-compensation while also reducing the pressure exerted on eco-sensitive areas due to under-compensation. 

(iv) Further, the Ministry of Water and Environment, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and the National Forestry Authority (NFA) among other stakeholders should ensure that the environment is protected amidst oil threats. Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries should ensure that fisheries and fishing communities’ jobs are protected. 

(v) Government, through the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), should scale up implementation of the ‘Free’ Electricity Connections Policy (ECP) of 2018. The free connections that communities need are not those that involve being connected to the grid yet they cannot afford to pay hydro-electricity bills. Communities need off-grid solar energy. REA should, therefore, connect the 1.9 million households and more to off-grid solutions as is aspired to under the ECP. This policy was launched by the government in Kasese in August 2018 and its implementation should be scaled up to enable communities to get connected to solar. Ministry of Energy should pursue this alternative instead of seeking to exploit oil to ostensibly help Ugandans access modern energy among others. 

(vi) Further, government including the president, Ministry of Energy and Ministry of Water and Environment among other stakeholders must implement commitments made under the Paris Climate Change Agreement and Uganda’s NDCs on climate change. Exploiting Uganda’s oil resources is against the Paris Climate Change Agreement and Uganda’ NDCs whose overall goal is to curb global warming. Citizens and development partners should hold government accountable to implement the Paris Climate Change Agreement and Uganda’s NDCs. 

(vii) Finally, development partners should support Uganda to invest in solar projects and to realise lower electricity tariffs to minimise the environmental impacts that arise because of a lack of access to clean energy. 

Edwin Mumbere is a climate change activist

 

Why Oil Revenue Resources May Not Spur Uganda Into A Middle Income Country

By Patrick Edema

Uganda expects to begin producing oil in 2023, and it is anticipated that the government will earn significant revenues from the inflow of oil funds. If collected and utilized responsibly, generated revenues have the potential to uplift Uganda’s economic growth and development.

However, the government has been accused of misuse and violations of oil revenue laws. For instance, contrary to Section 58 of the Public Finance Management Act 2015, the government withdrew UGX 125 billion in 2017 and UGX 200 billion from the Petroleum Fund before parliamentary approval. The money was used to finance deficits of the 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 budget. It is also clear that the government further withdrew UGX 445 billion to finance deficits of FY 2019/2020.

This was a violation of Section 59(3) of the PFMA of 2015 which provides that oil revenue will only be used for infrastructural and other development purposes only. Further, since 2008, the government has earned over $1 billion from signature bonuses, CGT and other oil revenue sources but the government cannot account for most of this money. This non-compliance with a binding law creates suspicion that the NDP III will not achieve the expected targets for 2021-2025 in Uganda’s transformative vision 2040. 

As Uganda works towards achieving middle-income status, the National Development Plan is capturing every single important statistic that oil and gas will propel Uganda to middle-income status as well as overall achievement of the country’s 2040 vision. But on August 30, 2016, the Ugandan government allotted Tullow Oil Company with five production licenses while Total was given three. This brings the number of production licenses issued to nine after Uganda had offered one to the Chinese National Offshore oil company (CNOOC). And what one is asking is how much money Uganda has earned from the oil sector for the last eight years or so and what that money has been used for. How much of this is kept on which account? The few times the oil-money issue has been discussed is when Uganda won a dispute against Heritage Oil company and another case against Tullow Oil.

The World Bank report (2015) indicates that Uganda’s GDP currently stands at $ 26.37 billion with GDP value representing 0.04 per cent of the world economy. As a country, we predict GDP enhancement when oil production starts. It is unfortunate that NDP III will not register the expected success if there is no transparency and accountability in oil and gas sector to ensure that resource wealth is managed for the benefit of the whole nation.

The government further implements environmental laws such as the Environmental Act 2018, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations  1998 that are required to guide in the Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIA) processes of oil projects. For instance NEMA issued a certificate of approval under violations of the laws NEMA and PAU are violated Regulation 22(2) which requires public hearings to be organised between 30 and 45 days from the last day NEMA receives comments from the public. 

Therefore, disregard of the law by NEMA and PAU harms public confidence in government’s ability to enforce laws in the oil sector to protect the environment, communities and the public.  For example, the Tilenga oil project is being developed in one of the most bio diverse areas in Africa.  River Nile, Lake Albert, Murchison Falls National Park and Budongo in addition to Bugungu and Karuma Game Reserves are key national and transboundary ecosystems that are going to be affected by the Tilenga oil project and the public needs to trust that government will follow the law to protect the environment for the common good. For the NDPIII to achieve its required target of increased household incomes and improved quality of life, government should enforce the environmental laws since the majority of the population depends on agriculture.

With the main goal of the expected Uganda’s National Development Plan (NDP), 2020/2021 -2024/2025 “increase household incomes and improved quality of life” by 2025 through delivering higher economic growth rates, higher GDP per capita and lower poverty rates while reducing vulnerability as well as income disparities between regions and between population segments, there is also need to implement the local content policy if Uganda is to register success of third National Development Plan.

The theory behind local content laws and policies is to encourage the use of local labor, goods and services in the oil and gas industry. But there is a gap between theory and practice. Unfortunately, this gap currently exists in Uganda with poor infrastructure and lack of skills being two of the practical stumbling blocks in building local content, oil and gas companies having to invest time and resources in training local populations and building infrastructure to handle logistical issues.

And notwithstanding the good intentions of the Ugandan Government, the legal and regulatory framework on local content in Uganda is still weak because neither the current nor the proposed regulatory framework on local content provides for clear roles of the various stakeholders in the petroleum industry, timelines for the implementation of local content legislation or policy statements have not been provided, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to ensure compliance have not been factored in and no definite goals have been set for the achievement of the identified local content objectives.

With the development strategy of the NDP III tailored towards unbalanced growth path entailing focusing on the available limited resources, oil and gas will play a catalytic role of providing the needed resources for increasing productivity in all the sectors through human capital investment, developing complementary infrastructure needed by the private sector, promoting industrial development and manufacturing of value addition.

Therefore, the government has to overcome the challenge of how local content laws and policies work for all stakeholders in the oil and gas industry to promote development of the country as a whole.

Recommendations:

Considering that Oil is a national natural resource, the NDP should cover the following;

In view of Uganda’s present and possible future challenges in the natural resource management specifically oil and gas, civil society organizations would like to propose the following recommendations that must be articulated in the NDP III

Amend the PFMA 2015 to create individual liability: The PFMA should be urgently amended to provide that any government official who violates laws and as a result causes financial loss and or misallocation of public revenues should personally suffer the consequences. This will instill discipline among government officers who act with impunity and later hide behind government offices.

Complete and put in place ESIA regulations: NEMA should urgently complete and put in place the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) regulations and guidelines. Currently, NEMA is implementing the 1998 EIA regulations which do not promote transparency. The new regulations and guidelines should make hiding of information such as the presiding officer’s report a punishable offence.

The NDP III should set standards to decisively deal with and address the broader question of environmental governance, compliance and law enforcement. In Uganda, the majority of people, most especially influential ones, including leaders at all levels spend more time and money either trying to circumvent or violate the law than comply. This implies that it is more expensive to comply and less costly (socially, financially and politically) to violate the law. No matter how technically sound a new development plan is, it is unlikely to change much unless this situation is reversed.

Implement and comply with local content policy. The NDP III should ensure that Ugandans and locally sourced products for employment and use first.

Conclusion

The government is highly applauded for the close attention to the energy sector and the consistent steps taken towards the historical production of first oil by 2023. This is evidenced by heavy investments in the sector for the last few years and still going. However, to strengthen and harness the energy sector, the government should address the above issues both the immediate, medium and long-term so that the energy sector is vibrant and able to trigger the much awaited economic growth and perhaps usher Uganda into lower middle-income status in the nearest future as highlighted in NDP III. It is envisaged that oil revenues will help in financing development projects and facilitate the meeting of NDP III targets and priority sectors identified.   

Patrick Edema is an Environmental Engineer at Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO)

 

EACOP To Increase Uganda’s Vulnerability To Climate Change

By Patrick Edema

The discovery of commercial oil deposits was made in 2006 in Uganda and it is anticipated that the government will earn significant revenues from the inflow of oil funds. If collected and utilized responsibly, generated revenues have the potential to uplift Uganda’s economic growth and development.

The EACOP pipeline will be running from the oil fields in Hoima, western Uganda to Tanga port in Tanzania transporting crude that will be electrically heated throughout the pipeline. However, the government of Uganda is ignoring the related climate impacts that will come up with what it thinks is a blessing to the country.

For instance, an understanding of the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) must begin with the nature of the material the pipeline would transport, a waxy variety of crude oil that solidifies at ambient temperatures and must be heated to at least 50 degrees Celsius throughout the 1443km length of the pipeline to arrive at a port for international export, vastly increasing the environmental and economic costs of exploiting Lake Albert area crude oil reserves. 

An understanding of the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline must also begin with the fact that world’s temperature has increased by an estimated 0.9o C as atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) have risen from 290 parts per million (ppm) in pre-industrial times to more than 415 ppm in 2019, an atmospheric level of CO2 that has not existed since at least three million years ago. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is warning that a further increase of the world’s temperature by more than another 0.6o C, a consequence of CO2 levels exceeding 450 ppm, would have far-ranging catastrophic consequences on humanity, including food security and livability of cities.

Section 8.22 of the EACOP ESIA is titled "Climate" and sub-section 8.22.2 of the ESIA is titled "Project Greenhouse Gas Emissions."  This Section of the ESIA confines its assessment to only the operational emissions of CO2 and reaches the following conclusion (on page 8-370).

The key conclusions related to the EACOP project’s impact on climate include “Direct operational emissions in Uganda once the bulk heaters begin operation will range between 11–18 ktCO2e/a, which represents around 0.014–0.029% of Uganda’s total GHG emissions in 2030: the contribution of EACOP to national emissions is therefore low and will not affect Uganda’s ability to meet its emission reduction target published as part of the UNFCCC’s Paris Agreement.”

The claim that the project’s emissions would be 11–18 kilotons of CO2-equivalents per year ktCO2e/a) is grossly inaccurate as these emissions do not include indirect emissions, which (as stated on page 8-368) are “end use of the products derived from the crude oil.”

As stated in the ESIA, the purpose of the EACOP project is to transport 216,000 barrels per day of crude oil from the Lake Albert area so that the crude oil can be refined into transportation fuels that are used to power internal combustion engines, adding to the global atmospheric burden of CO2 levels.

According to table 8.22-1 of the ESIA states that EACOP crude blend E1 has a fuel density 868 kilograms per cubic meter (kg/m3), resulting in CO2eq emissions of 3.14 kg/kg of fuel.  End-use of the products derived from the crude oil (combustion of transportation fuels derived from EACOP crude blend E1) must be at least this high. 

One barrel of EACOP crude blend E1 has a volume of 0.16 cubic meters (m3) and the purpose of the pipeline is to transport 216000 barrels per day, equivalent to 78.8 million barrels per year, 12.6 million m3 per year, 10,900 million kilograms per year, or 10.9 million metric tons per year. 

If combusting 1 ton of EACOP crude blend E1 results in 3.14 tons of CO2eq emissions, then indirect emissions of the EACOP project would be at least 34.3 million metric tons of CO2eq emissions per year which is 2000 times higher than the operational CO2eq emissions assessed in Section 8.22 of the ESIA

The Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases (IWG) published estimates of the social cost of CO2 emissions to allow agencies to incorporate the social benefits of reducing CO2 emissions into cost-benefit analyses of regulatory actions. 

In the methods adopted by IWG, the social cost of carbon is defined as the monetized damages associated with an incremental increase in carbon emissions in a given year. It is intended to include changes in net agricultural productivity, human health, property damages from increased flood risk, and the value of ecosystem services due to climate change.

The indirect CO2 emissions of the EACOP project would have immense environmental, social, economic, and moral dimensions.   Approval of the ESIA for the project without scrutiny of the consequences of its indirect CO2 emissions should be set aside as irrational.

Patrick Edema is an Environmental Engineer at African Institute for Energy Governance

 

 

NEMA Needs To Improve Draft ESIA Regulations

By Sunshine Nalule

I would like to commend the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) for putting in place a number of regulations including the Petroleum (Waste Management) Regulations of 2019, the National Environment (Audit) Regulations of 2020 and others.

In 2019, the president signed into law the 2019 National Environment Act. The new law replaced the old one, the 1995 National Environment Act, because the old law did not provide for emerging challenges such as oil and gas exploitation, climate change and others.

To operationalise the 2019 National Environment Act, it was necessary for the Ministry of Water and Environment in addition to NEMA to put in place the regulations prescribed by the law. Without the regulations, it is hard to enforce the new law. It is therefore commendable that NEMA has taken a step in the right direction and has put in place some regulations.

Today, I call on NEMA to complete and put in place the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) regulations as required by the new law.

The above regulations are needed to govern over ESIA processes. The 2019 National Environment Act prescribes the mandatory conduct of ESIA studies for petroleum, transport, infrastructure and other projects listed under Schedule 5 of the Act.

The conduct of ESIA is necessary for the avoidance, minimisation or mitigation of the environmental and social impacts, risks or concerns of degrading projects.

Amidst the ongoing oil exploitation, oil roads construction, planned water abstraction from Lake Albert to support oil activities and others, the ESIA regulations are urgently needed for the protection of the environment and livelihoods.

While completing and operationalising the regulations, I call upon NEMA to avoid stifling public participation and accountability in ESIA processes through the regulations.

In a memorandum of proposals to fill gaps in the Draft 2019 ESIA regulations that 13 civil society organisations (CSOs) led by Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) sent to NEMA in October 2019, the CSOs raised key concerns.

Among them was the fact that NEMA was trying to:

  • Give itself powers to determine whether to invite members of the public in the affected area, and not all Ugandans, to make written and oral comments on an ESIA.
  • Give itself powers to determine whether a public hearing on an ESIA was necessary.
  • Reduce the number of days within which a notice inviting the public to a public hearing would be made. This will deny the public the time needed to review and make meaningful comments on an ESIA.
  • Stop the poor from accessing ESIA documents through prescribing a fee.
  • Undermine the involvement of affected cross-border communities in ESIA processes among others.

The above weaknesses stand to stifle accountability, public participation and promote corruption, undermining environmental conservation and efforts to protect community livelihoods.

NEMA should therefore act on the recommendations that the CSOs made to promote good environmental governance.

Why Uganda May Not Escape The Oil And Gas Curse

By Patrick Edema

The government of Uganda has invested a huge amount of money in the oil and gas sector before oil production commences in the country.

An estimated $3.5 billion was invested in the sector during the first exploration phase and more investments are being made to explore for oil in the Kanywataba oil well in South Western Uganda and Ngassa which is found near Lake Albert. 

In addition, it is expected that up to $20 billion will be injected in Uganda’s oil and gas sector during the development phase before oil production commences.

This money, which will largely be borrowed by the Ugandan government and international oil companies, will be used to finance the construction of an oil refinery, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), the finished petroleum products pipeline, roads, an international airport, airstrips and other infrastructure needed to commercialize Uganda’s oil and gas.

With countries increasingly prioritizing the use of clean renewable energy over oil and gas, is it not financially viable for Uganda to invest a sum of money $20 billion that is only $9 billion of Uganda’s GDP of $29 billion? 

It is also important to note that Uganda’s 6.5 billion oil and gas resources are located in the eco-sensitive Albertine Rift. The rift is an important biodiversity hot spot that is a habitat for over half (51%) of Africa’s bird species, 39% of Africa’s mammal species, and 19% of Africa’s amphibian species.

The rift is also home to 70% of Uganda’s major protected areas including seven out of ten national parks, eight out of 15 forests, 12 wildlife reserves, 13 wildlife sanctuaries and five wildlife community areas. 

The above environmental resources and the biodiversity therein support Uganda’s $1.6 billion tourism industry, $2.005 billion agricultural sector and the $171 million fisheries sector among others (2018 and 2019 figures). The resources also provide employment to over 5.3 million Ugandans in the various sectors.

Furthermore, the resources and biodiversity also have cultural, recreational and other values that communities and Ugandans attach importance to. 

Because of the location of Uganda’s oil and gas resources, the above sectors or industries stand to be disrupted as has been seen in oil producing countries such as DR Congo, Ecuador and Nigeria where fisheries and agriculture were destroyed due to oil spills to the environment and water sources.

The oil and gas sector in Uganda risks billion- and million-dollar industries in agriculture and fisheries and at the same time threatening employment opportunities of over 5.3 million Ugandans. This, therefore, poses a question as to whether it is viable for Uganda to exploit oil especially in eco-sensitive areas especially at a time when countries that are expected to consume Uganda’s oil and gas resources are transitioning to use of clean energy. 

It is moreover estimated that Uganda’s oil and gas sector will only create just over 16,000 direct and indirect job opportunities and will earn the country $2 billion in annual revenues per year. It is not prudent to invest in the oil and gas sector when countries are aggressively planning to reduce the consumption of oil and gas among other dirty energy options. 

It is therefore no doubt that the energy transition efforts that are going on worldwide will have an impact on the viability of and job prospects in Uganda’s oil and gas sector. The profitability and job opportunities will reduce. 

Government’s investment in the oil and gas sector at a time when an energy transition is ongoing and even the European oil and gas majors are reducing investment in the sector will also mean that Uganda will be stuck with infrastructure that provides less value than the investment made in the infrastructure.

Ugandans could also be forced to continue depending on oil and gas, which has grave negative impacts on the environment, climate change efforts, health and human rights.

Therefore, for the country to prevent a resource curse, the government needs to rethink investment in the oil and gas sector and promote clean renewable energy particularly wind and solar power. 

Patrick Edema

Environmental Engineer at Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO)

 

How Cost Of Higher Education Is Expected To Affect Learning Post COVID-19

By Fred Kasirye & Bill Nkeeto

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, Higher education is any postsecondary education form of learning that normally results into degrees, diplomas or certificates.

Higher educational institutions include not only universities and colleges but also various professional schools that provide preparation in fields as law, theology, medicine, business, music, accountancy and art.

Higher education also includes teacher-training schools, junior colleges, and institutes of technology. Normally the basic entrance requirement for most higher-educational institutions is the completion of secondary education.

Stakeholders in this sector are individuals or groups who have interest or concern for the institutions offering higher education.

These include administrators, lecturers, students, parents, families, community members, local business leaders, and elected officials such as school board members, council members while on the other side is the regulatory bodies like; NCHE, BTVET, Allied Health Council, to mention but a few.

These bodies perform their roles on behalf of the Government of Uganda, to ensure that quality education, that will eventually nurture professionals fit to take the country to the next level is delivered.

However, the circumstances under which these regulatory bodies and all other stakeholders have been operating, have changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes by any standards, have come at a huge cost for all the players involved, something which requires to be discussed now, during the pandemic, than any other time; since no such an occurrence was envisaged previously to mitigate the current situation, which the entire education industry finds itself in.

Discussing the cost of higher education on stakeholder needs during Covid-19 times - specifically identifying how this is expected to affect learning Post Covid-19, has a bearing on all the above-stated stakeholders alike.

Available facts show that as of March 25th 2020, over 184 countries closed doors to schools globally. According to the African Population and Health Research Centre; 1.576 billion learners worldwide at all levels of education, could no longer access their learning institutions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of all the learners affected, 297 million were from Africa, a number so significant for any country to ignore taking any action. Until this current Covid-19 pandemic, institutions have been running structured annual academic calendars in the form of terms and semesters.

Institutions now have to cope with huge losses owing to the lockdown. At the beginning of every term/ semester institutions of higher learning normally make adequate preparations as they await the term/ semester opening. These include but are not limited to: - purchasing of supplies to go through the period, -paid or on credit, which is another discussion. Contracts for staff have already been signed off to guarantee effective teaching and learning.

Lecturers in public Institutions will most likely still be paid despite closures, implying that these expenses, for the most part, do not translate into learning or other Institution related services, however long a period the institutions may be closed.

If for instance the 2020 exam cycle cannot be completed, then the full year’s spending will be impacted yet cash flows are grossly affected. The effect on private Institutions is even more drastic since for them to stay afloat, they have to cut expenses largely baiting on essentials and none essentials. Cancelling contracts, renegotiating repayment of Institutional bank loans, laying off staff and counting losses from students who left mid-semester without completing their fees/ tuition along with the fear of semester/term overlaps becoming evident every day that passes.

For as long as the vaccine to curb the COVID-19 pandemic is not discovered, the risks related causing all forms of the losses in all sectors will keep mounting globally.

Away from disrupting the teaching and learning calendar, is the need to manage the costs of mitigating the consequences of Institutions closing. A prominent model has been the jump to distance learning alternative. The costs of which differ based on the available infrastructure.

There are enormous lessons to pick from this none the less. Just all of a sudden, the need to ensure that learning continues, has seen institutions invest in unprecedented online study options thus making many mistakes as is the case with learning on the job since at this point in time there is need to walk as well as run at the same time.

Staff are largely not well tooled with the skills to manage online studies and have to learn at the same speed or even slower than their millennial students. A glaring large oversight in 21st-century learning, when digitisation has swept through other sectors like a wildfire, education largely stayed conservative in defence of a need to maintain quality and efficiency. However, the need to address the problem beforehand, to ensure business continuity, invites additional costs that could be marginal in one end of the world and very high in another.

It is these business continuity dynamics that require to be properly assessed and analysed at country level to inform a business continuity plan if inequalities are to be avoided, but at such short notice, multiple huddles for all sector players tend to unfold with regards to accessibility,  affordability and in some cases competence ability with regards to the staff expected to roll out the learning on these new platforms.

These present as short term costs, yet the long term presents more costs relating to stakeholder losses ranging from a dip in government revenues, failure of parents to pay for the immediate semesters/ terms as many have their incomes greatly dented, and even the service industry affected due to low demand given the challenged balance sheet of many of the Higher Education Institutions threatening the collapse of some, and others settling for acquisition or mergers for others.

Even with dipping revenue governments are squarely focused on containing the spread as other sectors wait, which in itself is a wise approach Health First. Economy next but surely not education for now with limited resources.

This national formula will not in any way spare the nationals/citizens who will have a trickledown effect of the severity caused by the pandemic. In homes across countries, families will bare the unfortunate pain of cancelling school for the year, to concentrate on soliciting for resources to enable them to start with the next year. The trickledown effect will without a doubt affect all stakeholders in ways rather drastic post-Covid 19. This will have a sustained effect on each of the various stakeholders. Ultimately the quality and quantity of education, especially in Low developed countries, is at a risk.

In conclusion, looking at the unforeseeable future, Institutions of higher learning have an early opportunity to find their feet towards survival and continue to serve, the already negatively affected stakeholders as a result of Covid-19.

The Covid-19 uncertainty could be the door to greater success for institutions of higher learning, if among many things; distance learning is embraced through the usage of online technology (webinars), creating parameters required for making quality module packs for learners, and mechanisms for online assessment, module packs moderated and qualified for academic delivery, facilitators empowered, and state of the art infrastructure put in place to support the new status quo.

This way the cost of education will not only become more affordable but also, institutions will have the capacity to ensure mass enrolment and make more people ready to receive it through the various Distance learning channels especially on the various online platforms.

This will also require the government and where possible the private sector to massively invest in high-speed internet and making it cheaply accessible to almost everyone in every corner of the country.

However, this decision is not limited to private Institutions, it requires the blessing of the regulators and Government by providing an enabling environment as well as guidelines to ensure there is no compromise to quality, a concern that can have far-reaching implications.

The telecoms should leverage this to build partnerships that will ensure data is available to the vulnerable and the internet can be across geographies. Countries that shall be able to take advantage of this will prepare themselves well for the future of education in the 21st century, suffer a short impact and reap a long-term reward in the provision of education services.

While a lot seems to be washed away, this is the time to redesign the model of education delivery to fit the current needs, especially those brought to light by the current global pandemic.

About the authors:

Fred Kasirye is development management specialist &Dean Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Victoria University

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Bill Nkeeto is Business Management expert & Dean Faculty of Business and Management at Victoria University

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Institutional Focus On Family Could Be Solution To Global Problems

By Fred Kasirye

The family is seemingly easy to understand a concept, it is, however, an overstated term by both laypeople and professionals in the day to day life. It could basically be referred to as a group of individuals who share a legal or genetic bond, but for many people, family means much more, and even the simple idea of genetic bonds can be more complicated than it seems.

In this unit of society, the husband and wife are bound legally together in a relationship often time born out of love compassion and commitment. Such a relationship is often time registered and known by the state. It is also true that the nature of families in a given society by any measure and standard dictates the nature /state of society - calm, rowdy, disorganised or civil.

Family is the first source of hope when the future is unknown and yet also is the last safety net when all hope is gone. COVID 19 presents the latest proof to this. International Agencies and Governments have made the vital call to families to stay home and results show that where this call has been heeded to the infections have been low and are being better managed. Social distancing in homes has been followed to the later. Further evidence that family is a solution to many global challenges.

For probably most couples in this generation, except for the very elderly (over 90+ years), this season of the pandemic marks the longest period they have had to spend mandatorily together considering the stay home directives given by governments across the world.

The family principals (Husband and Wife) have therefore been put to the longest test of each other's patience and tolerance. But better still accountability and basic governance matters relating to a home from resource planning, identification, and allocation. Many are failing at this test and realise they just cannot subsist.

Media during this COVID 19 period is awash with stories of increasing domestic violence. The scuffles often shown are life-threatening, like probably never before. This is not to suggest that there has not been domestic violence in homes before the pandemic, but rather the rate this time around is very alarming. The clergy have noted this trend of events and have often directed their summons during this period to this end. It is not yet clear why domestic violence is on a drastic rise.

Sociology as a field of study teaches us to appreciate family in reflecting on the nature, character and growth of society. These unfolding realities not only show that sociologists have a greater role to play past this pandemic to reconstruct the family as is expected to be through offering services such as counselling and guidance but also seeks the increase in relevant research relating to the challenges, influencing factors and better still what the future of the family is envisaged to look like.

Further to this, religion shall actively take up its role to strengthen the fibre that makes a family by ensuring anti-social undertones are minimised through preaching good social practices as embedded in the teachings. It is only then that Science and Business initiatives and programs for society will thrive from generation to generation.

Away from that, policymakers have a role in this, owing to the fact that the current answer to the pandemic is stay home. Therefore, the home should be a safe and enabling place and a family has a role to play in this.

We, therefore, shouldn’t take any of the unfolding events relating to the family during this COVID 19 period lightly as we could be seeing the smallest and yet most crucial unit of society being put to irrecoverable test and trial.

Healthcare, Education and Gender-responsive policy, studies as well as family level initiatives and innovations should be promoted by governments all over the world. Any effort in the opposite direction is in vain and counterproductive.

Fred Kasirye, the writer, is the Dean Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences- Victoria University, Kampala

OPINION: Pressuring Governments To Stop Supporting Fossil Fuels Not Good For Africa

By NJ Ayuk

As African oil and gas countries struggle with Covid-19's devastating impact on demand, two international groups seem to be celebrating it.

Earlier this month, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) described the low oil prices caused by the pandemic as a "golden opportunity" for governments to phase-out fossil fuel support and usher in an era of renewable energy sources.

"Subsidising fossil fuels is an inefficient use of public money and serves to worsen greenhouse emissions and air pollution," OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said in a joint OECD-IEA statement. "While our foremost concern today must be to support economies and societies through the Covid-19 crisis, we should seize this opportunity to reform subsidies and use public funds in a way that best benefits people and the planet."

I would argue that the OECD and IEA don't necessarily know what's best for the people who live on this planet. Pressuring governments to stop supporting fossil fuels certainly would not be good for the African oil and gas companies or entrepreneurs striving to build a better future. And it could be downright harmful to communities looking at gas-to-power initiatives to bring them reliable electricity.

Too often, the discussion about climate change — and the call to leave fossil fuels in the ground— is largely a western narrative. It does not factor in the needs of low-income Africans who could reap the many benefits of a strategic approach to oil and gas operations in Africa: reduced energy poverty, job creation, and entrepreneurship opportunities, to name a few.

Ironically, a policy that would jeopardize Africans' ability to realize those benefits is being recommended at the same time protesters across America are calling for equity in some of the same areas. Although police violence against people of color is at the center of the protests — a response to the horrific death of a black man, George Floyd, after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes — the protests also point to social and economic disparities between the races in America.

While I don't want to exploit the death of George Floyd, I do see parallels between the racial disparities in America and the struggles of Africans whose lives could be improved through oil and gas. I always see a common pattern of ignoring black and African voices.

Too often in America, the value of black lives was not given proper consideration until George Floyd's death forced the topic to the forefront and rightly so. And on the global stage, OECD and IEA are dismissing the voices of many Africans who want and need the continent's oil and gas industry to thrive. I would advise these organizations not to ignore the needs of poor people in African countries.

As it stands, African energy entrepreneurs, the African energy sector, and Africans who care about energy poverty are basically saying, "I can't breathe."

It's time to get the knees off their necks.

The Dangers of Energy Poverty

Consider the impact of energy poverty. Approximately 840 million Africans, mostly in sub-Saharan countries, have no access to electricity. Hundreds of millions have unreliable or limited power at best.

Even during "normal times," energy poverty is dangerous. The household air pollution created by burning biomass, including wood and animal waste, to cook and heat homes has been blamed for as many as 4 million deaths per year. How will this play out during the pandemic? For women forced to leave their homes to obtain and prepare food, sheltering in place is nearly impossible.

What about those who need to be hospitalized? Only 28 percent of sub-Saharan Africa's health care facilities have reliable power. Physicians and nurses can't even count on the lights being on, let alone the ability to treat patients with equipment that requires electricity —  or store blood, medications, or vaccines. All of this puts African lives at risk.

That's what makes gas-to-power initiatives so critically important: It only makes sense for African countries to use their vast natural gas reserves for power generation. And we're already making progress on that front. Today, about 13 African countries use natural gas produced domestically or brought in from other African countries, and there's every reason to believe this trend will grow.

In Cameroon, for example, Victoria Oil and Gas PLC already provides domestic gas for power generation, and its subsidiary, Gaz du Cameroun (GDC), has agreed to provide the government gas for a new power station with the potential to accommodate growing demand.

And in Mozambique, the Temane power plant, also known as Mozambique Gas-to-Power, is being developed now, and plans are underway to develop a second plant. Both will rely on Mozambique's Rovuma basis for feedstock.

I have heard calls, including some from the OECD, for the development of sustainable energy solutions to meet Africa's power needs. Great — let's go for it. I'm all for renewable energy solutions, but Africans should not be forced to make either-or-decisions in this area. Energy poverty is a serious concern, and it's wrong to make it more difficult for African countries to use a readily available natural resource to address it.

Investment — Not Aid

One of the benefits of oil and gas operations in Africa is they provide opportunities for both indigenous companies and for foreign ones. And as foreign companies comply with local content laws, they invest in the communities where they work. Africa needs those investments, particularly training and education programs that empower people to make better lives for themselves.

I want to be clear: Africa does not need social programs, even educational programs, that come in the form of aid packages. What's more, offering Africa aid packages to compensate for a halt or slow-down of oil and gas operations will not do Africans any good.

I tried to make that point recently during a friendly debate with Prof. Patrick Bond, a very bright man and a distinguished professor at the University of the Western Cape School of Government. He argued that Africa should keep all of its petroleum resources in the ground to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and prevent further climate change.

Developed nations, the professor continued, should compensate Africa for that sacrifice, and Africa could use that money to develop other opportunities. No. This is not the time for Africa to be calling for more aid. Africa has been receiving aid for nearly six decades, and what good has it done? We still don't have enough jobs.

Investment creates opportunities, meaning Africans aren't receiving, they're doing. They're learning, working, building, growing, deciding. We, as Africans, must be responsible. Our young people should be empowered to build an Africa we all can be proud of. Relying on the same old policies of the past, relying on aid, simply isn't going to get us there.

The truth is, no matter how you feel about the American Shale Revolution, Africans can learn from it. One of the reasons it succeeded is because you had small businesses willing to take a chance on new technology. They worked hard, and in the end, they boosted production. America became the largest crude oil producer in the world.

Those companies made something extraordinary happen, and so can African businesses. We need more entrepreneurs willing to seize opportunities and, in some cases, make mistakes. That's how we grow and learn. We need government leaders to do their part by creating a welcoming environment for foreign investors and establishing local content policies that result in opportunities for business partnerships, quality jobs, and learning opportunities for Africans.

Africa is capable of building a better future, of ending energy poverty, strengthening our economy, and improving the lives of everyday Africans. If we're smart about it, and we work together with purpose, our oil and gas resources can help us get there.

And that's why this is a horrible time for OECD, IEA, or any other outside organizations, to interfere with our natural resources.

Don't Stand in Our Way

I understand and respect the OECD and IEA's commitment to preventing climate change. But when you describe the chance to harm a major African economic sector as a great opportunity, there's something wrong.

When you put independent African oil and gas companies at risk, you're saying your objectives are more important than African livelihoods and aspirations.

American institutions are coming under fire for failing to recognize that Black Lives Matter and to work alongside African-American communities to create positive change.

I encourage the OECD and IEA to take a different approach.

This is an opportunity for all of us to join forces, to take a team approach to growing Africa's energy sector, and to do it without dismissing Africa's right to capitalize on its own natural resources.

NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, CEO of pan-African corporate law conglomerate Centurion Law Group

Bobi Wine Speaks About Ziggy Wyne’s Death

People Power leader and presidential hopeful Hon. Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Robert also known as Bobi Wine has in a widely shared statement spoken out candidly about the death of his close friend and member of the politician’s singing crew Fire Base who died last year in a road accident.

Here is the full statement reproduced

All most one year since his demise, there are still no clues from the investigating authorities on whether the culprits will ever be brought to book.

Kalinda Michael commonly known by his stage name Ziggy Wyne was abducted and subjected to horrendous forms of torture. His left eye was plucked out, two of his fingers cut off and parts of his body were burnt with a flat iron. He was beaten and dumped at Mulago hospital by unknown people where he spent a week before being identified by his family. He was later pronounced dead.

Many other Ugandan political leaders and activists, countless other Ugandans who have openly identified with the #PeoplePower movement have been kidnapped, illegally detained and tortured. People Power candidates in the Makerere University guild election were kidnapped, only to reappear with severe torture marks.

These are only a few of the many supporters and comrades who have been victims of targeted attacks. We have received reports of people being arrested and detained for putting on either the red beret or t-shirts branded with our symbols or slogans.

Whenever we have activities such as attending court sessions or rallies, countless young people are brutalized, arrested and illegally detained in the various cells around the country. Many have reported being beaten up from police stations and asked to denounce People Power if they want to live. 

Indeed last year, a well-wisher released a video recording of police officers at Kajjansi police post beating up 30-year-old Kassim Migadde as they mocked him for associating with People Power.

It was the same story with Patricia Nakamyuka, an outspoken People Power activist who was beaten, dumped at Kira Police station before she went missing.  We fear she was killed although we’ve never found out like it was with Ziggy Wine.

All we are aware of is that she continues to feature on the police’s list of wanted people. Nakamyuka had earlier strongly participated in the Kyandonddo East by-elections and also travelled with us to Arua for the municipal by-elections that were marred with irregularities and violence on the opposition members.

Our calls to have these matters investigated by the authorities and perpetrators brought to book never yield much. Further, we have filed several court cases about these violations including the one about the murder of my driver Yasin Kawuma, but there has not been much progress. The Uganda Human Rights Commission has equally let us down in our efforts to put an end to untold levels of torture and brutality.

I must add that many other people, who have been vocal in opposing President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s regime of 33 years, regardless of whether they belong to his ‘party’ or other political formations have been equally assaulted, tortured and intimidated

As we draw towards the 2021 elections, it is apparent that the ruling party is determined to silence any form of dissent using extreme violence. Although they came to power castigating former presidents Milton Obote and Idi Amin of torture and extra-judicial killings of their opponents, they seem determined to out-do their record in terms of committing unspeakable atrocities against the wanainchi.

We call upon all peace-loving citizens of the world to join us in condemning horrendous violations against innocent citizens in Uganda.

We thank you all for your support and solidarity thus far and continue to call upon you to support us as we struggle for a better country which respects human rights and human dignity. We can and shall achieve this, God being our help.

For God and My Country!

Hon. Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Robert
People Power – Uganda

EACOP Affected Communities Demand For Quick Compensation, COVID-19 Relief Aid

By Sandra Atusinguza

The global diversifying COVID 19 pandemic impacts have not spared the oil and gas projects affected communities. In East Africa, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project has had its share of the COVID-19 pandemic negative impacts. 

In Uganda, Lwengo district is one of the EACOP project-affected villages across the 11 districts with over 700 Project Affected Persons (PAPs) whom government acquired there land to pave way for the construction of the oil export pipeline. 

Since 2018, to date, these persons have never been compensated and a cut- off date was set for their land and property.

The COVID 19 impacts have neither spared the host communities nor the surrounding villages, communities are very frustrated with the EACOP oil and gas project; this could be an opportunity for them to utilize the compensation or farm their land during the lockdown, as a result, some people have been forced to go back to the already government acquired land for agriculture.

The EACOP communities decry a big communication gap between oil and gas companies, their sub-contractors New Plan and ICS and the affected communities on updates of compensation and grievances handling.

The phone numbers that were provided to the communities were switched off three months ago to date. The district structures and resettlement committees that were established are now acting ceremonial leaders on matters oil and gas as they are of no help to their communities.

The project affected families are calling upon government through the line ministry, PAU and oil and gas companies to immediately compensate them and also provide them with food relief during the ongoing lock down.

 The project affected people are a special group of venerable people who have no choice on ether to use the land or not because of the delayed compensation and effects of the cut- of date.

These people, such as Ssegunja Ivan from Lwengo, believe that just as many companies have been donating food to the public oil companies should give out food to the oil projects affected persons awaiting compensation.

Sandra Atusinguza works as AFIEGO field coordinator

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