Writing a chapter in a recently published book on Uganda’s oil sector, Dr Badru Bukenya, an academic at Makerere University and Jaqueline Nakayiza, an independent researcher, observed that “within Uganda’s oil sector, informal institutions and arrangements tend to prevail over rules-based approaches.”
Oil barrel. Photo by Energy Post
Uganda's oil sector is dominated by political interference, with many players forced to have the president’s
say before making any important decisions, researchers have said.
Writing a chapter in a recently
published book on Uganda’s oil sector, Dr Badru Bukenya, an academic at
Makerere University and Jaqueline Nakayiza, an independent researcher, observed
that “within Uganda’s oil sector, informal institutions and arrangements tend
to prevail over rules-based approaches.”
This is so, despite the fact that
Uganda has managed to enact laws and put up institutions to manage the
country’s oil resource. The researchers
have observed that institutions like the Uganda National Oil Company, Petroleum
Authority of Uganda, Ministry of Energy and others play a minimal role with the
final word coming from the president.
This is a view shared by Prof
Pamela Mbabazi, the board Chairperson of National Planning Authority (NPA), who
writes in the same book that “there is evident political interference in the
management of Uganda’s oil and gas sector.”
She adds that the President has
arguably been adamant about maintaining firm control over the oil industry.
Mbabazi quotes the president as
having said that "In the case of petroleum and gas, I direct that no
the agreement should ever be signed without my express written approval of that
arrangement.” She says the fact that Uganda’s oil governance powers are
invested in the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development is “arguably rather
excessive and provide a conducive milieu for possible misuse and abuse.”
The book titled Oil wealth and Development
in Uganda and Beyond is authored by different experts and published by the
Leuven University Press. It looks at how Uganda has positioned itself to manage
its oil finds.
The book notes that International Oil
Companies (IOCs) have learnt that since the President is quite an influential figure in Uganda’s oil sector, personal relations with his office
are important not only in relation to sharing oil revenues but also in securing
oil deals and the stability of the same.
The book shows that this extended
on who gets to meet the president first. Referring to key informants, the
researchers write that while Tullow, Total, and China National Offshore Oil
Company (CNOOC) are joint venture companies and expected to work together, they
negotiate their contracts separately and have different levels of access to the
“It is claimed that the Chinese,
with their CNOOC, have easier access to the President compared to their
counterparts and ‘their things get done very fast… actually at the moment the
Chinese are way ahead of the other companies’,” the book claims.
Uganda hopes to start production
in the next two years and President Museveni has been meeting executives from
different oil companies to strike a deal for the Final Investment Decision
(FID) to reached and unlock investments in the sector.