By Thomas Tayebwa
A European Union Parliament Motion for a Resolution (2022/2826(RSP) has been brought to the attention of my office, wherein the EU Parliament advises the Governments of Uganda and Tanzania not to develop their oil and gas projects.
The same motion equally advises EU membership not to render any diplomatic, financial, or other support to our oil and gas projects. The motion seems premised on allegations of potential environmental impacts, human rights abuses and climate change targets.
I believe formal communication of this motion by the European Parliament will be made and a formal response will be made. I will however make the following comments, at this time:
- The Parliament of the Republic of Uganda condemns the motion for a resolution by the European Union Parliament that calls on the Uganda and Tanzania to stop the development of the oil and gas projects in the East African region. The resolution is based on misinformation and deliberate misrepresentation of key facts on environment and human rights protection. It represents the highest level of neo-colonialism and imperialism against the sovereignty of Uganda and Tanzania.
- This motion seeks to curtail the progress of Uganda’s oil and gas developments and by extension, the country’s socioeconomic growth and development. It also seeks to deny Ugandans and East Africans the benefits and opportunities from the oil and gas sector. This represents the highest form of Economic Racism against developing countries, given that:
- Various member states in the European Union continue exploring, developing, and have increased the production and use of fossil fuels in recent months.
- There are over 9000 oil and gas production licenses in USA, including plans to drill in Alaska and the Arctic Sea. 53 licenses have recently been issued in the North Sea and Germany has revived its coal plants. In addition, western countries are seeking to import gas from African countries. All this is in a bid to ensure energy security in their respective states. Is energy security a preserve for only the European Union? Does Uganda not have the same right?
- The propaganda largely targets the 1445 kilometer East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), which will run for 296 kilometers in Uganda. The EACOP represents less than 0.1 per cent of the operational global pipeline network of 1.18 million kilometres.
- It is imprudent to say that Uganda’s oil projects will exacerbate climate change, yet it is a fact that the EU block with only 10 per cent of the world’s population is responsible for 25 per cent of global emissions, and Africa with 20 per cent of the world’s population is responsible for 3 per cent of emissions. The EU and other western countries are historically responsible for climate change. Who then should stop or slow down on development of natural resources? Certainly not Africa or Uganda.
- Over 70 per cent of the persons affected by land acquisition for the projects have been compensated or resettled and are undergoing livelihood improvement projects in agriculture, financial literacy, vocational skills, among others. Efforts to fully compensate all project affected persons are ongoing, with cooperation from the local communities and leaders. Land is not utilised by the projects before the compensation processes are concluded, and any related grievances are addressed through a participatory process.
- Colleagues, we are all aware that our Country has been gifted with sizeable oil and gas resources that are already generating and creating value for our people in terms of employment, provision of services and goods, technical and other skilling. These resources will also generate significant revenues for the State, support petro-chemical industrialization and the development of other sectors of the economy such as agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, health, among others. Also, aware that this House has approved significant investment in Oil Roads and other infrastructure to support the development, it is pertinent that as we have done in the past, we address efforts that aim at frustrating the sovereign right to exploit our resources.
- Like many African countries, Uganda is a developing country, and a sovereign state that has its unique development needs and priorities. I, therefore, call upon the European Union Parliament to withdraw the motion for a resolution that is against the UN Charter that provides for Uganda’s right to self-determination and sovereignty over its natural resources. This House and through responsible Committees will continue providing oversight, to the oil and gas sector. As such, there is no justifiable basis for the EU Parliament or any other institution to recommend that we leave our resources in the ground on these reasons.
The writer, Rt Hon Thomas Tayebwa, is the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda