Baz Waiswa

Baz Waiswa

Nabbanja, New UNOC CEO, Tasked To Implement Five Year Strategy

Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) Monday announced that Ms. Proscovia Nabbanja will be the Chief Executive Officer taking over from Josephine Wapakhabulo who recently resigned.

Nabbaja, who has been operating in acting capacity, has immediately been tasked by the Board of Directors to implement the company’s Five-Year Strategy developed by Wapakhabulo.

The strategy basically spells UNOC ambitions and how to achieve its objectives key of which is to ensure that UNOC becomes a profitable company that brings value to its shareholders.

“The BOD is confident that Ms. Nabbanja’s appointment will propel UNOC to greater heights given her vast Knowledge, drive and experience in the petroleum industry.

“UNOC has a key role in ensuring the sustainability of petroleum resource production and reserve replacement in the country. In this regard, UNOC is planning to acquire exploration licenses with a view of increasing the resource base of the country.

“UNOC’s strategy is to build a refinery that meets the petroleum products' needs of Uganda and its regional neighbors, with any remaining to be exported,” read a brief statement issued by UNOC.

Nabbaja, a geologist, priority to taking the acting CEO role, was working at UNOC as the company’s Chief Operating Officer (Upstream).

Miners Want Fast Paced Sector Reforms

The government of Uganda must expedite legal reforms in the mining sector to enable investors do business, speakers said at the 8th Annual Mineral Wealth Conference sitting Thursday at Kampala Serena.

Andy Spiro, the country manager Great Rift Geosciences SMC Ltd, said that in order to attract investment ‘we need good and fiscal policies that are competitive’ adding that good laws will mitigate the risks in the sector.

Similarly, Dr. Luisa Moreno, the managing director Tahuti Global Inc, said favorable mining laws is what Uganda needs to attract investment. Dr Moreno also suggests that the sector should be looked at as a exploration sector not as a mining sector yet.

Dr. Elly Karuhanga, the chairperson, Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (UCMP), emphasized the need for Uganda to work towards creating an enabling environment for the mining sector.

These submissions from the private sector members who are too anxious to deploy their money into exploration and mining activities are coming at a time government has committed to revise the mining laws, regulations and policies.

Last year, a mining and minerals policy was put in place. Government with stakeholders in the private sector and civil society are participating in an ongoing review of the mining law and regulation that will phase out the Mining Act of 2003 and 2004 regulations.

Peter Lokeris, the energy minister in charge of minerals, explained that the new legal and regulatory framework shall unlock the mineral sector to spark transformation.

He noted that the sector has undergone through various transformations under Mining Act of 2003 that has been in force for the past 15 years.

Robert Kasande the permanent secretary of Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development stated that government intends to conclude the new legal and regulatory framework reviews as soon as possible.  

To facilitate mining activities in the country, the energy ministry is looking at putting in place an online licensing system, establishing a mineral certification system and online registration of all miners (especially artisanal miners) among other programs.  

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Uganda country representative Elsie Attafuah acknowledged that that sustainable development in the mining sector must benefit all men and women.

The 8th Annual Mineral Wealth Conference, organized by UCMP, is a high private sector led gathering that sits to deliberate on how Uganda can develop its mining sector.

This year’s theme of the two day conference is creating an enabling environment for mining in Uganda.

Miners Hoping EITI Will Be Good For Business, Promote Transparency

Uganda’s pursuit of becoming a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) took shape with the formation of the Multi Stakeholder Group (MSG) to expedite the application process.

The Multi Stakeholder Group membership consists of officials from the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MOFPED), Civil Society Organization (CSOs), private sector, international oil and mining companies and representatives of Artisanal and Small Scale Miners (ASMs).

The pending arrival of EITI has caused excitement in the country’s mining sector which is predominantly artisanal, rudimentary and has been characterized by lack of transparency and accountability especially in instances where the government has entered into big money contracts with foreign mining companies.

Saul Ongaria, a senior economist at MOFPED, recently speaking at the Citizens Convention on Mining organized by Global Rights Alert (GRA) and partners at Hotel Africana, revealed that Uganda’s application to become a member of EITI will be submitted before the end of this year.

Uganda becoming a member of EITI comes with a number of benefits top of which is the need to promote transparency, good governance and accountability in the sector by both miners and government who must declare details of contracts, transactions and taxes exchanged and how they are used to develop the country.

Ongaria told miners and stakeholders at the convention that joining EITI will help Uganda improve her investment climate for miners, generate more revenue for the government, minimize revenue mismanagement, improve the licensing process which has been contentious and provide a platform for sharing of factual sector information.

Government Committed

He said the government is committed to achieving this and is benchmarking with countries that are currently implementing and practising these EITI standards.

“Government has put in place laws and policies to facilitate this process,” he said referring to the Public Information Management Act, the Access to Information Act, the National Oil and Gas Policy, the Mining and Minerals Policy and others.

“We are going to make sure that the law works in harmony with extractives processes. We need it (EITI). It is a standard that will help us track the sector. EITI requires cooperation between CSOs, companies and government to agree on the way forward and flag whatever gaps are in the sector and also offer recommendations,” Ongaria explained.

While Ongaria painted a picture of commitment, the chairperson local council five Mubende district Kibuuka Francis Bazigatirawo Amooti tasked government to fast track registration of miners in the country so that they can participate in the EITI implementation.

“The promise has always been there – applying – when will this applying stop? Does it require the signature of the Pope in Rome?” Kibuuka, who re-echoed the opinions of many artisanal miners at the convention, wondered.

Artisanal miners must participate

The convention, which attracted close to 400 stakeholders in the Ugandan mining sector, heard from Ian Mwiinga, the national coordinator of EITI Zambia, that artisanal miners through their associations must participate in the EITI application and implementing processes.

“Make sure you have a stake, no one should block you,” he encouraged the miners who were in attendance, explaining that Uganda’s focus should be what EITI will do for the country but not what Uganda will do for EITI.

In agreement, Ongaria acknowledged that it is challenging to solve issues without involving the affected people, in this case, the artisanal miners. “We want ASMs to be part of the MSG. There are issues you can raise and we pick them up. We are going to ask you to nominate representatives to MSG,” Ongaria noted.

James Muhindo of Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE) stated that ASMs will be obligated to participate and adhere to the standards of EITI once Uganda signs to it.

“It will be an obligation for ASMs to declare what they are producing once they are in the system. Whatever the companies declare, they will also have to declare. It will be their responsibilities to declare.”  

Capacity challenges for artisanal miners

EITI, implemented in over 50 countries, especially in Africa because the continent is rich with natural resources, faces implementation challenges like lack of good laws and willingness by both government and miners to go all the way in implementing it.

Paul Bagabo of Natural Resource Governance Institute noted that that ASMs are largely challenged by lack of capacity and because of that gap the government prefers to work with big companies. He asked ASMs to start coming together and work towards becoming one big company.

He advised Uganda to focus on the implementation of EITI and combat corruption in the extractives by protecting civic space.

The annual Citizens Convention on Mining was held under the theme amplifying citizens’ voices, harnessing mineral wealth opportunities for Uganda with support from ACODE, Actionaid International, Transparency International and Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.

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University Offers First Aid Skills Training To Rally Drivers

Rally drivers and their co-drivers will now get specialized and well research first aid skills training at Victoria University, Vice-Chancellor Assoc. Prof. Krishna N Sharma has said.

The pledge to support the rally fraternity was made when officials visited the university to discuss the details of the growing working relationship.

Dr. Sharma said a 4 hours free short course training will be offered to drivers they will be equipped with first aid skills as they prepare for the forthcoming rally in Hoima.

Victoria University under its faculty of health sciences is making leaps in the field of science, research and offering practical health solutions through publications.

The partnership with motorsport is not an act of isolation, the university has in the recent past signed MoUs with Uganda Cricket Association and basketball association.

Uganda Cricket players, both girls and boy, now have an opportunity to further their education at no cost after Victoria University.

The university will help with the psychological performance assessment and analysis of the senior men national team.

“As a research university, we have resources that can allow us to add value to sports institutions through research on modern performance-enhancing techniques.

Our relationship is also being extended to the top cricketers as well as their immediate family members so that we can have a positive impact on the lives of these players’ Dr. Sharma said.

Dr. Sharma said the university is well connected with motorsport because the university promoter Rajiv Ruparelia recently kick-started his rallying career and is doing well.

Rajiv recently graduated to the Club Man Rally Championship (CRC) category in the National Rally Championship (NRC) events.

“I have always felt ripe to take on the big competition, but am glad I can finally join. If the rules allow, then we shall be able to take on the Fort Portal event,” Rajiv said after getting the news of the promotion.

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