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Charcoal Burning Uganda’s Future


Tree fellers should use the timber for making their own coffins. Because, as they kill that 100 year old Mvule, the poor tree is busy supplying them with good air to live. Hacking down a living tree to produce charcoal, one is initiating endless cycles of murder no one can ever tell. First, life of a tragic carbon at a thousandth year of captivity in the trunk is being restored! The logger is innocently condemning the lives of uncountable species of living things.

Deforestation, and especially the destruction of rainforests, is a hugely significant contributor to climate change in Uganda. Scientists estimate that forest loss and other changes to the use of land account for around 23% of current man-made carbon dioxide emissions – which equates to roughly 17% of the 100-year warming impact of all current greenhouse-gas emissions.

The impact of the charcoal industry in Uganda’s once believed to be the most stunning of all Africa’s vegetation is despairing.

Surely, if one day, the spirit of one Sir Winston Churchill, who constantly referred to Uganda as the Pearl of Africa could tour back, we can’t know what the late would make of how rapidly the country has lost it’s beautiful ecosystem to, primarily energy.

Ninety-six percent of Ugandan households depend on wood fuel for cooking. According to a study conducted by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the rate of charcoal production and usage in Uganda between 1998 and 2008 increased by 76% mainly due to increased urbanization.

The study further noted that production of charcoal in Uganda was mainly based on cutting naturally growing trees using simple methods. The current rate of deforestation stands at 1.8%. This means the scarcity of firewood can only get worse unless ambitious interventions are put in place to reverse this trend.

Wood fuel is deeply rooted in both Uganda’s household and industrial energy mix that several attempts to cut the production of the fossil fuel often meets resistance.  In Gulu district, charcoal burners in January only played hide-and-seek with the local authorities trying to impose a mere month ban. 

More burning can’t help heal the already raped lands. But just how will the 85% of the population survive without a reliable alternative energy source? Will the small solar panels visible on few roof tops of villagers produce enough energy for cooking food?

According to some reports, Uganda loses close to 73,000 hectares of forest cover annually, which has critically catalyzed the impacts of global warming in the land-locked country: fields that no longer grow… erratic and harsh weather conditions such as hot days, all have their seeds in a falling tree.

Every year our atmosphere loses around 10 billion cubic metres of oxygen, replacing it with carbon dioxide that would absorbed by flora. Knowing this should help us appreciate the vital contributions made by trees.

During the course of its life, a single average 100 year old tree will have fixed the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) contained in 18 million cubic metres of air in the form of about 2,500 kilograms of pure carbon. Experts have calculated that a hectare of well-working forestry annually absorbs about 6.5 tons of carbon dioxide while releasing 3.5 to 5 tons of oxygen.

For all of human history until around the dawn of the age of fossil fuels, the amount of carbon in the atmosphere was stable at ~275 parts per million (ppm). As climate pundit Bill McKibben explains, “Parts per million is simply a way of measuring the concentration of different gases, and means the ratio of the number of carbon dioxide molecules to all of the molecules in the atmosphere.”7 275 ppm CO2 is a useful, balanced amount which allows enough greenhouse-gasses to create a warm, livable climate but not so much as to make a dangerously hot one.

With limited renewable energy of poor nations, the demand for the fossil fuel have swelled and our carbon-emissions have soared exponentially. As a result, there is now a dangerously high amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

An average 100 year old tree is said to have availed 6,600 kilograms of oxygen for living creatures. A single tree such as a mature Mvule can produce enough oxygen for 10 people for a year. Cut down a Mvule and you condemn 10 people. Cut down a hundred and you condemn a village. Cut down a forest and you are committing genocide; aside from destroying wild-life habitats.

Cut down forests for fossil fuels and you are doing no service to humankind. You are a blight, not a blessing, on civilization; and the face of this Earth – you are burning the future!


BY: Boaz Opio

Environmentalist (Kampala Uganda)


BG Group Offers $1.45m For Skills Development In EA


British energy company BG Group has said it is going to invest $1.45 million to develop skills need to work in the oil and gas sector. The money will cover a period of five years.

The “Skills for Oil and Gas in Africa” (SOGA ) programme is an initiative of UK’s Department for International Development, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

It  is being delivered by the German international development agency, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in Kenya and Tanzania where BG Group operates.

“This partnership breaks new ground, providing opportunity for local communities to gain the skills and experiences needed to access employment opportunities in and around the emerging oil and gas industry.

Simultaneously companies will be enabled to respond to the strong expectations from host governments and societies. SOGA will deliver training on-the-ground,” says Ramanie Kunanayagam, BG Group Head of Social Performance.

“The SOGA initiative provides the opportunity for scale, leveraged funding and additional technical expertise that no single partner can provide on its own.  We hope through our partnership, we can jointly illustrate the value adding benefits from such a public private sector collaboration,” adds Ramanie.

SOGA’s vision is to significantly expand the benefits for local people and companies from new oil and gas development in East Africa by improving the local availability of required skills, goods and services.

SOGA has said aims to increase jobs in the oil and gas industry by 32,000 35 percent of which will be women and 40 percent youth as well as raise the incomes of 240000 by 10 percent.

SOGA’s strategy and activities work through delivering support Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions by improving the quality of their training and ensuring relevance the demands of the oil and gas sector.

Shell Shareholders Approve Merger With BG Group


More than 80 percent of shareholders in Royal Dutch Shell voted in favor of combining with British energy company BG Group, the Dutch supermajor said.

"I am delighted with the positive shareholder vote and the confidence that shareholders have shown in the strategic logic of the combination of Shell and BG," Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said in a statement.

Shell shareholders were asked to approve the acquisition of BG Group by the company. The Dutch supermajor said just over 83 percent of its shareholders voted in favor of the deal.

Shell said combining with BG Group would mark the start of a new chapter for the company. Costs will move lower by about $4 billion for 2016, but also result in widespread redundancies. About 10,000 staff and director contractor positions will be eliminated across both companies.

The $7 billion tie-up with BG Group will be one of the largest mergers of its kind since Exxon and Mobil joined in the 1990s. For the combined group, Shell in a prospectus last year said capital investments for 2016 would be around $33 billion, lower than previously forecast by $2 billion, or 5.7 percent.

Crude oil prices are trading at or near low levels not seen in a decade, leaving energy companies without capital needed for strong investments.

Shell through the deal takes on a larger footprint in the liquefied natural gas sector, a sector less dependent on the geopolitical constraints in the midstream, or transit, part of energy. Economic and political disputes between Russia and Ukraine, for example, pose threats to European energy security.

BG shareholders vote on the measure Thursday. If approved, the transaction would be finalized Feb. 15.


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Optimistic Total E&P To Stay In Uganda

French oil and gas exploration firm Total E&P has said they will continue pursuing their agenda in Uganda despite the global industry instability that has seen crude oil price slump to a record low of below $27 per barrel.

“Total remains committed to work towards producing the Ugandan oil resources as soon as possible because Uganda oil resources are potentially low-cost resources which will be competitive in the market,” Adewale Fayemi, Total E&P’s country representative to Uganda told Daily Monitor in an interview.

He explained that when you consider the resources used to produce oil in Uganda and compare to places that need deep off-shore facilities, Uganda is cheap and competitive.

“Today, we are not talking about whether the resources are available. It is clear what the resources are and how to produce the resource, we know. So it is not about resource speculation. We continue to develop the oil chain in Uganda,”

Total has been in Uganda for 60 years and is willing to developing its presence along the value chain in Uganda and be the partner of choice in the oil and gas sector. He believes that the oil sector is going to be a game changer for Uganda. 

Total E&P submitted their Field Development Plans (FDPs) at the end of last year in quest for government to issue them with production licence. Government is reviewing their submission and the explorers are optimistic the FDPs will be approved and production licenses awarded soon.

CNOOC is the only one of the three oil companies operating in Uganda to have been given a production licence. Total E&P and Tullow are on the sideline waiting. The government of Uganda committed themselves last year to give out production licence but didn’t.

Oil companies have in the past quietly expressed their displeasure over the delayed issuance of production licenses. Patrick Pouyanné, CEO and Chairman of Total while meeting Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni expressed desire to produce Uganda’s oil resources as soon as possible.

Pouyanné insisted on the company’s long term commitment to Uganda and his willingness to develop the investments of Total along the oil value chain in Uganda, upstream and downstream to be the partner of choice for Uganda in the oil sector.

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  • 24 Mar 2016 28°C 22°C
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