Development partners have tasked government to equitably distribute across the country proceeds from oil extraction to avoid an ‘oil curse’ seen in most African oil-producing countries.
Speaking on behalf of the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF), an umbrella of eight donor countries last Friday, the Norwegian ambassador to Uganda, Susan Eckey, said whereas oil extraction, if properly managed, “will create jobs, spur innovations and bring investment and infrastructure’’ these must be equitably distributed.
“Experience elsewhere shows that without sound oversight of the extractive sector and fair distribution of the benefits accruing from it, its impact can be potentially negative on livelihoods, community relations and the environment,” Ms Eckey, said.
She was speaking at the launch of the Albertine Graben Oil and Gas Districts Association (AGODA), an association of 10 districts in the oil area that seeks to, among others things, oversee compensation of locals affected by oil extraction and creating other survival alternatives. The association is headed by Mr Patrick Okello, the Nwoya District chairperson.
Ms Eckey also asked the government not to overly rely on oil as the sole solution to the country’s poverty alleviation initiative but learn how to manage expectations since oil, on its own, will not transform Uganda and will not make its entire population rich.
“This must be understood from the start so that the government is allowed to use this once-off windfall wisely to invest in a strong, sustainable and diversified economy that benefits not just this generation but that of your children and your children’s children,” Ms Eckey, said.
Mr Okello, said the association will be used as a lobbying tool to cause fairness, transparency and information sharing between authorities and the local communities.
Uganda is expected to start extracting oil in 2019 and it has been looked at as a game changer for the country’s development financing needs. Recently, Tanzania and Uganda agreed to construct a $4b (Shs13.3 trillion) oil pipeline with the aim of connecting Uganda to the Indian Ocean through Tanga Port for exportation purposes.