Uganda’s security minister Lt General Henry Tumukunde wants governments in East Africa and their citizens to devote more time, resources and investment to bolster security installations ahead of an oil and gas boom. The minister was recently speaking at The Joint Oil & Gas Convention & Regional Logistics Expo 2017 in Kampala.
The minister explained that with Mozambique, Rwanda and Tanzania becoming pronounced gas producers and Uganda and Kenya making giant strides in the oil business plus South Sudan and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) successes, East Africa will become ‘a center for oil and gas politics and dynamics’ akin to Nigeria, Libya and most recently Syria.
“What continues to shake me, in my own perspective, is how much effort our countries are putting in the subject called security when in four years we expect to have oil and gas as one of your most important resource. I am of the view that it should become a business for the countries and citizens in East Africa to sincerely give time to the role of security in the oil and gas sector.
It is also important that I mention that we have a number of circumstances in this region. We have a weak state in South Sudan and we have got issues in eastern Congo. We have sometimes had unpredictable political situations in some of our neighborhoods - we have the issue of Burundi – and this is accompanied by a broader picture of what is happening in Libya and Syria,” he said.
The minister who participated in the five year guerrilla rebellion that brought President Yoweri Museveni into power 31 years ago and therefore has vast military and security experience having worked in security circles all his adult life predicts that what is happening in Libya and Syria can happen here in Uganda and East Africa as people scramble for oil and gas.
“We have got people (investors – oil companies) who have risky money. They bring their money to your own country. And in our case it’s (oil) in the corner of nowhere, in national parks, where there is political influence from DRC border, where ADF a subunit of Al Qaeda, also related to ISIS operates.
As these people sit with their expensive personnel, with so much equipment and so much risk money, and you know how oil sector is volatile, how prepared are we as a country to host this money, people and oil and activities?” the general expressed his fears.
Uganda is on the verge of constructing a 60, 000 barrels of oil per day refinery in Hoima, a crude export pipeline, a refined products pipeline, a central processing facility among other key infrastructure projects that are key to the oil business but exposed to militarized attacks and other fatal insecurity incidences as it has been the case in Nigeria, Angola, Libya and other unfortunate places.
The minister says the security issue is a big one to be left to only security people. “Make security part of your everyday life,” the minister told close to 1000 delegates who attended the three day summit which aimed at opening up the oil industry to logistics and freight forwarders.
The minister said some of the perceived security threats that can come up as a result of the oil business are infrastructure damages, cyber-attacks, internal rebellions and uprisings, hostages like how it happens in the Niger Delta in Nigeria, external attacks, economic desperation, and petty crimes among others.
The measures being put in place by the security ministry include striking a partnership with the private sector and interested partners to create awareness, creating cyber security tools, putting in place infrastructure security strategies, focus on intelligence by involving local people, developing a proper security local content policies, economic and social security which he said is often neglected, development of oil wealth redistribution strategy and encouraging development of non-oil sectors.
Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum General Secretary Paul Sherwen said government of Uganda has always provided security courtesy of Uganda People’s Defense Forces to protect ongoing oil activities. “The companies that came here to do oil exploration did it in a safe environment.” He said.