Matters are coming to a head in Uganda’s oil and gas sector with more motion than in the past year. The Ugandan authorities launched their FEED for oil producing region and shuttle negotiations have been taking place between Tanzanian and Ugandan negotiators on the Hoima-Tanga pipeline.
The pipeline negotiations, according to those involved, are being conducted within the new reality of the East African Treaty and like other Northern Corridor projects may have a head-on effect on how EAC governments and investors alike approach projects.
These include the entire kitty of getting projects off the ground from partners to financing and taxation.
Meanwhile the Ugandan authorities will shortly announce a partner in their refinery project. Five firms made a shortlist of what is considered a lucklustre showing of credible companies. The financial problems of the government have meant an over-leveraged environment for getting good companies in the game. “ We shall choose a firm because we have to start” said one top decision maker.
The refinery is likely to be, at least initially, a loss-making and heavily subsidized affair- whose real value is the strategic importance of having a project of its type in the EAC hinterland and spinning off by-products into Uganda’s ambitions to jump its industrial sector.
Total Uganda looks set to bring together its significant stake in the Ugandan side of the Albertine – with the assets across the border in Congo. There are talks on-going between the company, Congolese officials and the company, which has these assets. Uganda signed a joint exploration and production agreement with then Zaire ( now DRC) for the region and as projects take shape, the bilateral relations will become a renewed focus for investors and diplomats.
Local Ugandan companies are keen on the above developments. A strong legal focus on local content is however yet to be tested by the type of joint ventures that bridge the knowledge and standards gap between local companies and foreign partners.
In the Ugandan parliament an inquiry into how civil servants were rewarded with taxpayer dollars for their role in defending Uganda’s arm-wrestling with the Anglo-Irish company Tullow over tax has captured the imagination of the reading and viewing public.
Multi-year public sector corruption and its constant scandals have left a suspicious and sceptical public and even if the overall performance of Uganda’s oil sector has been positive (technically) compared to other African countries, the ogre of cannibalistic and runaway corruption that is rife in all sectors is giving less confidence in the hope that the sector can maintain its exceptional promise.
Some of you are paying attention to Vuqatv.com our local content television publisher we set up as a practical first step in the belief that film will eventually be an important “language” for communicating Uganda to the world and the other way round.
Vuqa is focussing on becoming a home for Ugandan talent in the performing arts, film, documentary production and music ( its parent is Raising the Bar, a production company that also runs Master’s Music).
The team at Vuqa is now a content partner for the 2017 Club Music Video Awards. This is an exciting venture for us because quality in videography has mostly incubated in music videos which are watched more ( in local content time) than any other productions ( including Ugandan sit-coms and talk shows) by the mostly younger television demographic.
On the journalism side – Vuqa is currently conducting longer investigations into the quality of medical care and Uganda’s mostly ignored battle with the changing climate. Together with KDF ( Karamoja Development Forum), Vuqa recently put out this public service announcement of the effect of the bad climate on food security in parts of the country.