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

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs