The Government of Uganda has applauded the recent agreement that will see Tullow Oil Plc transferring its assets for Lake Albert Development project and the proposed East African Crude Oil Pipeline System to Total Uganda at $575 million (Sh57.5 billion).
According to the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, “it is a critical development that takes the (Oil and Gas) sector towards the Final Investment Decision (FID) that the country is eagerly waiting for”.
That joy isn’t however shared with communities in Western parts of Uganda. They are deeply concerned that if the Ugandan government allows the presence of oil activities in the eco-sensitive areas such as the Ngaji block which have been put up for bidding to the investors, their lives will be ruined because they have depended on the tourism for their livelihood which will disappear.
If the government allows the oil exploration in the Ngaji oil block, which is located in the ecosensitive Lake Edward and Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP), this seriously will put such sensitive ecosystems at risk, triggering the slow but certain disappearance of the rich ecological, economic and social importance of such ecosystems. Agriculture, fisheries, tourism, and other income-generating activities for local communities are also likely to be negatively impacted.
Communities and activists are also worried about oil exploitation activities will also result in the generation and release of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, which goes against the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement ratified by Uganda.
As the world is going through a terrible situation of preventing and ending global coronavirus pandemic, Uganda, like all other signatories to the Paris Agreement should be more concerned about a Just Recovery Plan that focuses on health emergencies, addresses the urgent needs of people and support public health systems currently under severe strain. As of April 26th, the country has a total number of 75 COVID-19 confirmed cases.
By Edwin Mumbere – Kasese