How This Graduate Program Is Preparing Students For Employment

In an era where jobs for fresh graduates are hard to come by, extra preparation and skills must be accorded to students completing university studies.

These skills should enable students to meet the standards required of them and to exceptionally perform if hired. For this to happen, universities are devising means to supplement what they teach in lecture rooms with tailor-made workforce training.

Well aware of the obstacles that fresh graduates face in the wake of looking for and sustaining jobs, Victoria University conducted a two-day workshop to prepare their 2019 graduate class.

The workshop training themed ‘towards a complete graduate training - after university, what next? Was aimed at teaching the University’s student who will be graduating in September the basics of formal employment and doing business.

The training which took place on Monday 15th and 16th Tuesday, July 2019, addressed issues to do with the social life of the students, the business world, religion, personal and community security and work-life balance.

Topics discussed at the workshop included career planning, job searching and retention, writing CV and undertaking job interviews, public speaking, business startup and registration, business etiquette, financial literacy, investment portfolio and social media for business.

Others were religious like spirituality, vision and discipline, body language, relationship and marriage. Also work etiquette, leadership skill, emotional intelligence, stress management, health and fitness were discussed.

Peggy Mariah Nabunya, one of the students who attended the workshop said it helped her to put a lot into perspective about how long she intended to be in employment and the various things she needed to do to maintain a job.

“It also showed me that I need to answer questions like 'how am adding value to the organization I'm working in?' and 'how is the organization adding value to me'. I also learnt so many basic skills that most times we take for granted that can make or break you.” Nabubya said of the workshop.

Another student, Marlie Keishamaza, a student of Bachelors in Journalism, described the workshop as insightful. “I learnt a lot of things that I wouldn’t otherwise have known in my own,” Keishamaza noted.

“They taught us about balancing work and personal life, being a good leader, spirituality, how to handle yourself in the work environment and what to expect from it. So much. The kind of things that most people only learn by experience,” she added.

Alice Akurut says the training taught her to be a change-maker in a way that adds value to society. She said learning about financial literacy has helped her private business and ‘improved my entrepreneurial and budgeting skills.’

Victoria University is using initiatives such as this training to ensure that their students have a competitive advantage in the job market. The University deploys as such initiative to build capacities of their students.

The workshop was facilitated by human resource experts from NFT Consult and Premier Recruitment. Other facilitators included the Dean Faculty of Humanities, the Academic Registry and other Victoria University personnel.

Benin Making The Most Out Of LNG To Power Projects

By Mickael Vogel

With a population of less than 12 million and a GDP of $10.35bn in 2018, Benin is often overshadowed by its massive neighbour, Nigeria.

Yet as African countries try to revitalize their energy sector, bring in private capital and develop gas-to-power, it is in West Africa and Benin that observers should look for positive developments.

With recent legislative reforms and a strong political will, the small West African nation is strengthening its place as the capital of the West African Power Pool (WAPP) and positioning itself as a big hub for gas and power in the sub-region.

On July 24, French super-major Total signed a Gas Supply Agreement and Host Government Agreement with Benin and its state utility, the Société Béninoise d'Energie Electrique (SBEE). The agreement will see the development of a 0.5 mtpa Floating, Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU), the first in West Africa. LNG supplies sourced from Total's global portfolio are set to start in 2021 and last for 15 years.

This is no small move for a region that has repeatedly tried to develop its gas-to-power infrastructure but has remained faced with financing, infrastructure and regulatory challenges. Between Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal, up to 7,750MW of gas-to-power facilities could be installed by 2030 according to Power Africa.

In practice however, erratic supplies from the West Africa Gas Pipeline, lack of gas and transmission & distribution infrastructure, unattractive pricing structures and outdated master plans mean that such potential might remain under-exploited.

In this context, the recent signing of agreements with Total brings hope to a region hungry for power. It is first the result of a strong political will.

Under the leadership of President Patrice Talon, Benin has been implementing a strong Government Action Plan (PAG) since 2016 which places the revitalisation of the country's energy sector and private sector capital as a pillar of economic development.

The formula is working: Benin grew by almost 7% last year and is expected to grow by 6.5% this year (IMF), placing it in the top 15 of the world's fastest-growing economies. And political vision has led better ease of doing business.

Benin has been revising its Electricity Code, and its Council of Ministers approved last month the new framework of intervention for the Independent Power Producers (IPPs), improving investment and operating conditions for private investors in the country's power industry.

As a result, the agreement with Total will not only see the development of West Africa's first FSRU, it is also reviving hopes of seeing clean LNG powering future homes and industries across the region. The new gas import project will indeed supply power plants in Benin, such as the new 127 MW power station at Maria Gléta, with regasification infrastructure developed and operated by Total.

Senegal’s Energised Renaissance

By Sebastian Wagner

After decades of struggles against a deficient power generation system, Senegal is now at the verge of a paradigmatic shift that could put many of its troubles to rest. With the government's bet in recent years in new power generation facilities, power outages have greatly diminished, system reliability has improved and with it the opportunities for economic growth.

To be sure, many still live without access to electricity. On average, 4 in every 10 people are not connected to the national grid. The situation is worst outside the main urban centres, where 60% of the population remains unconnected, but the chance to improve this situation has never been closer.

At a production capacity of a little less than 1 gigawatt for a growing population of 15 million strong, investment in further generation capacity is paramount if Senegal is ever to develop its internal market and give its citizens a shot at a better standard of living. However, sustainability must guide decision-making as much as strategic need.

The imported heavy-fuels and coal used to generate most of the country’s power comes at a heavy cost for the state’s coffers. In 2016, refined and crude oil imports cost the Senegalese state over USD$1.5 billion.

Sustainable Power

The alternatives are obvious. Senegal is blessed with many hours of high solar exposure and wind flows. The opportunities are also there to be seized. French power company ENGIE and investment company Meridiam won a tender in April for a 60MW solar park.

This will build on the country’s previously established renewable generation projects, which now amount to 80MW. As the price of solar and wind technologies decreases, these technologies have become more and more appealing in recent years which also has a positive impact on the cost per MW for the consumer.

Engie’s park will cost around 40% less than the previous endeavours in solar in Senegal. Another 158MW of wind power are planned for development by the Lekela Power company in Taiba N'Diaye.

These developments build on a combination of factors. Senegal’s reputation for stability and positive business environment have made the West African nation particularly luring for foreign investors in recent years.

Investment has come not just from the country’s traditional partners in the West, particularly France, but from the East, with Turkey, China, the UAE, South Korea and India making sizeable investments in the country.

To the growing interest of private investors adds the support from international institutions like the United States-led Power Africa programme, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), or the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a part of the World Bank Group. These organizations have helped finance many power generation-related projects throughout the continent.

In partnership with the Senegalese government, particularly through the Scaling-Solar scheme supported by the IFC, these projects, including the new 60MW solar park project won by ENGIE and its Meridiam, are progressively seeing the light of day and bringing relief to the country’s struggling power grid.

Since 2016, when the first solar power project was launched in Senegal, the country has seen a extremely fast development in renewable energy projects. If all goes according to plan, almost half a gigawatt of installed capacity will be available in 2020. That would be one of the fastest increases in renewable to fossil fuel generation ratio in the world.

Further, these projects bring not only power stability but answer concerns of climate change mitigation. Under the Paris agreements, Senegal committed to reduce its CO2 emissions by 21% by 2020, a goal that only through a sustainable energy policy can be achieved.

These combination of variables give Senegal its best opportunity yet to push for the modernization of its power generation industry, which in turn should potentiate the development of industries, creation of wealth, jobs and economic growth.

At the same time, moving away from expensive heavy oil-based power generation needs to be a priority.

The gas bliss

Kosmos Energy’s discoveries of large quantities of natural gas reserves in the offshore regions of Senegal has come as a game-changer for the country. Over the last couple of years, successive finds have risen the estimated in-place reserves of the country to up to 50 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, propelling it to the top 5 of Africa’s biggest natural gas holders.

Exploration license holders Kosmos and BP have already suggested a fast-track development using a floating LNG facility that could see first gas being commercialized as early as 2021 from Greater Tortue/Ahmeyin fields.

Additional discoveries in 2017 have made the companies consider two rather than one train of LNG processing capacity. This means that very soon Senegal can have access to an inexpensive source of energy it can use to power its homes and industries, not to mention a new and strong stream of income.

The political will also seem to be present for that to take place. February’s announcement of the agreement reached between Senegal and Mauritania for the exploitation of their shared natural gas reserves in the Greater Tortue Complex, which holds up to 25TCF of natural gas, is a symbol of the times. Quick decision-making among political leaders focused on economic development.

If the cards are played well, we could be witnessing a shifting moment for the country’s economic structure. President Macky Sall, himself an educated oilman, is well aware of what to expect once the natural gas starts to flow.

Already, plans are being made to convert heavy-fuel turbines to operate with natural gas. Just in April, the technology group Wärtsilä won a tender for the deployment of a 130-MW Flexicycle plant that can operate in a combination of different fuels so it can immediately be shifted to natural gas once the resource is made available. The country’s older power plants will soon follow.

By using natural gas as a power source, the national grid will be able to offset the intermittency of renewable power supply while saving millions in fuel costs and reduce CO2 emissions.

Lessons learned

That is not to say that Senegal is not also at risk of making the same mistakes as many of its neighbours. When oil was first discovered by Cairn Energy in Senegal in 2015, there were more than a few voices that expressed concern for what an oil boom could do to Senegal’s fragile economy.

Nigeria’s and other’s battles with the oil curse is nothing to be envious of. Many of these concerns are well-founded. A major income stream suddenly being concentrated in a specific sector of the economy can reduce competitiveness in other sectors and produce inflationary pressures.

Further, expectations need to be managed carefully. The oil and gas sector is not a major employer. Most people will not find a job in it. Particularly with floating LNG solutions, there will be little place for integrating the local workforce, especially with a relatively low technical skillset.

However, if Senegal can learn from the mistakes of others, its natural resources can truly help the country develop economically.

There are quite a few examples to look at. Ghana has quickly established one of the most comprehensive legal frameworks for oil and gas income management the continent, even the world, has ever seen. Equatorial Guinea has managed to use its resources to invest in infrastructural develop and boost associated industries to create a thriving logistics hub in the Gulf of Guinea. European cooperation partners can also provide assistance in developing the necessary institutions to manage this income. Already, Senegalese lawmakers have partnered with the Netherlands and visited the country’s operations in the North Sea to learn from their experience.

To be sure, there will be challenges to governance and some issues will need to be addressed within the specificities of the Senegalese reality. However, if the government can stick to its plan of partnering with international allies to invest in a power generation sector it can create the foundation ground for the growth of a strong economy.

Balancing natural gas and renewables for power generation, maintaining a strict vigilance over the management of oil and gas income, establishing independent regulatory bodies and heritage funds to manage the revenue, can be the building blocks of a new era of economic growth in Senegal.

Electric Vehicles Already Able To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions By Half

Critics have played down ability of current electric cars to reduce CO2 levels, but new analysis shows significant impact replacing a fossil-fuel-powered car with an electric model can halve greenhouse gas emissions over the course of the vehicle’s lifetime, this is to justify that investing in oil exploration will not be a good investment in the long run for Uganda, however, the finding challenges reports by the UK press, other transport research groups and the fossil fuel industry that have underestimated the rise of electric vehicles (EVs) and their capacity for cutting emissions.

 Released ahead of the world’s first zero-emission vehicle summit in Birmingham, experts hope these results will drive a rapid switch to electric vehicles. It is well established that a transition to electric vehicles will immediately reduce toxic air pollution, but the impact on carbon emissions has been less clear.

Critics have pointed to the carbon-intensive process of battery manufacture and the relatively small share of Britain’s electricity supply coming from renewables as factors that stop EVs reaching their full CO2-cutting potential.  “The take-up of EVs in the UK, as elsewhere, continues to grow fast and sales have just passed 4 million globally,” said Andy Eastlake, managing director of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership.

“While no one doubts the air quality benefits of zero tailpipe emissions, critics often question the overall life cycle greenhouse gas impacts. “However, the new European Climate Foundation-commissioned report used 2017 data to demonstrate that owners of EVs – particularly smaller models – are already playing a big role in helping the climate.

Transport is now the sector that contributes most to the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, and the Committee on Climate Change has urged the government to improve on their current plan to ensure all new diesel and petrol vehicles are banned from 2040.In their role as the government’s climate advisers, the committee has called for “more stretching targets” to ensure most new cars and vans are electric by 2030.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling revealed his “Road to Zero” strategy in July to make the UK “the best country in the world in which to develop and manufacture zero-emission vehicles”.Aurelien Schuller from French consulting firm Carbone 4, one of the report’s co-authors, said their new study revealed “there is no time to waste in the UK’s transition to EVs”.

“Thanks to an already-significant decarbonisation of its electricity generation through coal phase-out the UK is already in a position to make significant cuts in the greenhouse gases from its transport sector,” he said.

The research concluded that a smaller EV produces around 15 tonnes of CO2 from construction through to scrapping, compared to an average of 32 tonnes for the equivalent petrol or diesel car. Gains were smaller for larger sedan cars, which currently offer a quarter less CO2 emissions compared to their fossil fuel counterparts. Looking ahead to 2030 the reductions become even sharper, with a large electric car expected to produce half as much emissions as current models.

 These conclusions are more positive than previous reports, such as a far more conservative study released by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last year. They also chime with a massive underestimation of the potential of EVs by the fossil fuel industry – as represented by oil company figures predicting the size of the future fleet.

“It’s clear that the large oil organisations have consistently underestimated the numbers and uptake of electric vehicles,” said Matt Finch “The question is, have these pessimistic forecasts been adopted as fact elsewhere and have they, therefore, slowed down the low carbon transition? 

As electric vehicles are set to play such an important role in tackling climate change, these forecasts should really be reviewed more carefully

 In Uganda, we ought to invest wisely since they have electricity almost in every urban town, its also an investment opportunity to set up charging point for electric cars since they are slowly taking over the world of investment and climate change.

Written by

Edwin Mumbere – Kasese District.

Think Again About Scrapping PLE, Victoria University Academic Registrar Tells World Bank

By M. G. Katusabe – Ssemwezi

The New Vision paper of Friday 31st May 2019 quoted the World Bank’s (WB) 13th Edition of the Uganda Economic update report, recommending to the Uganda Government to scrap the Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) and implement the policy on automatic promotion.

The WB’s advisor on global education was reported to have acknowledged that the recommendation was controversial and would not come easy. He said the recommendation would save millions of money and improve the quality of education.

The recommendation springs from the Bank’s finding that the rate of transition from primary to secondary has continued to drop. Repetition in lower primary has led to a bulge in the early classes.

The report argues that this leads to inefficiency and affects the quality of education. Therefore, the WB prescription is that PLE be scrapped and pupils should transit to another level – regardless of attained standard.

It is a shame that we cannot offer acceptable attainment standards to our children particularly those in rural Uganda. When I went to primary school in the 1960s, I started by writing on banana leaves with a pencil and even a sharpened stick could do the same job.

That is right; a stick. I then “transited” to writing on a slate. Another transition declared me worthy of writing in a half exercise book with a pencil until I graduated to using a whole exercise book and a fountain pen. The rest is history.

Why was this possible at Bunena Primary School, located in Kitagwenda County of Kamwenge District; a typical rural setting but is not the case today? Simple response – we had great professional dedicated teachers who cared for our education and who enjoyed their work. Their productivity was high.

A miserable teacher in poor working conditions cannot deliver quality education. Period. The sorry state of many of our schools is common knowledge. Just travel a few kilometres into a rural setting and verify this.

Back then, we worked hard to achieve; read, write, get the arithmetic correct and speak English. What is the scenario today? We have illiterate children if they are not among the privileged class going to good private or international schools. But WB recommends they should transit in that state! How will scrapping PLE and automatic transition help the child make progress?

WB recommends continuous assessment to replace PLE. This is a good thing to do but if those meant to implement it are not motivated it will come to naught.

The repeaters are blamed for attracting big bills and rendering teachers exhausted through over working but WB does not say why in the first place this condition exists. Uganda subscribes to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children (UNCRC) yet appears to be in cohort with the WB to violate the rights of children to education. If the children were able they would challenge the system and drug the perpetrators to the International Criminal Court for trial.

A child will be happy to learn from a conducive environment. These poor schools lead to apathy and disaffection of school leading to high dropout and decreasing rates of transition. Children have a right to meaningful education and not a right of simply walking through the system in a bid to improve transition rates.

Today we are in the e-world. How many of the repeaters have ever touched a computer button in our schools let alone the teachers. If the beneficiaries of our system cannot even, make good use of the traditional pen and paper what are their chances of surviving in the e- world? Provide adequate and appropriate teaching materials. If the WB cannot look into the question of funding the factors which lead to low transition, then the WB is taking this country for a ride in the wilderness.

The children are thirsty for real education. Therefore, WB if your intention is to help the child, think again: what leads to low transition?

The Author is the Academic Registrar of Victoria University

Mobile: 075 9 996107/070 2 511 615

The Air In Kampala Is Killing Us

By Diana Nabiruma

In the wee hours of June 19, 2019, I we left Kampala for Kikuube district. I travelled with work colleagues.
We travelled to Kikuube and thereafter Hoima district to participate in the public hearings on the Kingfisher oil project’s Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) study report.

The public hearings were organised by the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) in partnership with NEMA.
The hearings, which were held in Kikuube and Hoima districts respectively, were aimed at enabling NEMA ascertain that the information contained in the ESIA was accurate in addition to enabling the public submit their views.

The public’s views would assist NEMA in making a decision as to whether to issue an environmental certificate for the Kingfisher project, which is located on the shores of Lake Albert, or not.

I made some observations while in Kikuube and Hoima. These observations left me worried for the communities in the Bunyoro oil region in particular and Ugandan citizens at large.

I had a bit of a cold when we left. During our stay in the districts, the cold disappeared.
When I returned to Kampala however, the cold returned with a vengeance.

We first had to drop my work colleagues to Buwaate, which is near Kiira. When we were in Kungu, I got a painful wound in my nose.
The cold, which must have been soothed by the fresher air in Kikuube and Hoima district, had returned!
By the time we reached Ntinda on the way to my home, my chest had tightened and I was in pain. A mixture of the cold and pollution from car fumes had sparked off an allergic episode.

AIR POLLUTION AND ALLERGIC DISORDERS

How are the public hearings, my allergies and oil related? Because there is a link between oil production, oil consumption and respiratory illnesses.

The incidence of allergies and asthma in developing countries including Uganda is on the rise.

A 2018 study, Asthma and Allergic Disorders in Uganda: A Population-Based Study Across Urban and Rural Settings, showed that there was a “a high prevalence of allergic disorders in Uganda”. The researchers concluded that the disorders were expected to increase.

WHY?

Well, per the above-mentioned study which was conducted by John Hopkins University in collaboration with Makerere Lung Institute, and ACCESS Uganda, urbanisation was identified as the “primary driver of asthma and the strongest risk factor for any allergic illness [including allergic rhinitis and eczma]”.

The study examined 1,308 adults over the age of 35 and it found that while 9.8% of the sampled urban population had asthma, only 4.3% of the rural population did.

The study also found that the prevalence of allergic rhinitis and eczma was higher in urban population than in rural ones.

While 16.4% and 9.9% of the sampled urban population suffered from allergic rhinitis and eczma respectively, 7.8% of the sampled rural population suffered from both the above diseases. 

A 2019 study, Prevalence and factors associated with asthma among adolescents and adults in Uganda: a general population based survey, agreed with the above findings.

A total of 3,416 participants over the age of 12 were surveyed and the study found that urbanisation among other factors was associated with asthma.

URBANISATION

Why is urbanisation associated with allergic disorders such as asthma, allergic rhinitis and eczma? Pollution from car fumes among other sources has been blamed. Car fumes contain carbonmonoxide, carbondioxide, nitrogendioxide, sulphurdioxide, ozone, benzene and other compounds.

The above compounds have been linked to allergic disorders. For instance, ozone, nitrogendioxide, sulphurdioxide and soot exposure have been linked to worsening asthma symptoms.

The above compounds irritate the lining of the nose, throat and lungs, inflame the lining of the airways, reduce lung capacity and cause discomfort in breathing among others.

On the other hand, carbonmonoxide is a known poison that can kill with long-term exposure. It is linked to lightheadedness, confusion, dizziness, headache, weakness, confusion, disorientation and other symptoms which are seen in patients such as myself that suffer from allergic rhinitis.

Car fumes are generated from the burning of diesel and petrol. Burning of other fossil fuels results in the release of the above compounds as well.

OIL, ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC HEALTH CONCERNS

In the ESIA report and during the Kingfisher ESIA public hearings, CNOOC (U) Ltd revealed that roads are going to be upgraded, the populations of Hoima Kikkube will increase, air pollution from car fumes and emergency flaring (burning of fossil fuels) are anticipated.

Urbanisation, increased motorisation and combustion of fossil fuels are among the risk factors for increased allergic disorders. The above factors are going to be at play in the Bunyoro oil region where the Kingfisher and Tilenga oil projects are located.

It is noteworthy that in oil producing countries such as the U.S. and Ecuador, adult onset asthma and other respiratory diseases have been reported. Potentially dangerous pollutants have also been found near oil and gas installations.

The population and especially communities near oil production facilities in Uganda are at risk of inhaling pollutants from oil and gas production activities. This increases their risk to respiratory diseases and allergic disorders.

The communities are largely poor and would have to rely on Uganda’s public health system to be treated.
Imagine Uganda’s limping health system being further burdened! I don’t want to sound morbid but truth be told, lives would be lost!

What can be done? Countries such as the UK, U.S., the Netherlands and others are increasingly promoting a clean energy system that promotes environmental conservation, health, gender equity and others.

Kiira Motors was invested in producing electric vehicles which are cleaner but they moved on to producing petrol cars. It would be best if the company invested its money and efforts in producing electric cars.

Further, government should promote investment in clean energy over oil. Yes, it’s said that oil will generate government revenue among other reported benefits.

However, government should look to promote the health and wellbeing of its people. We should promote life and sustainable economic activities such as tourism over oil monies.

Government should also promote environmental conservation through progressively investing in clean energy. Uganda was after all chosen to lead the global campaign on biodiversity conservation ahead of the Global Convention on Diversity that will take place in 2020. We can’t be the ones destroying the environment through oil exploitation.

The writer is the Senior Communications Officer of Africa Institute for Energy Governance.

 

Ten Reasons Why Murchison Falls Should Not Be Tampered With

In an eight paged letter addressed to Eng. Ziria Tibalwa Waako, Chief Executive Officer, Eletricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), Dickens Kamugisha, Chief Executive Office Africa Institute of Energy Governance, gives 10 reasons why no one should destroy Murchison Falls.

1. Oil threats to Murchison Falls landscape: Murchison Falls and the entire Murchison landscape is under massive pressure from oil threats. Over 70% of the 400 oil wells under Total E&P (U) Ltd’s Tilenga project are in Murchison Falls National Park.

The well pads, pipelines, roads, oil workers’ camps, noise, dust, River Nile crossing and other oil infrastructure that will be developed under the Tilenga project will fundamentally affect both the park and falls. Before the above challenges are addressed, ERA is commencing the process of allowing the destruction of Murchison Falls through allowing a dam. Once a feasibility study is conducted, destruction of the falls will commence. Any proposal therefore to allow a feasibility study for the development of a dam at Murchison Falls must be rejected.

2. Tourism: The tourism sector is one of the leading foreign exchange earners for the country. In the 2018/2019 financial year, tourism earned Uganda over USD 1.6 billion. Murchison falls in addition to Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP) are some of the major tourist attractions in the country contributing to the above high earnings.

In fact, Murchison Falls was the most visited national park in 2018. The Murchison Falls which are some of most scenic, mesmerising and iconic falls in Uganda contribute to the tourist numbers. ERA should not destroy the falls all in the quest of constructing a power plant.

3. Revenue sharing with communities: The 2012-2022 Murchison Falls Protection Area management plan says that because of meticulous planning and various interventions by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), tourist numbers to the Murchison Falls Protection Area rose from 20,000 visitors in 2001 to about 60,000 visitors in 2012.

The rising number of tourists meant that districts and therefore communities bordering MFNP received higher revenues from UWA under the revenue sharing arrangement that UWA has with communities neighbouring national parks.

Information from UWA shows that by 2012, over Shs 1.4 billion had been collected on the revenue sharing account for districts surrounding the MFPA. This income is invested in areas such as tourism training schools, classroom blocks and vocational schools such as those seen in Nwoya district so that communities are skilled to get employment.

Why would ERA want to destroy the fruits of the meticulous efforts by UWA that led to the recovery of MFNP? The park’s tourism potential had been destroyed by the unrest in Uganda in the 1970s and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) war.

4. Employment: In addition to the benefits arising from UWA’s revenue sharing arrangement with communities, MFNP offers direct employment to community members. Cultural performers, hotel owners, tourism operators, guides and others are some of those that the park offers direct employment to.

Meanwhile, the job opportunities that government promised would accrue from industrialisation that would arise from investment in dams still remain a dream. As earlier shown, while the services sector under which tourism belongs employs 50% of Uganda’s labourforce, the industry sector employs only 14.4%!

 Moreover, Ugandans will recall that manufacturers have time and time again said that instead of electricity being an enabler of their activities, it is a constraining factor because of high power tariffs.

5. Excess power: Part of the reason power in Uganda is expensive is because the country is producing excess electricity that citizens cannot consume. During the 2017 State of the Nation address that was delivered by the president on June 14, 2017, the president boasted that Uganda was that Uganda was producing surplus power.

Indeed, the peak demand for power stood at 500MW then and in 2018 against a total installed generation capacity of over 900MW in 2018. The power generated in Uganda is too expensive for citizens to afford such that you find that that Uganda’s population of over 40 million, industries and commercial consumers consume a mere 500MW during peak hours. The amount consumed during offpeak hours is less. It is treason-worthy therefore to destroy Murchison Falls to produce power that cannot be consumed.

6. East African power pools: Moreover, hopes that Uganda will export its expensive excess power to neighbouring countries will be crushed under the East African Power Pool arrangement. Under that arrangement, East African states including Ethiopia that is generating cheaper power at three US cents (Shs116) per unit will pool their power resources together and sell to each other.

 A unit of power from Bujagali dam goes for 11 US cents. As economics dictates, it is likely that East African countries will be attracted to buy cheaper power from 5 other countries such as Ethiopia and Uganda’s expensive power will have little to no demand. It therefore does not make sense for Uganda to destroy Murchison Falls for power that will lack markets.

7. Lack of diversity in energy mix: In addition, Uganda is continuing to invest heavily in hydropower at a time when countries are being advised to diversify their energy mix because climate change could negatively affect sustainable energy supply for countries relying on single energy sources.

Information from ERA shows that as at April 2019, hydropower contributed 929.6MW to the energy mix while thermal, baggase and solar contributed 101.6MW, 96.2MW and 50.8MW respectively.

What is the rationale of investing in more dams at the expense of biodiversity and tourism yet Uganda should be aiming at tapping into other energy sources to diversify the country’s energy mix?

8. Legal action and huge costs: Further, Ugandans have gone to court to challenge the ongoing failures in the Tilenga oil project. The main objective of the legal actions is to ensure that oil activities do not destroy biodiversity and livelihoods. It is likely that the plans to destroy Murchison Falls will also be challenged in court leading to huge costs on government and citizens.

9. International shame: Uganda is a signatory of many international conservation agreements and conventions including the recent Paris Climate Change Accord that emphasise conservation. Destruction of Murchison Falls will make Uganda look like a country that has no respect for nature at a time when the impacts of climate change are undermining our national development agenda.

10. Climate change: Uganda is also experiencing the impacts of climate change, to which fossil fuels such as oil are the biggest contributor, like never before. Flooding, landslides in the Elgon region leading to loss of life, prolonged dry weather conditions that harm agriculture and others are being seen. Uganda needs to promote environmental conservation by avoiding oil and development of electricity dams in protected areas at the very least.

Time Is Now To Enhance Energy Security In Africa

By Emmanuel Okogba

The African Energy Chamber has called on African governments and oil companies to do more to protect the security of energy infrastructure in Africa.

Oil and gas infrastructure is quickly becoming a principal target for terrorists, rogue organizations, hostile state and non-state actors, and criminal enterprises. The recent attacks in the Middle East – the drone attack on the Saudi Aramco pipelines and the attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman – validate a precedent (and unfortunately techniques, tactics, and procedures for those with malicious intent) of using non-complex attack methods to create complex problems for owners/operators of Energy and Natural Resource assets.

As is the case in the Middle East, Africa is seeing an increase in attacks on critical energy infrastructure and natural resource assets: assaults on a gas processing plant, pipeline vandalism, rebel attacks on oil fields and refineries, and ransomware attacks.

One of the major concerns generated by attacks on Energy and Natural Resource assets is the catastrophic impact on the supply of energy products and services across Africa. "The local, regional, and global demand for the energy and natural resource assets owned by African nations is constantly growing. Most nations in Africa depend on the availability of supply of their Natural Resource Assets to generate economic value for their respective societies.

The same is true for the power supply they generate from their Critical Energy Infrastructure Assets which create off-take opportunities – locally, regionally, and globally". Said C. Derek Campbell, CEO of Energy & Natural Resource Security, Inc., who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, with distinction, earning the Bronze Star in Afghanistan.

He served as the U.S. Marine & Naval Attaché to Nigeria. "If this availability of supply is attacked and disrupted, secondary and tertiary negative effects will severely impact companies, industries, and nations relying on this supply of energy products and services from African energy and natural resource owners/operators". Added C. Derek Campbell.

Another major concern generated by attacks on Energy and Natural Resource assets is the impact that these events have on economies that rely on these assets to create revenue. "As with impacts on supply, security threats – physical and cyber – pose an immense danger to all major sectors of the Oil & Gas, Power & Utility, and Natural Resource economic value chain.

This is largely due to sector overlap and interdependency. A physical or cyber-attack on an upstream asset can cause operational challenges midstream that can cause financial catastrophes at the downstream end." The same is true in reverse – a downstream physical or cyber-attack can disrupt midstream operations and bring upstream activity to a halt for a producer. "The same scenario can be applied to power assets – generation, transmission, and distribution.

These types of disruptions can not only negatively impact jobs at the local market level but can also have disastrous impacts on the central banks of African nations who rely on the revenue generated from it's Critical Energy Infrastructure and Natural Resource assets". Added C. Derek Campbell.

"African countries and Oil and Gas companies have to mobilize immediately and take the necessary steps to address this problem. The Chamber will continue to support any efforts to ensure stability and security of oil and gas infrastructure – both onshore and offshore.

It is in the best interest of business and citizens to see this happen". Stated NJ Ayuk Chief Executive Officer of Centurion Law Group and Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber. Protecting and improving the resilience of energy systems mandates vigilance, contingency planning, and training – ultimately requiring African energy stakeholders to be actively and immediately engaged in the physical and cyber protection of their Critical Energy Infrastructure and Natural Resource Assets.

Who Is Munyagwa, Whose Confusion At Cosase Has Rattled Kadaga?

Munyagwa Mubarak Sserunga, the chairman of the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) and legislator representing people of Kawempe South is best known for his comical character.

In recent days, he has made himself a mock for people who understand parliamentary business better than him, a first term MP with a lot to learn, when he re-opened a Bank of Uganda probe in defunct banks that had been debated and passed by Parliament.

The report awaits action as recommendations were made including the sacking of Bank of Uganda officials who messed up the banking sector. It is alleged that Munyagwa is knowingly or unknowingly being used by “guilty” officials at BoU as well as top bankers who were caught on the wrong side of banking rules and procedures.

That Munyagwa could be hoodwinked by Kampala’s economic hit-men, is not surprising due to his lack of experience, ignorance, excitement and unbridled arrogance. However many analysts are more forgiving saying he found the probe the easiest thing he would stage his theatrics.

Munyagwa’s theatrics are legendary, and he could not have been separated from the melodrama that has become his personality. His entry into politics was announced when he reportedly kidnapped himself and later he announced he had been found, in a Kinigeria-like movie script.

That was then, in November 2010, when he was aspiring to be Kawempe Division mayor. Munyagwa standing on the Social Democratic Party ticket, spread word around that he had been kidnapped from his car along the northern by pass. Up to this day, he doesn’t talk about that scenario as would any politician who may want to show their invincibility or persecution.

However, Munyagwa lied to the unsuspecting public that as he neared to Kalerwe, he was kidnapped from his Toyota Noah station wagon, UAN 802Y, leaving stains of blood in the car, but when he was showed up, he had not slightest cut, apart from his Muslim dark mark on his forehead.

Then going by the slogan, “mugaati gwa bata”, Munyagwa emerged out of the blue, when he reported to Kajjansi police station along Entebbe road dressed in a sleeveless T-shirt and pair of shorts.

In 2010, stories of kidnaps were not so rampant, and it is not clear what Munyagwa did to regain his friend since police and family were not involved in his rescue. At the time of re-appearance, his family, was allegedly in the meeting to find way to allocate his children among relatives where they would be taken care of.

However, he had nothing on him to explain where blood stains found inside his abandoned car, came from, apart from street jokes that Munyagwa slaughtered a chicken inside his car to deceive the unsuspecting public that he was actually injured before his fake “kidnap”.

Since, then, Munyagwa’s comic character was born and few people see him as a serious person.

Few politicians come to the press to promise what they intend to do, was “going to be serious”, However, when he was made Cosase chairman,Mr Munyagwa was aware of his unserious character, so he promised “change of character”.

The Cosase chairman also said that he was “double faced” and people would be surprised about his “change of character”.

Munyagwa therefore has served Ugandans with enough skits that it is difficult to separate him from theatrics even during the course of his work in parliament.

Munyagwa has been known for his comical character even in activism which came to full dose in 2011 during the ‘Walk to Work’ protests against rising food and fuel prices in the country.

By this time, Munyagwa had won Mayor of Kawempe division position which he used to his advantage. And after serving the five years as mayor, Munyagwa was elected to parliament. “I wanted to be part of the change movement,” Munyagwa told the media in 2016 after winning a seat in parliament.

“Many Ugandans take me to be terribly stupid because of how I branded myself,” he said, smiling. As a child, Munyagwa admired to be a soldier. He recalls as a nine year old boy, meeting by accident Maj. Gen Fred Rwigyema.

Munyagwa recalls that he was trekking through the bushes close to Kilembe mines in Kasese, western Uganda, with his mother when they came in contact with an army parade commanded by Rwigyema. He was swept away by the saluting and respect that one man had from hundreds of soldiers.

He told his mother that one day he would work hard to become a “military general” like Rwigyema. Rwigyema is one of the NRA 1981-86 bush war hero, but, died in Rwanda in 1990 when Rwandese exiles in Uganda attacked Juvenal Habyarimana’s government.

Munyagwa’s parents were peasants working in fish factories around the shores of Lake George. He attended Mahyoro Primary School, Kitagwenda High School for ordinary lever, St Leo’s College Kyegobe where he finished Senior Six but failed and went to Nakasero Secondary School from where he repeated Senior Six. He now holds a diploma of Laws from Law Development Center and is a mature law student at Makerere University.

He recalls his first encounter with a long arm of the law when he participated in a strike at school in his Senior Six. The move condemned them to do exams coming from police cells. To save the situation, he had to escape from an examination room before the end of the final examination.

“The results weren’t pleasant and when my father learnt of it, he jammed to pay my tuition on private sponsorship at Makerere University,” he said. Apart from wanting to be soldier, he also wanted to be a pharmacist but his poor grades at Senior Six ensured he couldn’t be admitted to the course at university.

In 2001, he enrolled at Makerere University for a Bachelor of Science degree but failed to meet his tuition. He instead switched the programme to an online study arrangement. Later, he embarked on a degree in commerce but still dropped out in third year due to financial constraints.

Everything was falling apart for Munyagwa until the big parade mounted for former Kampala mayor Hajji Nasser Ntege Ssebaggala when he returned from USA prison to Uganda. Then, Munyagwa was a deluded, hopeless young man in the ghettos of Kawempe.

When he got wind of Ssebagala’s return, he joined one of the groups organizing his welcome from the airport.

It is Ssebaggala who inspired Munyagwa to be a politician. Then, Ssebagala was talking of standing for President, and he saw a chance to be someone in Ssebagala’s government.

“At that time, school was not on my agenda because I never thought that academic documents would be of any help”, Munyagwa told Uganda Radio Network.

As luck would have it, Ssebaggala’s presidential ambitions went off the rails and his disciples including Munyagwa had to look for something else to do. That is when he saw a window to stand as Kawempe Division mayor in 2011 where he was a one term mayor. He jumped into the MP contest and won. The rest is history.

And today he is the chairperson of Cosase.

 SOURCE: Watchdog Uganda

We Must Take Action To Fight Air Pollution

By Samuel Okulony

On 5th of June every year, Uganda joins the rest of the world to celebrate World Environment Day which is one of the principles under the United Nation to create awareness and action for environmental conservation.

 This year, the celebrations have been organized under the theme “Beat Air pollution” which has become one of the biggest threats of our time to the environment and human health.

 Air pollution, refers to the release of harmful and excessive substances such as gases, particles, and biological molecules into the atmosphere that are dangerous to both human health and the environment.

 According to World Health Organization (WHO) 2016, air pollution levels have remained dangerously high in many parts of the world with 9 out of every 10 people breathing air containing high levels of pollutants and is responsible for an estimated 7 million death every year around the world.

 This is particularly raising the disease and death burden in both developed and developing countries and women and children are the most affected especially from indoor air pollution coming from the continued use and burning of biomass to meet household energy cooking needs releasing deadly smoke.

 To a large extent globally, energy production and use are the major causes of air pollution ranging from inefficient burning of biomass to burning of fossil fuels which releases gases and chemicals into the atmosphere which does not only increase pollution in the atmosphere, but also contributes to climate change causing global warming.

 As we reflect on the burdens caused by air pollution on environment day, it’s important to note that, air pollution does not recognize borders or territories, the pollutants released in one region can still affect the other and this requires sustained and coordinated efforts by governments to take action at all levels. This requires countries to work together on solutions to reduce air pollution ranging from adopting sustainable transport, more efficient and renewable energy production and use.

 Several cities around the world have already taken initiatives to lower their air pollution levels, for instance in March 2019, I visited City of Amsterdam, Netherlands where city transport system was dominated by use of bicycles with more bicycles parks than vehicle parks in the city while public transport was mainly electrified with timed Trums that moved around the city. This significantly improved the air quality within the city and I believe other countries can borrow a leaf.

 As Uganda joins the rest of the world to celebrating World Environment Day 2019, it is important to self-reflect on where we are and where we need to be and take action to achieve it including adopting and implementing strategies such as developing the public transport systems that could contribute to the reduction in the number of vehicles moving into the cities, channeling the environmental tax on old vehicles to be used to mitigate the impacts so as to have carbon neutral vehicles in the country and ensure that green parks are not degraded to enable air filtration.

 If we don’t act now, one day the air in our cities will be so polluted that we can not breath and oxygen bars will rise and will become an added cost to the already high cost of living and a heath burden to both the government and citizens.

 

Samuel Okulony

Environmental scientist 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   

+256779760145

 

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