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Civil Society

  • Local governments demand exclusive rights to licence artisanal miners

    Mineral–rich districts of Uganda want to be granted exclusive rights to licence and regulate artisanal miners in their respective districts.  “In the new law, licensing of artisanal miners should be made a preserve of local governments in the mining areas,” Mr. John Asiimwe, Buhweju district chairman said.  Buhweju is one the gold mining districts in the country.

    Asiimwe was speaking during a consultative meeting on the Mining and Minerals Bill, 2019 at Oxford Hotel in Mbarara.  The meeting was organised by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) in partnership with Global Rights Alert – a civil society organisation.

    Asiimwe argues that the current Mining Act, 2003, centralizes licensing authority in the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM) which is even under-staffed to inspect and monitor the activities of artisanal miners.

    “This power [to licence artisanal miners] should be decentralised. Let licencing and regulation be left to respective districts. However, the bill maintains the old order of licensing that excludes local governments,” he emphasised.  

    In its current form, the bill takes away licencing powers of the Director of the DGSM and vests them in the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development except for building substances (development minerals). Asiimwe expressed gratitude that the bill at least recognises the rights of artisanal and small scale miners. The bill establishes a framework for licensing, regulation and monitoring of artisanal mining activities and collection of revenues from artisanal miners. It replaces location licences with artisanal mining permits.

    According to the bill, artisanal mining permits are a preserve of only Ugandan citizens, cooperative societies, registered associations comprising of exclusively Ugandan citizens or registered companies where 100 percent of shares are held by Ugandans.

    In its current form, the bill only grants powers to local governments to licence and regulate artisanal exploitation of building substances (development minerals) in collaboration with the DGSM. Building substances also known as Low Value Minerals or development minerals include stones (quarrying), sand, clay and murram. These were previously un-regulated under the Mining Act, 2003.

    ROYALTIES

    Asiimwe also expressed concern over the sharing of mineral royalties. According to the Mining Act, 2003, royalties are shared among central government (80 percent), local governments (17 percent) and land owners (3 percent). The bill maintains the formulae for sharing royalties.

    “What criteria were used in determining the formulae? We need an equitable format for sharing of royalties and not the central government taking everything and leaving left-overs to local governments and land owners,” Asiimwe said.

    Participants in the meeting proposed a change in the formulae of sharing royalties. They proposed central government should take 50 percent, district local governments, 40 percent while the 10 percent should go to the land owners.

    Vicent Kedi, the Principal Engineer in charge of mining at the DGSM welcomed proposals from stakeholders, especially mining communities.  “The draft bill is just a working document to direct discussions. Therefore, consultations are meant to come up with a document [law] that is agreeable to all Ugandans,” Kedi said. Recently, government launched national-wide consultations on the bill, before it is tabled in parliament for enactment.

    By; Edward Ssekika, Edited by Muhumuza Didas

  • CSOs want EITI principles to be enacted into a local law

    CSOs’ argument is based on the voluntary nature of EITI principles and therefore there is need for legally binding local framework with sanctions for non-compliance.

    A section of civil society organisations wants Uganda’s government to enact Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) principles into a local law.  In an open letter dated August 12, 2019 and addressed to the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED), Hon. Matia Kasaija – in whose docket EITI falls, civil society organisations argue that since EITI principles on transparency and accountability are voluntary, there is need to translate them into a legally binding local law with sanctions for non- compliance.

    “Government has set October 2019 as the month in which the country will formally apply to join the EITI. However, while we appreciate government’s efforts to join EITI, we note with grave concern that events taking place in the country today show that government is not ready to join and make proper use of the EITI,” a letter signed by 15 civil society organisations reads in part.

    In their letter, CSOs argue that there are many cases that show lack of commitment to transparency on part of government including failure to implement relevant laws such as the 2015 Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). Since the enactment of the PFMA in 2015, government has continued to violate its provisions on transparency and accountability with impunity, CSOs claim. The PFMA provides for the collection, management and utilisation of Uganda’s oil revenues in a transparent and accountable manner.

    “In the presence of such abuses, it is clear that unless fundamental reforms in government are undertaken as part of the EITI process, there is little hope, if any, that joining EITI will help address the problems of lack of transparency and accountability for Uganda’s oil revenues,” the letter reads.

    For instance, the Shs 6 billion reward paid to 42 government officials for their participation in the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) negotiations and engagements against Tullow Oil in Landon – popularly known as the ‘Presidential handshake’ is a clear illustration of wasteful expenditures.  In addition, government has since not fully implemented the recommendations from the report on Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprise (COSASE) that investigated the reward.

    “Such a government cannot be trusted to comply with EITI principles which are voluntary. An executive that refuses to be held accountable and disrespects parliamentary decisions is unlikely to comply with EITI principles,” CSOs argue in their open letter.

    The letter adds, “This non-compliance with a binding law creates suspicion that government will not respect and comply with the EITI principles which are voluntary,” the letter reads in part.

    “Government should ensure that after joining EITI, an EITI bill is tabled before parliament to enact an EITI law in Uganda. To enable compliance to the EITI law, the law should provide for formation of a multi-stakeholder committee with representatives from government, CSOs, cultural leaders, religious leaders, academics and the private sector. The committee should among other things be the overall overseer of the Petroleum Fund, the Petroleum Investment Fund and should be responsible for the selection of development projects to be funded with oil revenues. The law should provide that the decisions of the committee are binding on government,” the letter reads.

    Ntegyereize Gard Benda, the Chairperson Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Uganda chapter concurs. “The only sanction that the EITI provides is a suspension which may not matter to government. Therefore, it is important that we have domestic safeguards in terms of a law to compliment the voluntary EITI principles,” Benda argues. 

    By: Edward SsekikaEdited by Muhumuza Didas

  • EACOP affected districts want more jobs for local people

    Local people from districts that will be traversed by the East African Crude Oil Export Pipeline (EACOP) project want government and oil companies to grant special treatment in the oil pipeline related jobs. Government and joint venture partners – Total E&P Uganda, CNOOC Uganda Ltd and Tullow Oil Uganda are currently engaged in land acquisition processes for the pipeline.

    “At the beginning of the project, we were told that our local people with the requisite qualifications, would be given jobs. But now, even Community Liaison Officers (CLOs) and even drivers are from other districts,” George William Katokoozi, the Chairman, Sembabule District Land Board (DLB) recently told Oil in Uganda. He explained that excluding pipeline host communities from oil jobs is setting a bad precedent and could be the beginning of the “oil curse”. “We have some of our sons and daughters who are qualified. We have drivers from Sembabule, why can they not be given jobs in New Plan, ICS and other companies working on the EACOP. Why are our local people being discriminated against?” Katokoozi angrily wondered.

    The 1,445 kilometre heated pipeline will traverse the districts of Hoima, Kikuube, Kakumiro, Gomba, Sembabule, Lwengo, Kyotera & Rakai on the Ugandan side. These districts will host a series of infrastructure projects such as construction camps, pump and heating stations among others. Speaking at Mbirizi Catholic Social Centre in Lwengo district, Ssensalire Christopher, Lwengo district Vice Chairman concurred with Katokoozi. Ssensalire wants EACOP related companies to put a certain percentage of qualified local persons they should employ from EACOP affected districts. “One of the ways through which our local people can benefit from the oil and gas sector is local employment. So, our people are side-lined, as leaders we get concerned,” Ssensalire said.

    FEARS

    Local leaders also expressed fears that some of the irregularities experienced in land acquisition for the proposed oil refinery could be repeated in land acquisition for the pipeline. “We have heard complaints of delays in compensation from people in Hoima [people affected by the oil refinery]. We need an assurance that such delays will not be repeated in the EACOP affected districts. It is a fear calling for serious action and is expressed by the project affected persons,” Ssensalire said.  He asked government to consider training project affected persons (PAPs) on financial literacy before compensation to ensure that PAPs do not put compensation money to waste.

    “There are some things they may not do to save, so leaders should be vigilant.  He challenged leaders in Rakai and Kyotera to understand the value of compensation rates and fight to get fair rates. They should mind about their people. Leaders should work for the interest of their people,” he explained.

    Ssenyonjo Stephen, Chairperson Local Council III of Lwebitakuli Sub-county, Sembabule district asked district leaders where the oil pipeline passes to press government to have meaningful Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for better delivery of benefits to the local populations.

    By: Edward Ssekika,Edited by Muhumuza Didas

  • Oil money: Is gov’t emptying the Petroleum Fund?

    Finance Minister Matia Kasaija

    Latest reports on the inflows, outflows and assets of the Fund reveal a patterns of irregular withdrawals of monies to the consolidated fund to finance budget deficits.

    A new report from the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development reveal that has withdrawn Shs 200bn from the Petroleum Fund to finance budget deficits. A semi-annual report to Parliament on the inflows, outflows and assets of the petroleum fund for the period ended 31st December, 2018 indicate the money was withdrawn to finance the 2018/2019 budget priorities. The report is authored by Matia Kasaija, the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.

    According to the report, by June 2018, the Fund had Shs 507 billion mainly from Capital Gains Tax, surface rentals, technology and training fees from oil companies as well as signature bonuses from the signing of Production Sharing Agreements with Nigeria’s Oranto Petroleum Limited and Australia’s Armour Energy Ltd.

    According to the report, the Fund stands at Shs 288.7bn as at December, 2018.  “This is a reduction in the Fund value reported as in June 2018 report, which stood at Shs 507 billion,” the report notes. “The report details the status of the Fund for six months ending 31st, December, 2018.

    “In accordance with section 61(1) of the Public Finance Management Act, 2015 as amended, this is to lay on table the semi-annual report of the Petroleum Fund for the financial year 2018/2019,” Kasaija’s wrote in a letter forwarding the report to the Speaker of Parliament. Kasaija’s letter is dated March, 28th, 2019. The Public Finance and Accountability Act, 2015, mandates the Minister of Finance to report to parliament on the status of the Fund in terms of inflows, outflows and assets every after six months.

    Justifying the withdrawals, Lawrence Semakula, the Accountant General recently said, “We have all these priorities such as financing infrastructure, so what do we do when we have a deficit. Rather than go out and borrow, we would rather use the money from the Fund,” he told Members Parliament.

    The report notes that since production has not yet started, nil volumes and values of petroleum production have been reported.

    “The further notes that during the reporting period, URA collected petroleum related taxes worth Shs 30.3bn of which Shs 2.5bn had not been submitted to the Fund by closing of the reporting period,” the report reads in part.

    WORRYING TREND

    Analysing the audited reports from the Petroleum reveal a trend of withdrawals that the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) has sometimes described as irregular.  For instance, a report for 2017 reveals that in November, 2017 Shs 125 billion was transferred from the Petroleum Fund to the consolidated fund to finance budget. Another Shs 200bn was also withdrawn from the Fund to the consolidated fund to finance 2018/2019 budget priorities.

    The Auditor General in a report to parliament described the withdrawal as irregular since it didn’t follow the procedures and processes laid down in the Public Finance and Accountability Act, 2015. The same Act, ring fences oil revenues to finance only infrastructure projects following an Appropriation Act.

    BANK ACCOUNT IN NEW YORK

    The Petroleum Fund is maintained in two separate accounts in the Bank of Uganda (BoU) –one account denominated in Uganda Shilling (UGX) and another in United States Dollars. “Another account was opened in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to facilitate investments of the fund under the Petroleum Revenue Investment Reserve,” the report reads in part.

    Edward Ssekika

  • Kingfisher Public hearings concluded

    Government concluded two public hearings of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report for the Kingfisher development project. The hearings were conducted at Rwemisanga Primary school in Kikuube district and at Kabaale Primary school in Hoima district. The hearings which were organised by the Petroleum Authority of Uganda brought together project affected persons, diplomats, CNOOC Uganda, the operator for the Kingfisher oil field and other stakeholders who expressed their opinions and suggestions on the project inorder to influence NEMA’s decision making during the review of ESIA report. CNOOC Uganda Ltd intends to establish petroleum production facilities and support infrastructure in Buhuka parish where crude oil from wells drilled under Lake Albert will be processed and transported via a 46-kilometre feeder pipeline to a delivery point in Kabaale parish in Hoima district. While presenting the ESIA report, the CNOOC Uganda Vice President Mr Cu Yujun said the Kingfisher oil project will yield substantial social and economic benefits for Uganda through increased government revenues, employment opportunities, increased household incomes and expenditure. He said the project will increase the demand for goods and services within the project affected areas. He added that the project will cause human capital development through short and medium term employment opportunities for the people and cause a transfer of knowledge and skills from expatriates to Ugandans. The Kingfisher ESIA report indicates that during the construction, operation and decommissioning of the project, air quality, soils, surface and ground water may be affected. The project is expected to attract immigrants, affect the health, social services and livelihoods of affected persons. It is feared that the project could destroy archeological and cultural sites in the area. According to Mr Cu Yujun, all impacts have been identified and measures have been developed to ensure that negative impacts are mitigated and positive impacts enhanced for communities. CNOOC indicated that there are management plans for air quality, noise and vibration, biodiversity, traffic, waste, influx, cultural heritage and community health. Christopher Busobozi, a resident of Kyangwali subcounty asked CNOOC to increase of education and trainings for Ugandans to enable Ugandans attain the necessary skills to work in the oil industry. Omuhereza Tumwesigye from Kabwooya subcounty expressed worry that oil developments may displace some people and affect their livelihoods. He demanded a plan to improve on livelihoods of project affected persons. Simon Kyahurwa, a resident of Buseruka subcounty told a pre-public hearing dialogue that was organized by Action Aid Uganda that some oil producing states like Nigeria have had challenges where oil pipelines are attacked and cut by militants. He asked Government and oil companies for a plan of how oil pipelines will be protected from attacks and spills. Ms Betty Bagadira, a resident of Tonya parish in Buseruka subcounty expressed concerns over women and the elderly being displaced by the project and being marginalized. However, the CNOOC Uganda’s Senior Public relations supervisor Ms Aminah Bukenya said the project will address the concerns which people raised at the public hearings in line with CNOOC’s strategy of win-win for the company and people affected by the oil developments. The Buhaguzi County Member of parliament whose constituency hosts the Kingfisher oil field said locals are worried of increased cases of land grabbing in the area since commercially viable oil deposits were discovered in the constituency. He asked Government to undertake systematic land demarcation and titling to enhance land tenure security of his people. He asked CNOOC to support the planting of indigenous tree species, improve community livelihoods, promote conservation of forests and wetlands and asked Government to take leaders in oil rich areas to oil producing states so that they obtain knowledge and skills about how the petroleum industry operates. The PAU Director of Technical Support Services Ms Peninah Aheebwa who represented the PAU Executive Director said the hearings gave an opportunity to Government and CNOOC to hear public concerns so that negative impacts are mitigated and the benefits of the project are optimized. She said proposals raised by the public will be put into consideration by the relevant Government organs before the project is given a green light to proceed. She said adequate measures will be put in place to address the environmental and social threats of the project. The Public hearings were presided over by Prof Grace Bantebya, a Makerere University lecturer. She said the oil can bring joy and tears to a country. “This gigantic sector can change us either way” she said. She asked stakeholders to lay strategies of making the oil industry a blessing so that the sector helps Uganda in attaining some of the sustainable development goals. Kingfisher is one of the oil projects in Uganda which Government is developing in line with Uganda’s journey to kick start commercial oil production in 2022. Story by Francis Mugerwa Edited by Flavia Nalubega Edited by Didas Muhumuza

  • Govt to conduct public hearings for the Kingfisher oil project

    Extractives Governance Project Coordinator Didas Muhumuza speaking to the media about youth engagement and involvement in the oil sector at a recently ended Pakasa Forum organised by ActionAid Int. Uganda and other partners.

    AAIU to conduct pre-hearing and community engagements to prepare communities to engage government

    The Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) will next week(19th-21st June, 2019) hold a Public hearing for the Environmental and Social impact Assessment for Kingfisher oil project among affected communities.

    “The public is further notified that there will be two public hearings Wednesday 19th June 2019 at Rwemisanga primary school in Kyangwali subcounty in Kikuube district and Friday 21st June 2019 at Kabaale primary school in Buseruka subcounty in Hoima district from 9am to 5Pm” a public notice released by PAU this morning reads in part.

    The public hearings will be held in accordance with the National Environmental regulations 1998.

    The hearings bring together the developer and relevant stakeholders to express opinions and offer suggestions on the proposed project to influence the decision making process during the review of the ESIA.

    The Kingfisher oil project is located on the south Eastern side of Lake Albert in Buhuka parish, Kyangwali subcounty in Kikuube district.

    In 2012, Government awarded an oil production license to CNOOC Uganda Ltd to develop and operate the Kingfisher oil field.

    Funders

    The project will be funded by CNOOC Uganda, Total Exploration and Production Uganda (TEPU), Tullow Uganda Operations Pty Ltd (TUOP) and Uganda National Oil Company which represents Uganda’s business interests in the oil industry.

    The project component includes development of four well pads that will hold 20 production oil wells and 11 water injection wells.

    The project will have a Central Processing facility (CPF), flowlines to transport well fluids from production wells to the CPF.

    The project will also have a 46kilometre-long feeder pipeline to transport crude oil from the CPF at Kingfisher field development area to a delivery point located at Kabaale parish in Hoima district.

    The design of the project indicates that the project will have camps to host oil workers, a materials lay down yard, a jetty, and airfield and infield access roads.

    PAU is yet to announce the presiding officer of the hearings. However, the first hearings for the Tilenga oil project were presided over by Dr Fred Kabagambe Kaliisa, a former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral development.

    “PAU’s role as a regulator is to ensure that oil and gas activities create value for the country and more so to the host communities. The ESIA process is also meant to ensure that all views of stakeholders are known and addressed. So we welcome feedback” Gloria Sebikari, a manager of corporate affairs and Public relations at PAU told oil in Uganda.

    CSOs petition

    On 14th May, fifteen civil society organisations led by the African Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) wrote to the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) expressing reservations about the Kingfisher oil project.

    “The undersigned CSOs note with concern that the Kingfisher project area is an area with critical ecosystems including Lake Albert, Bugoma Central Forest Reserve, Kamansinig River, River Nile and others. The project area also has communities that entirely depend on fishing for food, income and other critical aspects. The project must therefore be handled with utmost care and Uganda’s laws must be abided by to avoid or minimize oil impacts on the environment and communities” the petition which was delivered to NEMA on 14th May reads in part.

    The Non-Technical Summary (NTS) of the Kingfisher oil project ESIA report states that the mitigations for the social and economic impacts of the land acquisitions under the Kingfisher project and resettlement activities shall be in the Resettlement Action Plans (RAPs). However, CSOs observed that  these RAPs are not part of the Kingfisher ESIA report.

    If the RAPs are not part of the current ESIA report, it means that the developer presented an incomplete ESIA to NEMA and therefore any comments will be based on incomplete reports, the petition signed off by the AFIEGO Chief Executive officer Dickens Kamugisha.

    “This is contrary to the objective that necessitated Uganda’s shift from the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regime to the ESIA regime. Undertaking and reviewing an ESIA requires that one assesses the environmental and social impacts of any proposed project as one component” Kamugisha who is a lawyer, says.

    The Kingfisher ESIA report notes that a road will be constructed through Bugoma forest to support the Kingfisher oil project activities. In addition to the roads, a feeder pipeline for the Kingfisher project, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), an airfield in Buhuka and other infrastructure are being planned.

    “These developments will open up the forest in particular and the oil region at large to an influx of people who will migrate to the oil region in search of jobs and other oil related opportunities. This will negatively impact on local community livelihoods and will result in degradation of Bugoma forest. Consequently, there will be a reduction in income from tourism and the role Bugoma forest plays in the provision of water to the entire catchment will be compromised” the CSOs stated.

    The CSOs asked the developers of the Kingfisher oil project to present detailed plan with a budget, work plan and timelines to show how the Bugoma central forest reserve will be protected from the direct and indirect dangers of oil exploitation.

    The ESIA report indicates that millions of cubic metres of water will be extracted from Lake Albert for oil activities.

    “However, there is no framework for addressing conflicts over the utilisation of the Lake Albert waters and other resources such as fish by DRC and Uganda. The two countries continue to conflict over the boundaries of the lake. With the proposed extraction of huge amounts of water from Lake Albert by the Kingfisher oil project, it is not clear how the DRC will react to the decision considering that Uganda and DRC have in the recent past been conflicting over Lake Albert to the extent that since discovery of oil in 2006, some people including a Heritage Oil company Engineer have been killed on the lake due to conflicts” the petition said.

    ActionAid to conduct pre-hearings

    ActionAid International Uganda will hold sub pre-community engagement sessions to enable better preparation for meaningful participation and involvement of community members in the public hearings and other subsequent processes.

    These shall be held in Hoima, Buseruka, Kikuube and Kyangwali districts starting 18th to 20th June 2019.

    According to AAU’s Extractives Project Coordinator Didas Muhumuza, AAIU has carried out such engagements before in Buliisa that created real time debate, a move that PAU, NEMA and the oil companies appreciated and equally engaged to ensure that communities are satisfied with possible benefit from the sector.

    Oil in Uganda correspondent in Bunyoro

  • Domesticating the Africa Mining Vision: Where Civil Society Stands

    The Africa Mining Vision (AMV) is a policy framework established by the African Union in 2009 to promote equitable, broad-based development through prudent exploitation and utilization of the continent’s natural wealth.

    The ambitious goal of the AMV is “to foster transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of Africa’s mineral resources to underpin broad based sustainable growth and socio-economic development.”

    The AMV is labeled ambitious as it calls for the creation of ‘a regime of responsibility for natural resource extraction in African countries.” This means it addresses key areas of interest that have long cast a spotlight on the exploitative nature of conducting business between multi-national companies and governments where the former are associated with hemorrhaging of the continent’s resources through tax evasion coupled with illicit financial flows from the mineral sector and the later mortgaging their countries’ resources in unfair selfish contracts shrouded in non-disclosure agreements.

    This cocktail of issues often leaves the countries’ citizens wallowing in poverty as the mineral resource wealth does not translate into opportunities and social economic development.

    The AMV is described as a game changer in the continent’s mineral sector, according to Oxfarm, in their 2017 briefing paper, From Aspiration to Reality: Unpacking the AMV, as it “comprehensively addresses the challenges associated with harnessing Africa’s mineral resources for sustainable development, while striving to reflect global norms for the equitable governance of the natural resources sectors.”

    Ideally the AMV addresses six major areas of intervention namely; improving the quality of geological data which leads to fairer deals and more equitable returns on mineral sector investments; contract negotiation capacity; resource governance; management of mineral wealth; addressing infrastructure constraints; and elevating artisanal and small scale mining by acknowledging its developmental role thereby harnessing this potential through formalization and integration into local and regional economic development.

    AMV Progress

    AU member states are required to adopt the AMV fully, align national mineral sector policies with the provisions of the framework and implement it through derivative policy instruments including the Country Mining Vision, African Mineral Governance Framework and Compact with the Private Sector – while maintaining an integrated, strategic vision for national development.

    Experts however say the slow pace of implementation of the AMV since its inception risks failing its major aspirations. The Brief cites that there is low awareness of the potential opportunities for the AMV to address grievances in communities experiencing the negative environmental and social effects of mineral extraction.

    Notably, civil society, which has been at the forefront of struggles to put Africa’s mineral sector at the heart of strategies for inclusive, equitable development is making baby steps towards mobilising to engage with the national implementation of the AMV in terms of grassroots mobilization and policy advocacy in Uganda.

    In promoting strategies for inclusive, equitable development civil society has been urged to popularize the AMV’s goals of: recognizing the contribution of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) to local economic development, and promoting women’s rights and gender justice; advocating for a progressive fiscal regime to curb the hemorrhaging of the continent’s resources through tax evasion and avoidance plus illicit financial flows from the mineral sector thereby promoting transparency in the management of mineral resource revenues and the accountability of states and corporate actors in their relations with mining-affected communities and citizens; upholding the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) for mining-affected communities; and addressing the social and environmental impacts of mining.

    As with a number of non-governmental organisations across, ActionAid International Uganda runs a specific project on Extractives Governance and works with several stakeholders in the sub sector, particularly artisanal and small-scale miners (and government) to uphold and promote the AMV.

    Chris Musiime who works with African Centre for Mineral Policy says that there is a lack of a sense of ownership of the AMV concept by Ugandan NGOs and non-alignment with oil and gas which they consider a hot topic at the moment.

    “Although the AMV can be perceived as universal in terms of resource management, it remains hugely biased towards mining. At the time it came about, mining was not a big deal here and almost all NGOs were concentrating on oil and gas. Thus it was not an easy fit into the NGO work at the time. If you recall, many NGOs including ActionAid were mad about EITI but never mentioned AMV yet EITI principles are generally represented in the AMV,” he said.

    He contends that Civil society needs to familiarise themselves with the AMV first of all, how it came about, why Uganda signed up, and the particular role set aside in the AMV for civil society then pick out what applies to Uganda and set on developing a country specific document for Uganda.

    “With the new Minerals Policy, Petroleum Laws and on-going review of the Mining and Minerals Act as well as Uganda accepting to join EITI, CSOs have to remain updated with all these processes if they are to remain relevant. Secondly, they should follow up with the Government Department responsible for the domestication of AMV, am not sure if it’s MOFA or MEMD or both. Gain networks there and understand the challenges they have and see how to help them. AMV domestication cannot be done by NGOs alone. It has to be a partnership.”

    Didas Muhumuza, the Manager Extractives Governance Project at ActionAid International Uganda says the project has already embarked on some work around the AMV. He views that the AMV is a top-bottom high level initiative whose formulation and development did not include comprehensive stakeholder consultations and engagement. “It thus requires practical domestication through local involvement and participation by stakeholders in the derivation of the framework. The only opportunity available now is to ensure that the derivation of the Country Mining Vision for Uganda is done through a bottom-up process to enable realistic consideration of the local stakeholders concerns,” Muhumuza emphasized.

    There are takeaway points for the civil society to do more about actualizing the AMV as outlined in the brief by Oxfam.

    ‘Civil society should proactively engage in policy advocacy, research and analysis of the AMV, focus on civic space and social participation, women’s rights and gender justice and environmental plus social sustainability, in order to elicit policy reforms by African governments and the Pan-African policy institutions to address the shortcomings in the framework,” it says.

    It also urges stakeholders (especially Civil Society actors to undertake popular campaigns to raise awareness of the AMV and its benefits to African citizens and mining-affected communities, to ensure that the interests of non-state actors are addressed in the Country Mining Visions.

    By Robert Mwesigye

    Edited by Flavia Nalubega

    Edited by Didas Muhumuza

  • Ministry of Energy launches Biometric Registration of ASMs in Uganda

    A landmark event in the mining sector of Uganda as the country positions extractives industries as the engine for social and economic development saw the launch of the biometric registration of artisanal miners’ project on 29th March 2019. The project is geared towards formalizing and regulating the activities of ASMs in the country to realise and actualize their developmental role in the sector as Uganda works towards achieving her development agenda as enshrined in the Vision 2040. Speaking at the launch, Hon. Peter Lokeris, State Minister for Minerals Development noted that government recognizes the development role of the ASM sub-sector, which must be well organized to realize its full potential. Engineer Vincent Kedi, the Acting Commissioner for Geological Survey and Mines, hailed the different Civil Society Organizations that are working with the sector to make it better. He hailed ActionAid Uganda for coming on board to work with government to harness the potential of the sector through supporting vital efforts like today’s event and those aimed at organizing ASMs in Uganda. Mr. Don Biniyina, Executive Director of Africa Centre for Energy and Mineral Policy, which was contracted by government to implement BRASM, noted that the event was a special one for artisanal and small-scale miners as it has come as a result of protracted negotiations with government through the ministry to formalize ASMs that have for long been referred to as illegal. He noted that it also marks an important day for ACEMP as the implementers of the project. Mr. Didas Muhumuza, the Coordinator for Extractives Governance work at Action Aid Uganda, that supported the launch of the event but also mobilized ASMs from different regions to attend, reiterated that just as AAU’s mission is to support marginalized communities to fight social injustices, the organization is committed to continually support the artisanal and small-scale miners in their struggles and work together with government to harness the potential of the ASM sub-sector. He also pointed out that AAU champions the domestication of the African Mining Vision (AMV), which was assented to by Heads of States and Governments under the African Union in 2009. The AMV provides for among other key aspects the formalization of ASMs and protection of their rights and livelihoods. The launch of BRASM by MEMD was supported by ACEMP (as the implementer of the project) in partnership with ActionAid International Uganda(AAIU).

  • NEMA reviews environmental concerns over Tilenga project

    The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is seeking public comments on the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report for the Tilenga oil project.

    The name Tilenga is derived from two local names for the Uganda Kob (Antelope) which is called “Til” in Acholi and “Engabi” in Runyoro-Rotoro.

    A notice which has been pinned on public notice boards in Buliisa district indicates that NEMA received the ESIA from Total E&P Uganda and Tullow Uganda operations Pty Ltd for the proposed Tilenga project.

    Under the Tilenga project, the Government through its licensed oil companies has discovered commercially viable oil deposits north of Victoria Nile in Murchison falls national park and south of Victoria Nile in Buliisa district.

    The project includes jobi-Rii, Gunya, Ngiri, Kasemene, wahrindi, Nsoga, Kigogole oil fields. Composition According to the project documents which oil in Uganda has seen, the Tilenga project is composed of well pads, a central processing facility and other associated facilities, production and injection network of pipelines and cables, Bugungu airstrip, Tangi operation camp, a water abstraction system, victoria Nile crossing, river Nile pipe crossing and some roads.

    The project also includes temporary construction camps, construction support base, a logistical check point in Masindi and borrow pits.

    “The public is further notified that the outcomes of the public review will contribute towards making a final decision of the project in accordance with the Environment impact assessment regulations” a notice released by the NEMA Executive Director Tom Okurut reads in part.

    According to the notice, members of the public have been asked to submit their comments by November 9th 2018. CSO Petition NEMA 13 civil society organisations have asked NEMA to hold public hearings to enable locals have an input in the studies.

    “It is through public hearings that oil host and affected communities, the poor, marginalised and illiterate will be able to make comments on the ESIA to enable NEMA make a decision based on the collective input of all concerned stakeholders” the CSOs said in a joint letter to the NEMA executive Director.

    According to the CSOs which are working to prevent the impacts of oil on biodiversity from Buliisa, Hoima, Kasese, Greater Masaka, South Western Uganda and Kampala, they are concerned that in the notice, NEMA did not indicate that it will call for public hearings before making any decision on the ESIA.

    The concerns of the CSOs are contained in a letter dated October 17, 2018 which was submitted to NEMA by the AFIEGO Chief Executive Director on behalf of the CSOs.

    The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations of 1998 mandates NEMA to call for a public hearing where there is controversy or where a project has trans boundary impacts, the CSOs argued.

    “The Tilenga oil project is controversial and will have trans boundary impacts. The project’s activities will include drawing of water from Lake Albert, whose boundaries remain a challenge between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It should be noted that even the existence of many agreements including the Uganda Zaire 1990 Agreement, the 2007 Uganda-DRC Ngurdoto Agreement and others whose main objective was to address the peace and security challenges in the Uganda-DRC border areas through among other things providing for a framework for benefit sharing and conservation of shared resources such as the Lake Albert waters, fish and others have failed to achieve lasting results” Dickens Kamugisha, the Chief Executive officer of the Africa institute for Energy Governance(AFIEGO) said.

    The CSOs warned that if the Tilenga project is not well handled, it may worsen the conflicts and loss of lives as well as environmental destruction in Uganda and the DRC.

    “We need public hearings to ensure effective public consultations that can build consensus not only among Ugandan stakeholders but also stakeholders across the borders who are likely to be affected by the Tilenga project” said Kamugisha, a lawyer.

    The CSO stated that available evidence indicates that NEMA has the skills and interest to do a good job but it cannot effectively play its role amidst weak and outdated laws.

    It is unfortunate that for over four years, government and parliament have failed or ignored the need to complete the enactment and formulation of the new environmental laws such as the National Environment Bill of 2017, the draft EIA and Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) regulations of 2017, the Uganda Wildlife Bill and others. Without such relevant laws to improve NEMA’s independence, funding and penalties for environmental offenders, NEMA can hardly operate rightfully.

    ‘It is especially unfortunate that todate, as government and oil companies are finalising major oil decisions that will have long lasting environmental and social impacts, there is no specific provision in our current laws including the 1995 National Environment Act, the Uganda Wildlife Act and others that specifically provides for NEMA to reject oil activities even in the most critical biodiversity areas such as Lake Albert, River Nile, Budongo Forest, Murchison Falls National Park, and others of national and international importance,” the petition which was received and stamped by NEMA on 18th October reads in part. Demands

    “NEMA should use its powers not to issue any certificate of approval for oil projects as a condition to force parliament and government to complete the new environmental laws and regulations” the petition stated.

    The CSOs have asked government to establish a multi-stakeholder committee comprised of actors from government, the private sector, religious and cultural groups, CSOs, the academia and others to act as an independent multidisciplinary oversight body to promote compliance with environmental conservation tools such as EIA, SEA, ESIA.

    The CSOs have further asked NEMA to delay any decision to issue a certificate of approval for the Tilenga ESIA until the new environmental laws and regulations are put in place by government and parliament. This will help the country to stop engaging in oil activities based on a weak and outdated environmental legal framework, the petition added.

    By Oil in Uganda correspondent, Bunyoro

  • President’s envoy disappoints Mubende gold miners, fails to turn up for the long awaited reconciliatory meeting

    President’s envoy disappoints Mubende gold miners, fails to turn up for the long awaited  reconciliatory meeting

    Mubende artisanal miners that had come to attend the meeting with the President’s advisor on Land. Photo by Josephine Nabbaale

    Thousands of artisanal miners that had gathered at lujinji mining site in Mubende district to meet the presidential advisor on land matters left the venue disappointed over her failure to show up.

    According to Mr Sempowo Robert chairman Mubende artisanal miners, they secured this appointment with Ms Kiconco flora, the legal presidential advisor of land so that they could be able to show her the area currently occupied by the artisanal miners, how miners operate in this area, equipments being used by miners, how many miners are operating in this area, to win her support towards an end to a possible eviction of the miners by the President.

    Earlier in the same month July, the President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni allegedly issued a presidential directive to have over 500 artisan gold  miners displaced from the mining area of mubende in favour of Gemstones International mining company. This company holds the location license for the area, but had allowed the artisan miners to operate alongside them in this same area, from which they derive a livelihood. This however has since changed. Worried that the miners may encroach on all the gold, they reportedly sought government’s protection to retain back all their land for which they hold a license. Government officials, majority from the Ministry of Energy advised the president accordingly, who in turn ordered for their vacating.

    These miners that gathered up from 7:30am in the morning on Thursday 13th April,  left three hours into waiting disappointed after an official communication that the presidential advisor was not to turn up, because she was caught up with state work therefore postponing the meeting to 20/July/2017.

    Mr Lukwago Peter one of the miners expressed disappointment: “We have been forced to suspend our work because we are law abiding citizens that need to stream line the course of our work. We really need government to listen to our side of the story other than favouring one investor, a move that has left us jobless.”

    Lukwago added that the news about the presidential directive of eviction left them in fear.

    “Few people go into the pits in search for gold. Few people are buying new stuff for their shops. Business is no longer booming because we can’t invest much capital for fear of being chased away from the mines,” he said.

    Mr Senkusu Edward, the community development officer Kitumbi sub county explained that;” we have received a communication from the presidential advisor that she won’t be able to appear for the meeting because she is caught up with other state matters therefore postponing the meeting to 20/July/2017.”

    The presence of potential gold deposits in Kasanda Sub County in Mubende district was first discovered by the British colonial government in the 1920s. Then, in the late 1990s, regular visits by potential investors with big plans alerted locals to the existence of a valuable mineral in their midst, and soon Ugandans from other parts of the country were flocking  the area to start small-scale operations as illegal miners. Many people who were previously unemployed or underemployed from the streets of Kampala and from as far Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Rwanda have continued to come into this area. This has led to an impromptu gold rush with miners, washers, middlemen, buyers and exporters.

    The area houses men, children and women who utterly derive their livelihood from artisan gold mining.  These insist that they applied for a location license two years ago, when they learnt of the expiry of Gemstone’s first license. They however did not receive it, but Gemstone did again.