TotalEnergies Ink Partnership Deal With Light For The World

TotalEnergies EP Uganda and Light for the World (LftW) have signed a two-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote equal, inclusive, and diverse employment for all qualified persons and to eliminate discrimination against Persons with Disabilities.

Under the MoU, LftW, a global disability inclusion and development organization, will support TotalEnergies EP Uganda to streamline internal disability inclusion frameworks, improve access of Persons with disabilities to various employment opportunities and deliver bespoke disability awareness trainings to the Company employees.

The MoU is in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDG) theme ‘Leave no one behind,’ as well as SDG 8 ‘Reduced inequality’ and 10 ‘Decent work and economic growth’.

Through the implementation of the MoU activities, TotalEnergies EP Uganda seeks to amplify one of its key diversity actions ‘the recognition of abilities’.

Phillipe Groueix, the General Manager of TotalEnergies EP Uganda, said including and supporting employees with disabilities is an integral part of the oil company’s diversity policy. “As we grow our activities in Uganda, we are ensuring that our commitment to diversity is implemented as it draws on our intrinsic values of Respect for Each Other and Standing Together," Groueix said.

“With this partnership, we hope to demonstrate our concrete actions towards ensuring that our Company is all-inclusive, respects the rights of persons with disabilities, develops and implements non-discriminatory policies and practices, makes the Company premises and tools accessible, undertakes appropriate measures to enable job retention, and respects confidentiality of personal information regarding disability,” he added

The Country Director, LftW Silvester Kasozi noted that promoting disability inclusion within the extractives’ sector isn't just a matter of diversity but an imperative for progress and doing what is right.

By embracing the unique talent and perspectives of individuals with disabilities, we unlock innovation, drive efficiency, and build a more resilient industry, Kasozi said.

Africa Climate Summit: Will This Foster A Just Energy Transition In Africa?

By Patrick Edema

Between September 4 to 6, 2021, the African and international leaders attended the African Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya where they deliberated on Africa’s unified position on the climate crisis ahead of COP28, the global climate talks, in December. They also developed the Nairobi Declaration for green growth, a blueprint for Africa’s green energy transition.

The Africa Climate Summit is the largest gathering of African Heads of State, Ministers, UN agencies, humanitarian and development partners, the private sector and youth in the continent’s history. It represents an unprecedented opportunity to address the increasing impacts of climate change on human mobility in Africa. 

As you may know, not all countries are equally responsible for the climate crisis. African countries are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, experiencing the dire impacts of the climate crisis including drought, flooding, extreme weather temperatures, rising sea levels. In 2022, more than 7.5 million internal disaster displacements were registered on the African continent (IDMC, Global Report on Internal Displacement, 2023). 

The African Development Bank (AfDB) indicates that nine out of the 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change are in sub-Saharan Africa. These events are costing countries $7 to $15 billion a year and, unchecked, the AfDB warns these costs could soar to $50 billion annually by 2030.

The research commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) also estimates the cost of adaptation to be about $50 billion by 2050 if the global temperature increase is kept within 2 degrees. The high dependence of the continent on rain-fed agriculture compounds these vulnerabilities.

Worse to note, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), also reports that more than 30 gigatonnes of CO2 are released into the Earth's atmosphere every year and this is the main source of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, and most of these gases come from the use of fossil fuels, non-renewable energy production and polluting human activities.

The top ten polluters include China - 10,065 million tonnes of CO2, the United States - 5,416 million tonnes, India - 2,654 million tonnes, Russia - 1,711 million tonnes, Japan - 1,162 million tonnes, Germany - 759 million tonnes, Iran - 720 million tonnes, South Korea - 659 million tonnes, Saudi Arabia - 621 million tonnes and Indonesia - 615 million tonnes of CO2, while Africa, an entire continent, accounts for only four (4) per cent of global carbon emissions, despite being the continent suffering the most devastating effects of the climate crisis.  

That is why, according to the 1992 Rio Declaration, now known as the polluter pays principle, those who cause pollution should bear the costs of dealing with it to prevent damage to human health or the environment, as the world agreed that the biggest polluters must take action to reduce their carbon emissions, but also to offset their carbon footprints by supporting environmental projects around the world.

Despite such declarations, the catastrophic effects of climate change in Africa are not only wreaking havoc on local communities, but are becoming a major obstacle to achieving the just energy transition. Urgent action to combat this threat is no longer a matter of choice but of existential necessity.

It is true that the world is gradually waking up to the climate emergency where major oil and gas companies from Europe and North America are increasingly losing their license to operate there however, they are turning to Africa to try and secure at least a few more years of extraction and profit. Yet decades of fossil fuel development in Africa have failed to bring prosperity and reduce energy poverty. African countries whose economies rely on the production and export of fossil fuels are suffering slower rates of growth, sometimes up to three times slower than those with more diverse economies.

For instance, in Mozambique, where foreign companies have built a $20bn offshore natural gas field and onshore liquefied natural gas facility, 70 percent of the country still lives without access to electricity. The gas is not for local people. Fossil fuels development has often had terrible consequences for the communities exposed to it.

In Cabo Delgado, the area around the gas fields of Mozambique, for example, the industry destroyed the lives and livelihoods of the locals but delivered few of the promised jobs and compensation. In Nigeria, Uganda, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the arrival of oil brought poverty, human rights abuses, and the loss of traditional lands and cultures.

The investments in fossil fuels are not investments for the people. The gas prices are inherently volatile, as the consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are currently demonstrating. In many African countries, where costly fossil fuel projects already demonstrated they can do little to alleviate debt burdens and new fossil fuel investments will only serve to pile more debt on existing debt.

The renewable energy presents an unequivocally better alternative to all this. Electricity from solar and wind is now largely cheaper than electricity form gas and prices don’t experience dangerous fluctuations.

Therefore, if African countries are to stand a chance to achieve the just clean energy transition, there must be an increase in investment in renewable energy and climate action and this requires strong political commitment to increase the pace of implementation as opposed to prioritizing fossil fuels.

Patrick Edema is the Environmental Engineer and Programmes Coordinator at AFIEGO


Address Agricultural Sector Challenges To Benefit Ugandan Farmers

By Olive Atuhaire

Uganda’s agricultural potential is considered to be among the best in Africa with low temperature variability, fertile soils, and two rainy seasons over much of the country leading to multiple crop harvests per year.

According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, Uganda’s fertile agricultural land has the potential to feed 200 million people.  Eighty percent of Uganda’s land is arable but only 35% is being cultivated. In 2021/22, agriculture accounted for about 24.1% of GDP and 33% of export earnings.

The UBOS estimates that about 70% of Uganda’s working population is employed in agriculture.  Uganda produces a wide range of agricultural products including: coffee, tea, sugar, livestock, fish, edible oils, cotton, tobacco, plantains, corn, beans, cassava, sweet potatoes, millet, sorghum, and groundnuts

However much Uganda is being the best among the African countries regarding agricultural sector, it is noted that the commercialization of the sector is impeded by a lot of challenges faced by the farmers. 

Some of these are limited use of fertilizer, lack of quality seeds, sub-standard agrochemical inputs, limited access to finance caused by high-interest rates, expensive farming equipment, poor farming practices and lack of irrigation infrastructure rendering production vulnerable to climatic extremes and pest infestations.   

According to Integrated Seed Sector Development Uganda, it is estimated that less than 15% of Ugandan farmers use quality, mainly hybrid seed. This stems from inadequate access to quality seeds of farmers; preferred crop varieties, high price of seed, unsupportive policies and inadequate knowledge of available varieties.

As the climate change crisis worsens and as commercial interests continue to take hold, Uganda stands to lose its indigenous seeds and plants which are bad for both farmers and consumers of farm produce.

Various reports have indicated that to fatten their animals or prolong the shelf life of their farm produce, farmers and traders use chemical substances such as Anti-Retroviral drugs to feed pigs and formalin to preserve meat.

Moreover, some of the pesticides such as Mancozeb that are used by tomato farmers are retained in the produce that farmers send to the market. Indeed, an analysis by Emmanuel Kaye showed that market samples had 0.77+0.49mg/kg of Mancozeb. This puts tomato consumers at risk of abnormal thyroid function, cancer and other diseases.

With a survey done by Anti-Counterfeit Network covering Mbale and Sironko in March 2022, it shows that 50% of the seeds and agro-inputs on the market were fake. A 2017 World Bank assessment also showed that 30% of herbicides across Uganda contain less than 75% of the active ingredient that is advertised.

Fake agrochemicals result in the exploitation of farmers and poor productivity. The use of agro-chemicals also presents challenges for the consumers of the farm produce and environmental conservation efforts.

Available information indicates that only 23% of farmers in Uganda have the recommended training in pesticide use including pesticide application techniques, storage and safety measures. The misuse of agrochemicals affects soil biodiversity and causes human health problems.

Uganda’s agricultural sector is dominated by small holder farmers many of whom find it hard to access credit from financial institutions. This is because the banks charge high interest rates among other factors. Indeed, in 2018, banks’ lending to the agricultural sector, which employs the majority of Ugandans, was only 12.2%. 

Uganda’s interest rates that are charged by Ugandan banks are some of the highest in Africa. In February 2023 for instance, the commercial bank lending rate was 20.24%, according to Bank of Uganda. Expensive farming equipment is also a challenge.

The government has been encouraging farmers to mechanize their agricultural practices to increase efficiency, enhance productivity and attract labor especially the youth among others. However, available information indicates that despite various governments mechanization programmes, 70% of Ugandans employed in the agricultural sector cannot afford machinery.

Framing equipment is priced out of farmers’ range. Moreover, through NAADS among other partners, the government of Uganda procured some agricultural equipment and supplied them to farmers however some of the equipment supplied got mechanical issues and broke down. This equipment such as tractors could not be repaired due to lack of spare parts. Some equipment that is imported in Uganda is also incompatible.

Therefore, I call upon the government to invest more in agricultural sector and address these challenges affecting the sector from realizing its potential such as over-pricing of agricultural inputs, sub-standard agricultural inputs, high interest rates that undermine access to credit for farmers, widespread use of harmful herbicides as well as pesticides and among others so as to make agriculture benefit all Ugandans especially farmers by increasing agricultural productivity.

The government should sensitize farmers on the dangers of poor pesticide and other chemicals’ use and empower citizens and the Ugandan police to arrest farmers and traders who use harmful chemicals to preserve farm produce and ensure all butchers have testing gadgets to ensure that meat sold is not contaminated and qualifies for human consumption. Agro ecology as one of the farming systems which brings healthy and quality food for consumption and market must be recognized.

Olive Atuhaire is a resident in Kampala

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Tilenga project reaches new milestone with 20 million man-hours

TotalEnergies EP Uganda has reached another key milestone on the Tilenga project - the achievement of 20 million man-hours without Lost Time Incidents (LTI). This significant industry milestone was achieved on August 10, 2023, exactly 226 days since the 10 million man-hour mark that was realized in January 2023.

With safety at the core of its operations, TotalEnergies EP Uganda has relentlessly established and maintained a safety culture among its over 8,000 employees and contractors aimed at reinforcing continuous vigilance of all the risks and mitigations in all the Company’s operations.

“At TotalEnergies, Safety is the cornerstone of the Company’s values because at the end of the day, a company that is not safe is not sustainable. We are therefore uncompromising when it comes to Safety. said Philippe GROUEIX, General Manager TotalEnergies EP Uganda.

“The achievement of this milestone reflects our collective commitment towards delivering this complex and large-scale project without accidents and puts us well on our way towards becoming one of the best performing TotalEnergies affiliates in safety. This record is underpinned by our organizational culture, permanent attention to potential risks, systematic implementation of our Safety Golden Rules, leadership commitment, training and involvement of all employees and contractors,” he added.

Cyril CHAMPIGNY, TotalEnergies EP Uganda Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Director commended the role of contractors in the achievement of the safety milestone. “Our HSE strategy is heavily reliant on the strict compliance of not only our staff but all contractors whilst also safeguarding community wellbeing. Therefore, it is important to note that 94% of the man-hours have been executed by our contractors and it is a tremendous reflection of our combined commitment towards minimizing risks and enhancing our safety performance on the Tilenga project”

“Key to our culture is our safety performance. We strive to be world class in everything we do all around the world, and Tilenga is a very important part of that legacy that we hope to instill here in Uganda” said, Kenneth FINDLAY, HSE Manager, McDermott - one of the Tilenga project’s biggest contractor for Engineering, Procurement, Supply, Construction and Commissioning.

A lost time incident (LTI) is an injury sustained on the job by an employee that results in the loss of productive work time for more than 24 hours, permanent disability or even death. The measurement of LTI is a lagging indicator that is aimed at measuring a company’s incidents in the form of past accident statistics.

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