Uganda has finally been approved to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a move expected to make open the deals the country has signed with various organisations in the oil and gas sector and other natural resources.
Now, Uganda becomes the 54th member of the organisation and the 26th in Africa.
A statement released today (Wednesday) EITI Board Chair, Ms Helen Clark, said the “EITI implementation can help lay the foundation for transparent and accountable management of the country’s natural resource wealth.”
EITI requires Uganda to publicly disclose information such as contracts, beneficial owners, revenues, and payments, including payments related to the environment. These disclosures can in turn promote public oversight and debate. Uganda is expected to make the first disclosures within 18 months after joining.
The approval of Uganda’s membership will be good news to civil society that has for long called on the country to join and make open the deals it has signed in the extractive’s sector including oil and gas. It will also raise confidence that Uganda is committed to transparency.
Finance, Planning and Economic Development Minister, Mr Matia Kasaija, said in a statement that “the decision to join the EITI was informed by the appreciation of the value of transparency as we progress our plans to develop Uganda’s natural resource wealth.”
He added that “We believe that this initiative has the potential to strengthen tax collection, improve the investment climate, build trust among sector stakeholders and help create lasting value from our mineral and petroleum resources.”
Uganda has 6.5 billion barrels of oil with between 1.4 and 1.7 billion barrels commercially viable. How Uganda deals with its oil reserves is being widely watched. The country has delayed production trying to put together a legal regime that will guide its utilisation.
Besides oil, Uganda has a myriad of resources including iron ore, gold, copper, cobalt, and limestone.
EITI ensures that scrutiny is made on whatever government does with the country’s resources. Uganda approved the decision to join the EITI in January last year and submitted an application in July this year.