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12 Sep 2018

Diana Nabiruma (Africa Institute for Energy Governance ), in Africa Centre for Media Excellence (Uganda)

Opinion: Oil discovery in Uganda portends more harm than good for local communities

"Op-ed – Uganda’s hope in oil benefits is misplaced"

Since the discovery of commercial oil deposits by Uganda in 2006, government has led citizens to believe that oil will address the challenge of poverty in Uganda. Indeed, the goal of Uganda’s 2008 National Oil and Gas Policy is to “contribute to the early achievement of poverty eradication and create lasting value to society”...Understandably, there is hope in some quarters of the population that oil will make Ugandans richer. This hope is misplaced, in my opinion.

...[The] Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO)...[has] documented impacts of oil on livelihoods or economic opportunities for oil host communities. We have also documented the impact of oil on the environment, which supports agriculture, Uganda’s pre-dominant economic activity, culture and gender equity (over 51% of Uganda’s population and therefore labour force is female and as such, any impact on them due to oil activities impacts the available labour force) among others...

Should Ugandans therefore be euphoric about oil production? It is true that a small section of the population will enjoy financial benefits from oil. For the general population and oil host communities however, oil portends more harm, which is already being seen in the form of land grabbing in the oil region, payment of low compensation for oil-affected communities and others. Ugandans should therefore promote a just energy transition to cleaner energy sources such as solar that do not harm the environment, and vulnerable populations.