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Nankabirwa Hails Nyamutoro’s Role In Amendment Of Petroleum Supply Law

Lokeris (L) hands over to Nyamutoro

Phiona Nyamutoro’s appointment as the new State Minister for Minerals, was one of the few that raised eyebrows in the recent cabinet reshuffle.

Ruth Nankabirwa, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD), however was not surprised by her selection, having witnessed firsthand the mobilization skills of the current National Youth Representative during debates around the Petroleum Supply (Amendment), Bill 2023 in the 11th Parliament, in November last year.

“I want to really thank you (Nyamutoro) because you were very critical in these discussions. Nyamutoro called and asked me to send an expert from the ministry to sensitize a team of MPs that she had mobilized so that they could support the amendment on the floor of Parliament, from an informed point of view,” Nankabirwa said, at a ceremony to welcome the new state minister and see off her predecessor, Peter Lokeris, this week.

Adding, “I assigned John Friday (assistant commissioner, Petroleum) and following an entire morning of his sensitization, the MPs were very supportive of the Bill thereafter. I want to thank the President for sending you here (to the ministry) to continue doing such great work.”

The Petroleum Supply (Amendment) Act, 2023, which was assented to by President Yoweri Museveni in the same month, gives the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) exclusivity to import and supply all petroleum products destined to the local market.

The Act also aims to eliminate the middleman in the oil supply chain who is always blamed for the rise in oil pump prices.

With the MEMD, overseeing the oil and gas, mining and electricity sectors, Nankabirwa also advised the new state minister to be ready to learn a lot as soon as possible since she will be required to speak on behalf of the ministry in different forums regularly.

(L-R) Irene Bateebe, the Permanent Secretary, Lokeris, Nankabirwa and Nyamutoro

In her remarks, Nyamutoro noted how she has always kept abreast of happenings at the MEMD.

Hailing Nankabirwa as an inspiration, she noted that not compromising on her principles was one trait she was proud to share with her senior minister.

“I am looking forward to a future where Ugandans will be proud of the work that we deliver. This means finding the best way to utilize our natural resources so that we avoid the resource curse. As political heads we are here to ensure that we help the president achieve that mandate,” said Nyamutoro.

Lokeris, who is now the new Minister for Karamoja Affairs, said he would maintain contact with the MEMD since Karamoja is a mineral-rich region.

Having originally joined the MEMD in 2009, before returning after short stints at other ministries, Lokeris says he has over the years picked up useful knowledge about minerals, petroleum and electricity from the ministry staff, despite not being grounded in any of the subjects beforehand.

He advised his successor to be keen to gain similar technical knowledge so as to excel at her job.

Museveni (C) chats with Nyamutoro and musician Eddy Kenzo, following the swearing in ceremony at State House


A new law – the Mining and Minerals Act 2022 – has observers anticipating boundless growth in the mining sector in the near future. Only contributing 1.6% to the GDP in 2022, the sector has the potential to bring in much more seeing that over 20 categories of minerals in Uganda have commercial prospects.

These include gold, copper, cobalt, graphite, nickel, marble, limestone, tin, tantalite, tungsten, zinc and rare earth elements (REEs), among others.

Two large scale mining licenses have already been granted in the last four months – one to Rwenzori Rare Metals (RRM) and its partner IonicRE that discovered large deposits of REEs in Makuutu, Busoga and another to Sunbird Resources Limited that plans to set up the first clinker plant in Uganda in Karamoja.

Wagagai, which plans to mine gold in Busitema, eastern Uganda is another company that has shown promise. Revival of copper mining at Kilembe is also imminent, with the evaluation of the bids of the companies seeking the mine’s concession almost complete.

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