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Ministry of Energy struggles with low staffing levels

The ministry has lost 70 percent of its well trained and experienced staff to UNOC, PAU and oil related companies due to better salaries.

The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) has suffered a mass exodus of its well trained and experienced staff due to poor pay, Robert Kasande, the Permanent Secretary revealed. Kasande shared that at least 70 percent of the staff have left the ministry to Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU), Uganda National Oil Company Ltd (UNOC) and other oil and oil-related companies in the last few years. The low staffing levels, he explained have crippled the ministry’s performance.

Kasande was recently appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of parliament to answer queries raised by the Auditor General in the 2016/2017 Audit report. Kasande told the Committee that the ministry could not absorb the funds due to limited number of staff. He attributed the exodus of staff to poor pay at the ministry compared to better salaries at PAU, UNOC and other government parastatals and oil companies. “This exodus has left the ministry with only 30 percent staffing level,” Kasande told the Committee. 

Some of the notable staff that have left include; Ernest Rubondo, the executive director, Petroleum Authority of Uganda, Dozith Abeinomugisha, Proscovia Nabbanja, Irene Batebe, Gloria Sebikari and Peninah Aheebwa, Ibrahim Kasita among others. Many more of the ministry staff continue to exit to join the UNOC, PAU and other oil related companies. Many of the companies and parastatals are under the watch of the Energy and Minerals Development Ministry.

He said the ministry returned Shs 2.9 billion meant for staff salaries to the Consolidated Fund due to staff exodus. Nathan Nandala Mafabi, the Chairperson of the PAC, said the 30 percent staffing level is an indication that the performance of the ministry is also at 30 percent.

“You know there are people in civil service who are looking for money and these companies want people who have knowledge in that area and that is the reason many of them decided to run to these entities for better pay,” Mafabi said. He asked the ministry officials to table their ministry’s salary structure, and the list of those who have left to the Committee.

According to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development Briefing Paper released in May 2019, under the theme; Uganda’s Mineral and Mining Sub-sector: What can be done to harness its full potential, low staffing levels was highlighted as one of the key challenges facing the ministry.

“In particular, there are a number of unfilled vacancies in the Directorate of Geological and Mines [DGSM]. About 50 percent of the mineral sub-sector staff structure is filled. Most staff are being shared among the three departments of; Geological Survey, Geothermal Resource, and Mines. This has caused limited effective implementation of activities and in turn delayed execution of works,” the briefing paper reads in part.

“The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development in conjunction with the Ministry of Public Service should fast-track filling of the vacant positions in the mineral sub-sector structure as a matter of urgency,” the briefing paper recommends. With poor salaries in the ministries, staffing exodus to government parastatals with better salaries is inevitable overall.

by: Edward Ssekika,
Edited by Muhumuza Didas