News / Africa

Uganda’s Oil Sector Faces Criticism Over Transparency

An aerial view of an oil exploration site in Bulisa district, approximately 244 km (152 miles) northwest of Kampala in this undated handout photo from Tullow Oil Uganda, received by Reuters July 4, 2012.An aerial view of an oil exploration site in Bulisa district, approximately 244 km (152 miles) northwest of Kampala in this undated handout photo from Tullow Oil Uganda, received by Reuters July 4, 2012.
x
An aerial view of an oil exploration site in Bulisa district, approximately 244 km (152 miles) northwest of Kampala in this undated handout photo from Tullow Oil Uganda, received by Reuters July 4, 2012.
An aerial view of an oil exploration site in Bulisa district, approximately 244 km (152 miles) northwest of Kampala in this undated handout photo from Tullow Oil Uganda, received by Reuters July 4, 2012.

Uganda’s oil sector is ramping up and many have high hopes for its economic impact on the country.  But some in Uganda are noting concerns over the lack of governmental transparency and help for people affected by oil development projects.  

The discovery of oil in Uganda in 2006 was followed by a largely positive response.  Oil has been heralded as a chance for Uganda to build its economy, and improve development sectors.  Known reserves are estimated at  2 billion to 3.5 billion barrels.  Government ministries and oil companies expect oil production to begin in 2018.

FILE - Fishermen row their boats next to an oil exploration site in Bulisa district, approximately 244 kilometers northwest of Kampala in this undated handout photo from Tullow Oil Uganda, July 2012.FILE - Fishermen row their boats next to an oil exploration site in Bulisa district, approximately 244 kilometers northwest of Kampala in this undated handout photo from Tullow Oil Uganda, July 2012.
x
FILE - Fishermen row their boats next to an oil exploration site in Bulisa district, approximately 244 kilometers northwest of Kampala in this undated handout photo from Tullow Oil Uganda, July 2012.
FILE - Fishermen row their boats next to an oil exploration site in Bulisa district, approximately 244 kilometers northwest of Kampala in this undated handout photo from Tullow Oil Uganda, July 2012.

But some groups have voiced concern about oil revenues in Uganda undermining residents.  In Kabaale Parish, in western Uganda, where a refinery is being built, the government has been evicting local villagers.

The evictions have driven communities into national parks where they must compete with animals for natural resources.  Although the government is supposed to compensate affected persons for their land, only half of the more than 7,000 villagers have received money, and most of them received only a portion of what they were owed.

When Uganda's national budget for 2014/2015 was revealed in June, rights groups noted there was no provision for those waiting on compensation.

Global Rights Alert legal officer Belinda Katuramu explains the situation.

'There is no allocation for them, people who have not been paid yet or people who have resettled.  They have to build modern villages, they have to build assets, and boreholes and schools and hospitals and all that is lacking in the document.  And yet, there is a provision for beginning the refinery project which is next year.  ... So I think it is that lack of a balance that made the budget and whoever drafted it that made it impractical,” said Katuramu.

Critics say Uganda lacks a cohesive petroleum policy, with poor local governance, a lack of transparency, and limited local access to oil resources.

Skepticism over benefits

A 2012 survey found 50 percent of Ugandans are not confident oil revenues will have any impact on their lives.  But Ugandan lawmakers are readying a Public Finance Bill to try to restore confidence.  The bill will focus largely on the national petroleum fund and financing training programs created to employ welders and drivers.

Katuramu says there is still skepticism of the Public Finance Bill.

"The independence of URA, Bank of Uganda, because they will be handling the oil money their independence will be paramount, because now in the Public Finance Bill you do not see that, you see that all these independent institutions are dependent on the minister.  And also the vagueness of different clauses on procedure, it is very important that it is clear," said Katuramu.

The Bank of Uganda has agreed to regularly publish figures on the Petroleum Investment Fund while all withdrawals must be made public, but those like Katuramu say the lack of an independent oversight committee to manage the oil sector remains a problem.

Total, Tullow Oil, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, and the Petroleum Exploration and Production Department declined to be interviewed for this story.  

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs