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  • Dr Isabalijja Steven, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Energy who was until his recent sucking.

    Why Museveni fired Dr Isabalija as Ministry of Energy Permanent Secretary?

    The muddled procurement of the lead developer for the oil refinery could have played a role

    Dr Isabalijja Steven, teh Permanent Secretary Ministry of Energy who was until his recent sucking.

    President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday, in a surprise twist of events, fired the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Dr Stephen Isabalija. Though the President did not give reasons for the surprise sucking, analysts within the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development argue that the messy handling of the procurement process for the oil refinery lead developer could have played a hand in Isabalija’s sacking.

    Mr Isabalija was only 10 months old into the job, after replacing the long serving Fred Kabagambe Kaliisa during a reshuffle of Permanent Secretaries in November last year. Kabagambe Kaliisa is now a Senior Presidential Advisor on Oil and Gas.

    The President appointed Robert Kasande, the acting director, Petroleum Directorate in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, as the acting Permanent Secretary. Mr Kasende, a geologist by profession, was also the project manager for the oil refinery project.

    Isabalija’s sacking that started as a rumor on Wednesday, was later on Thursday confirmed by the Executive Director, Uganda Media Center and government spokesman Ofwono Opondo who twitted, “Dr Stephen Isabalija’s contract has been terminated and he is to be paid one month in lieu of notice,” Opondo said.

    He said the President did not give any reason for the terminating Isabalija’s contract. During his short stint at the Ministry, Isabalija’s oversaw the eviction of over 60,000 artisanal gold miners in Kitumbi Sub county, Mubende district. Government claims that the artisanal gold miners were illegally mining gold and want an “investor” to take over.

    MESSY OIL REFINERY PROCUREMENT

    Dr Isabalija an academic and former Vice Chancellor, Victoria University, could have burnt his fingers in the procurement process of the lead developer for the oil refinery.

    Early this month, Dr Isabalija announced Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium (AGRC), a consortium of American and Italian companies, as the winner for the oil refinery deal. This edged out a Chinese Consortium led by Guangzhou Dong Song Energy Group Limited, that accused the selection panel of corruption.

    Guangzhou Dong Song Energy Group Limited, was granted a mining lease to develop the Tororo Phosphates.

    The Chinese consortium includes; Guangzhou Dong Song Energy Group Limited, Guangdong Silk Road Fund, China Africa Fund for International Corporation, China Petroleum Engineering and Construction Corporation (CPNC) and the East Design Institute.

    After being edged out in the $ 4bn dollars refinery deal, the Chinese penned a letter dated 8, August, 2017, to the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Irene Muloni copied to the Prime Minister in which the consortium expressed shock at the announcement.

    “We are taken aback by press reports indicating that the government of Uganda has reportedly selected a group known as Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium to develop the refinery project. Incidentally, the same press reports indicate that the Dong Song – CPECC consortium had been appraised as the best bidder with 83.38 percent,” reads the letter signed by LV Weidong, on behalf of Dong Song led consortium.

    It added, “The purpose of this letter is to inform you that the Dong Song – CPECC consortium has never disintegrated. It remains strong and committed to invest in the development of Uganda Refinery project provided the concerns raised in the consortium’s earlier letters are addressed. The letter reads.

    The consortium even threatened to challenge the procurement process that led to the selection of any other consortium in courts of law. They also complained that the only reason, they were denied a deal is because, the consortium members are close to President Yoweri Museveni.

    “Dong Song is suffering because it is close to the President. There is no way it can give money to people involved in the selection process,” an official is reported to have said. This year, two officials from the Ministry of Finance tried to solicit for money from Guangzhou Dong Song Energy Group Limited, the president laid them a trap and they were arrested.

    The Chinese also alleged corruption in the way the deal was awarded. “So, we were edged out, because they know we can’t give them money,” an official of the consortium is reported in the local press to have complained.

    One of the Consortium members, CPECC, a subsidiary of CNPC has demonstrated capacity having built refineries in South Sudan, Algeria, Chad and Niger. However, selection committee is reported to have edged out Dong Song consortium because they didn’t provide their intended financiers.

    The Chinese are also known of using powerfully connected individuals some of them members of the first family to broker their deals. Guangzhou Dong Song Energy Group Limited, used the President to get the Tororo Phosphates Deal. It is this politics of balancing interests, that could have landed Isabalija in trouble and could have had played a role in sacking.

  • An entrepreneur in Hoima
participating in business training

    Grabbing the bull by the horns: GIZ skilling initiative targets 8,000 Ugandans

    Employment for Sustainable Development in Africa (E4D) is a GIZ programme that seeks to boost local employment and raise incomes in eight African countries. Read More

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    Hoima farmers rue shrunk market for their produce

    Demand for fresh produce from the oil camps dropped to a paltry 2,490 kilograms in 2015, from 73,286 kilograms the previous year. Read More

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    National Oil Company gets CEO

    The Board of Uganda’s National Oil Company (UNOC) has appointed Dr. Josephine Wapakabulo as the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Read More

  • White Nile Waste Plant

    Oil waste managers face lean days, criticism over standards

    Slow progress towards production of Uganda’s oil has given a nascent waste management industry the chance to catch up—but the lack of a steady supply of new wastes is making for uncertain and uneven development. Read More

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    Invest oil money in infrastructure, health-Survey

    A 2012 photo showing repairs to the railway network operated by RVR in Kenya and Tanzania. Whereas such infrastructure upgrades are vital for the oil and gas sector, some Ugandans would like the government to invest oil proceeds in upgrading rural road networks.

    A survey commissioned by Oil in Uganda in Western and Central Uganda has revealed that a bigger percentage of Ugandans there would like the government to invest oil proceeds in improving road and transport infrastructure.  Read More

  • A miner displaye iron ore 2

    Value addition: Presidential directive rattles miners

    A miner displays a piece of unprocessed iron ore in Kabale District. (Photo: B. Sidsel)

    A 2011 directive from President Yoweri Museveni forbidding Ugandan miners from exporting unprocessed minerals remains largely unenforced to date, with some of the miners describing it as impractical. Read More

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    Skilling Uganda: The bigger picture

    New sectors and businesses are rapidly emerging and people in the Albertine region must be supported to develop the necessary skills to capitalise on these new opportunities.  Read More

  • H.E. Dónal

    “Ugandan farmers can reap big from oil”

    Dónal Cronin is the Ambassador of Ireland to Uganda and Rwanda who has had a long career in development and governance work. In this two-part interview, he spoke to Oil in Uganda about Irish efforts to improve the state of governance in Uganda, as well as the opportunities that are right under the noses of Ugandan farmers, as the country’s oil and gas industry prepares for take-off in the not-so-distant future. Read More

  • Fred Musinguzi with Tullow Officials at the construction site of the Kyehoro health centre. (Photo: F.Mugerwa)

    Local content: Hoima businessman defies the odds

    As locals in the oil-rich Albertine region lament about failing to access business opportunities in the oil and gas industry, one of them seems to have penetrated the notorious local content ‘wall of steel.’  Read More