August 21st, 2010
08:11 PM GMT
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We knew the amount of oil sitting in Uganda’s Lake Albert basin. With proven reserves of two billion barrels, the country should soon become Africa’s fifth largest oil producer.

But what we really wanted to know when we set out to take a look at its upcoming oil windfall is whether the East African nation would be able to avoid the dreaded “oil curse.”

There are plenty of signs that it may be able to.

Its economy has doubled in ten years and in the process it’s become the darling of western investors. But President Yoweri Museveni is also one of the continent’s longest-serving leaders.

Stable yes, but his government has never been known for its transparency.

And now, as Tullow prepares to pull the first drops from the ground, there’s still very little known about the agreement between  the Anglo-Irish oil company - quickly becoming a dominant player in Africa’s oil game - and the Ugandan government.

We asked Director of Tullow’s Uganda Operations, Brian Glover to give us details. He’d love to, was the gist of Glover’s response as he emphasized the importance of transparency. But the decision to release details of the agreement is ultimately in the government’s hands he told us.

If there’s any industry that’s adept at handling bad PR it’s the oil industry. Look no further than the recent disaster involving BP in the U.S.

And while Tullow said all the right things, the government isn’t saying much at all, which leaves the average Ugandan guessing on what billions of dollars in their own backyard will actually mean to them.

Trust in the officials, was the response of Uganda’s Permanent Secretary of Energy and Mineral Development.

“The people of Uganda have a government which clearly represents their interests,” Kabagambe Kalisa said.

But on a continent where the sweet black stuff has been anything but, trust is something many here are finding it difficult to do.

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Filed under: BusinessMarketplace Africa

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Ronald Muwonge

    Oil is more of a curse than a benefit.
    Some points to note
    The country will increasingly depend on the export of the oil or natural gas, the revenues will go in large measures to the government.

    With large oil revenues, agriculture will become unprofitable, since much of the labor force will look to the government,for most of the essentials like Health, food ,education etc

    As a Ugandan we should copy Norway Norway, which has large oil fields, was a democracy before oil was discovered and has banked the oil income for a future when the fields become dry. The government has effectively sterilized the revenues, preventing the destruction of local industry and the tendency to bribe the public through government programs.
    I pray that the government doesn't play with the Taxation system to make us happy as it will just destroy us, it is taxation, that leads to representative government

    As is the case with Norway, Britain, Australia, Canada and the United States, avoidance of conflict depends on the quality of national institutions.

    "Oils is good but very very bad". Lets hope one day we won't have CNN offices in Uganda because of "OIL"


    August 29, 2010 at 5:31 am |
  2. Antthony

    For now the government is trying to maintain control over the oil sector in the country, question is, for how long shall it ?

    we have already seen problems arise from the oil testing generated through tullow not paying taxes and as expected the public is not getting any proper information on the contract apart from the bits we get from the media about tullow selling its shares and bagging lots and lots of monies.

    From were i stand, i think we are already heading the disastrous way because of unplanned and non conclusive deals. this is because we as a country need income very badly for various developments but at same time were not ready for oil mining leading to upcoming recent problems. however, the good news is that its not yet that bad that we can"t pull out of it and am optimistic that we can do better as long as we take it one step at a time and articulately know how. we should not be pushed and driven by the get rich quickly philosophy


    September 13, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
  3. icons archive

    I am sorry, that has interfered... This situation is familiar To me. I invite to discussion.


    September 23, 2012 at 10:03 pm |

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