A multi-stakeholder dialogue was held on 17th April 2018 at Hotel Africana to discuss the oil and gas sector in Uganda. The meeting was kick-started by NTV journalist Charles Mwambasa who welcomed the participants. Mwambasa stated that the aim of the meeting was to facilitate a dialogue between Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the government on the topic of oil and gas.
During her opening remarks, H. E. Susan Eckey, the Norwegian Ambassador to Uganda, described the Oil for Development program which was implemented in Uganda in 2006 and is now coming to the end of phase II. The Oil for Development Program is Norwegian funded and offers assistance to developing countries in their effort to manage petroleum resources in a sustainable manner. It is worth noting that the Oil for Development Program targets poverty reduction through responsible management of petroleum resources. In her conclusion, H.E affirmed Norwegian support towards facilitating constructive CSO and government dialogues on oil and gas.
During the meeting, three different presentations were made to inform the audience on the importance of oil and gas to the Ugandan economy and to also bring to light the CSO perspective on the issue at hand.
The Effect of Oil and Gas
This presentation was made by Mr. Hans Peter Christophersen, the Trade and Energy Counselor with the Norwegian Embassy. His pictorial presentation majorly centered on his experience in the energy industry in various countries including the United States, Russia, Norway and now, Uganda. Christophersen noted that oil and gas has the potential to create about 11,000 – 15,000 jobs. As he concluded his discussion, Christophersen noted that many things of the world should not be measured by GDP alone but by the metrics of health, education and political freedom.
Status of the Oil and Gas Sector in Uganda
The status of the oil and gas sector presented by Mr. Honey Malinga, the Commissioner with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, was an all-encompassing presentation which included the achievements and challenges of phase II (2015-2018) and plans for phase III (2018-2022).
Ms. Christine Nantongo, the CSO representative from Maendeleo Ya Jamii, focused on the voices from civil society. In her presentation, she noted that the government views CSOs as enemies which explains why there is limited access to information, especially on the level of disbursement of funds on oil and gas in Uganda. She further discussed the government’s perception that CSOs have limited knowledge on oil and gas. She concluded by recommending that the engagement between CSO and government improve.
Some of the participants from the Local Government criticized their limited involvement on oil and gas issues in their area. They emphasized that the central government does not involve them on the discussions that affect their people and that there is limited transparency and accountability in the oil and gas sector. In addition, the participants noted that there is no interlink between the oil and gas sector and other sectors.
FOWODE is on the edge of completing her 10 year strategic plan whose focus under the Gender Justice in Economic Policy will be on sectors such as oil and gas that engage a majority of women. To further cement this, the discussion between an Official from the Embassy and the FOWODE representative clearly indicated that there are gender issues which are not factored into plans or budgets in the oil and gas sector due to limited engagement on gender responsive planning and budgeting.
The oil and gas sector is a relatively new sector characterized by limited knowledge and skills, not only for those engaged directly through the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, but also other actors such as CSOs and Academia. If handled well, this sector has the potential to catapult Uganda from a low developed country to a middle income country. This meeting therefore set the trajectory on which FOWODE will engage in the Oil and Gas sector in the next 10 years.
Compiled by Stephen Okello, Program Officer, Gender and Economic Policy Program