The House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda (Anglican) has been urged to support the development of the oil and gas sector in Uganda.
Energy and Mineral Development Minister, Dr Ruth Nankabirwa, says the clerics’ support is key given the significant positive impact the sector has and will continue to have on Uganda.
“The oil and gas sector can enhance Uganda’s economic and social development by providing access to affordable energy (access to electricity is 60% in urban areas and about 18% in rural areas), opportunities for decent employment, business, and skills development, increased fiscal revenues, and improved Infrastructure,” she says.
Dr Nankabirwa explains that whereas it is true that the international oil price environment has changed in recent years, Uganda has benefited from the significantly low cost of developing her oil and gas projects.
“And this has improved the profitability of Uganda’s oil projects, and hence improved the expected Government revenue which every Ugandan must support,” adds Dr Nankabirwa.
She explains that the implementation of the oil and gas projects in Uganda, especially putting in place the infrastructure presents enormous opportunities for fast tracking the country’s development through, among other things, the participation of Ugandans and Ugandan enterprises in providing the required goods and services.
“The key areas of focus in progressing national content include employment of Ugandans, skills development and capacity building, enterprise development, use of locally produced goods and services together with transfer of knowledge and technology”, the minister adds.
She says environmental activists campaigning against the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) are against Uganda’s development adding that these are deliberate misrepresentations of facts related to environmental protection and human rights.
Quoting from the Bible in the book of Psalms 21, His Grace the Most Rev Dr Samuel Kaziimba Mugalu, the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, says God has entrusted to His people the earth and everything in it as lords.
“This calls on us to be good stewards and ensure proper management of the God given earthly wealth. As the church, we must provide the oversight and guidance required and that is why we need this knowledge. Without knowledge, people perish,” says Dr Kazimba.
The Executive Director at the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU), Mr Ernest Rubondo, re-assures the clergy on the progress of land acquisition allaying fears of the delay in compensation.
“The land acquisition process provides for a 30% disturbance allowance and now an additional 15% payment per year, over and above the approved compensation to cater for the delays. All affected persons will be compensated by end of 2022”, says Mr Rubondo.
Adding: “The Project Affected Persons (PAPs) have been compensated or resettled and are undertaking livelihood restoration projects in agriculture, financial literacy and vocational skills among others. No land will be utilised by the projects before the compensation processes are concluded.”
The Bishop of South Ankole Diocese, the Rt Rev Nathan Ahimbisibwe, says “if this [oil] treasure is well managed, Uganda will see socio-economic progress.”
The church leaders urge government to ensure that the benefits are seen by the local communities through positive discrimination but also ensure that Uganda reaps from the oil and gas sector as a country.
They urge government to continue sensitising Ugandans including local government leaders.
This when the minister was Monday meeting the House of Bishops chaired by Archbishop Dr Kaziimba at Bushara Island in Kabale district.