Irene Pauline Batebe Okello is the new permanent secretary at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) replacing Robert Kasande, who had served in that position for close to four years. Her appointment was announced in a statement released by President Yoweri Museveni’s office on July 15, 2021, which also indicated the transfer and dropping of several other permanent secretaries. Kasande was shifted to the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
Batebe, 39, will have her plate full since she comes in as Uganda’s oil and gas industry readies for takeoff, with the achievement of the final investment decision (FID) expected sooner rather than later. In effect, the development phase is well underway following the awarding of the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning (EPCC) contract for the Tilenga Project by TotalEnergies E&P in June 2021 and the signing of key agreements this year between Uganda and Tanzania in relation to the crude oil export pipeline (EACOP).
Batebe herself has been at the forefront of the commercialization efforts for the petroleum resources in Uganda, so her knowledge of the industry guarantees continuity from Kasande.
Her focus was mainly in planning for the development of the oil refinery where she advised on the technical aspects including design and configuration.
She has been serving as a member of the board of the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) and as acting commissioner at the Directorate of Petroleum. She holds a MSc. in Refinery Design and Operation from the University of Manchester, UK, a MSc. in Sustainable Energy Engineering from the Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden and a BSc. in Chemical and Process Engineering from the University of Dar-es- Salaam, Tanzania.