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Constitution emboldens citizens to take part in budgeting

February 9, 2013 Leave a comment

Pambazuka

By George Jaramba and Salim Changani

February 7, 2013

Despite being some of the most taxed citizens of the world, Kenyans have had little say in the manner their economy is managed. For as long as the country has been independent, the national budget , normally announced in June every year, has dictated the costs of basic commodities and essential services. Weeks before the minister for finance makes the important budget speech in parliament, many unscrupulous traders deliberately create a scarcity of particular commodities whose prices they expect to go up on Budget Day. This unpopular trend has affected the cost of essential commodities such as sugar, cooking oil, maize meal, petrol and kerosene just to mention but a few.

But of crucial concern is the manner the minister prioritizes the issues he wishes the government to spend the most on. In the past, budget allocations have favoured some government departments as opposed to others which are equally in need. The end result in such circumstances has, however, not been very helpful in the general growth of the national economy.

The Constitution of Kenya (2010) has, however, given much impetus to the ordinary citizen to participate in the management and decision-making process in governance socially, economically and politically. Article 174 illustrates this point. It is this constitutional relief that the residents of Kwale County have taken advantage of to come up with their own budget proposals as a means of kick-starting their development agenda.

Dubbed Participatory Budget for local governments (PB), residents of Kwale County in collaboration with representatives of local community based organizations are working in partnership with Fahamu, a nongovernmental organization, to sensitize the communities to develop their budgets at the ward level as a way of ensuring that agenda setting begins at the community level.

Participatory budgeting is a process of democratic deliberation and decision-making, and a type of participatory democracy, in which ordinary people decide how to allocate part of a municipal or public budget.

The practice allows citizens to identify, discuss, and prioritize public spending on projects, and gives them the power to make actual decisions on which projects to undertake as a matter of priority.

Although the concept is yet to be actualized in Kenya, participatory budgeting has worked in other parts of the world including the US, UK, Brazil, South Africa and Senegal. Fahamu is currently piloting the concept in two Kenyan counties, namely Kwale in the Coast and Kajiado in the Rift Valley region.

In September 2012, the Kwale community engaged in a needs assessment process after which the priority areas were identified before electing budget delegates at the ward level. Kwale County currently has 20 wards following the recent boundary demarcations by the Andrew Ligale-led Interim Independent Boundaries Commission. The 20 wards are in Matuga, Msambweni, Kinango and the newly created Lunga-Lunga constituencies.

The ward delegates are charged with developing specific spending proposals which will later be presented to the community for validation. If the community approves of the proposals, the same are to be forwarded to the county government for consideration of implementation.

If implemented, participatory budgeting is expected to raise the social and economic well-being of the two counties. Areas that are expected to benefit significantly include education, health, agriculture, roads and energy sectors.

Kwale and Kajiado participatory budget committees are scheduled to engage individuals seeking elective positions at the county level to sign a charter declaring that they will support and advocate for the implementation of the concept.

The fate of this noble idea now depends on the outcome of the forthcoming elections and whether the elected leadership implements the proposals submitted by the communities.

Various studies have suggested that participatory budgeting results in more equitable public spending, higher quality of life, increased satisfaction of basic needs, greater government transparency and accountability, increased levels of public participation (especially by marginalized or poorer residents), and democratic and citizenship learning.

* George Jaramba is the Ward Delegate elected through the Participatory Budgeting project for Gombato-Bongwe while Salim Changani works with Msabweni Human Rights Watch.

Manhattan Corp awarded R160m Ethiopia EPCM contract

January 15, 2013 Leave a comment

Mining Weekly

By Nathalie Greve

January 14th, 2013

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Local mining services provider Manhattan Corporation would undertake a R160-million contract to build a 25 000 t/m carbon-in-leach (CIL) gold plant, in Mekelle, in Ethiopia, for industrial group Ezana Mining and Development.

The contract would see Manhattan supplying the gold plant on a turnkey basis and included design, engineering, procurement, shipment, construction, installation, implementation, after-sales skills development and support, with an optional offtake contract.

Work on the operation began earlier this month and the plant was expected to be operational by the end of the year.

The company added that the plant process would incorporate crushing, milling, leaching, carbon absorption, washing, stripping, elution, electrowinning and smelting.

“Manhattan is committed to incorporating Ethiopian suppliers, manufacturers and content to maximise job creation and economic development in that country,” Manhattan FD Theo Pouroullis said in a statement.

The plant would incorporate several innovative technologies, including optimised leaching and air-sparging, as well as adaptable feed to the comminution circuit to allow for improved plant availability, up-time and increased final gold production.

The technology provided incorporated CIL and carbon-in-pulp, which consisted of a series of tanks enabling adequate residence time.
The first two tanks would be used for leaching while the remaining six would be used for leaching and absorption.

Manhattan also recently concluded a plant expansion feasibility study for a Glencore subsidiary, in Australia, which involved an assessment of the increase in processing capacity for the operation and a reduction in the overall operating costs.

Additional recent projects included the development of a three-dimensional underground resource development and mine plan for the Manhattan-owned Gravelotte gold mine, in South Africa, which increased the resource from previous inferred resource estimates to a one-million-ounce probable gold reserve.

Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn

World Bank Advised Ethiopia to Audit Large Telecom Agreements

January 14, 2013 Leave a comment

Business Ethiopia

Reporter

January 11, 2013

The World Bank (WB) in its report on the status of corruption in Ethiopia advised the government to audit Ethio Telecom’s large agreements. 

According to the report launched this morning at the Hilton Addis, focusing on the level of corruption in the country in different sector sectors, the government needs to apply standards to Ethio Telecom that are in line with Ethiopia’s Public Procurement Proclamation.

The report, “Diagnosing Corruption in Ethiopia”, in its subtopic that assessed the level of corruption in the telecom sector also stated that absence of uniform procurement standards is one of the major causes of corruption, among others.

The report highlighted that the vendor financing contract entered into by the then ETC (Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation now named Ethio Telecom) in 2006 appears to be highly unusual. “…This brief study should not be seen as an investigation or interpreted as alleging in itself that corruption has necessarily occurred. However, the circumstances as perceived both by stakeholders and by independent observers do raise serious questions about the control of risks in this sector.”

The stakeholders of the then 1.5 billion US dollars vendor financing argue that ETC’s financial requirements were not provided in detail to those suppliers (other than possibly the winning supplier –China’s ZTE) that had been approached to consider providing such financing. The report also stated that there is no evidence of a formal tender procedure for the finance package.

“The supplier selected by the ETC to supply the finance package that suited the ETC’s purposes. The equipment supply element of the vendor financing contract was not put out to competitive tender.”
The report stated that generally the contract was not in accordance with the ETC’s procurement procedure and no competitive tender for the contract and subcontracts.

“Difficulty in measuring technical compliance: By appointing one supplier without competitive tender, the ETC has no opportunity to assess the degree of technical compliance of the supplier’s equipment. The contract was also inappropriate and went through unclear procedures for ensuring technical quality and competitive pricing,” according to the report.

In addition, the report further mentioned that Ethio Telecom is vulnerable to corruption because it is under government monopoly.

Health, education, water, justice, construction, land and mining are also the sectors surveyed by the report sponsored by the World Bank, Canada International Development Agency, UK Aid and the government of the Netherlands.

“Some of the recommendations of the report are under implementation,” said Ali Suleman, Commissioner of the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC).  While the report also recalled that in January 2008, the FEACC 2008 brought charges against a former ETC CEO and 26 former ETC executives for allegedly “procuring low-quality equipment from companies that were supposed to be rejected on the basis of procurement regulations.”

World Bank country Director, Guang Zhe Chen, on his part stressed that the purpose of the study is conducted to support evidence-based policy formation.

Somalia: UN experts on use of mercenaries urge greater oversight for private security contractors

December 20, 2012 Leave a comment

UN News Centre

18 December 2012 – The Government of Somalia must do more to ensure the security of its citizens while increasing regulations on private military and security companies, a United Nations expert panel urged today at the conclusion of its seven-day visit to the Horn of Africa country.

“As Somalia rebuilds its security institutions, the Government should ensure that private security forces are properly regulated and do not become a substitute for competent and accountable police,” said Faiza Patel, who currently heads the UN’s Working Group on the use of mercenaries.

“All Somalis have the right to security, not just those who can afford to pay for it,” she added.

After decades of factional fighting, the East Africa country has been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process, with a series of landmark steps that have helped bring an end to the country’s nine-year political transition period and the resulting security vacuum which rendered Somalia one of the most lawless States on the planet. These steps included the adoption of a Provisional Constitution, the establishment of a new Parliament and the appointments of a new President and a new Prime Minister.

The Working Group commended the formation of the new Government and its efforts to establish a functioning, peaceful and democratic nation. It noted, however, that the new administration needed to reinforce its control over the private armed security sector through redefined laws and offered its assistance in developing such legislation by drawing on best practices learned from other countries.

“Such laws and their consistent application are critical to guarantee that private security providers operate in a legal, transparent and accountable manner,” Working Group-member Anton Katz stated, adding that the availability of private security should not detract from “the urgent need to provide security for all Somalis.”

In its findings, the Working Group noted that some private security contractors have not always operated transparently in the East African country and, occasionally, veer away from their prescribed goals of providing simple protection from armed factions, bandits and pirates.

Pointing to one instance in the state of Puntland, the UN experts cited incidents involving the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) which was created with the aim to repel the continuing scourge of piracy afflicting the Somali coast.

The Working Group established that the PMPF had engaged in operations unrelated to piracy, including a recent case in which the police force had worked to prevent a candidate for the Puntland presidency from campaigning in Bossaso, the area’s largest city.

Ms. Patel warned that the PMPF was operating outside the legal framework and called on local authorities to integrate the force into “the agreed-upon Somali national security structure and ensure that it is used strictly for the purposes for which it is intended.”

Turning to the issue of piracy – a problem which has long affected international shipping in the heavily trafficked waterways off the coast of Somalia – the UN experts said they were satisfied that piracy had decreased over the past year, although they expressed concern at the continuing use of armed guards aboard vessels.

Ms. Patel called upon the international community to reach an agreement on regulations and procedures regarding the use of armed personnel in the shipping industry, cautioning that a failure to do so created risks for human rights violations at sea.

At the same time, the Working Group also examined the use of private contractors by the UN as well as the UN-backed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and welcomed efforts to ensure that the security providers had a clean human rights record and maintained the “gold standard” when it came to human rights issues.

In addition to Ms. Patel of Pakistan, the working group is currently composed of Patricia Arias of Chile, Elzbieta Karska of Poland, Anton Katz of South Africa, and Gabor Rona of the United States and Hungary. Reporting to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, they are independent from any government or organization, and serve in their individual capacities.

Foreign Money and Revolving Doors

December 14, 2012 Leave a comment

December 12, 2012

It was difficult to take seriously the attack on President Obama’s UN ambassador, Susan Rice, based on her faulty renditions of events surrounding the killing of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya. Certainly, her performance on the Sunday TV talk shows was unimpressive, whatever conclusions one may draw as to what accounted for her persistent inaccuracies in describing what happened. But there was no real evidence that she willfully dissembled on the matter, and it didn’t seem to be of a magnitude to disqualify her for the job of Secretary of State, to which Obama reportedly wants to nominate her.

The subsequent reports about her actions regarding various African conflicts and her coziness with certain brutal strongman figures are another matter. These call into question her judgment and generate puzzlement about just what drives her views and attitudes about the bloody conflagrations that erupt with such regularity on that continent. These matters clearly would justify voting against her if any confirmation resolution made its way to the Senate, although many supporters of Rice—and of Obama—would find ways to dismiss the issue.

But there’s one fact in the background of Susan Rice that ought to be considered disqualifying—her past work for Rwanda when she was a consultant with a strategic consulting firm called Intellibridge. The riff on Rice is that she has demonstrated a certain softness toward Rwanda and particularly its president, Paul Kagame, in various policy deliberations regarding Rwanda’s support for a brutal rebel group that is wreaking havoc in neighboring Congo. And some have wondered if her past business relationship with Rwanda may be influencing her thinking on the matter.

But let’s step back here. We can never know for sure just what drives Rice’s ongoing desire to shield the Rwandan leader from international censure and pressure, though her actions, as reported recently by Helene Cooper in the New York Times, aren’t particularly fragrant. But we do know that she took money from an African government after serving in the State Department as assistant secretary for African affairs.

There’s nothing wrong with contracting with foreign governments who want influence in the U.S. capital. And some Washington bigwigs have made lots of money catering to these governments and their leaders. That’s fine. I wouldn’t even argue that Obama should succeed in extracting more tax dollars from these people.

But our country’s Secretary of State represents the United States of America throughout the world—to countries large and small; in matters weighty and trivial. There should never be any doubt—abroad or at home—about what drives the sentiments and actions of such high governmental officials: the national interest, as determined by the nation’s president.

No president should ever appoint to the position of secretary of state anyone who has ever taken money from a foreign government. There should be a clear dichotomy between getting rich serving the interests of other countries in the U.S. capital and serving U.S. interests at the top of America’s foreign-policy establishment.

In fact, there ought to be a law. Congress should pass legislation debarring from such elevated positions of service in the foreign-policy realm people who have had business relationships with foreign countries. No debates about how long those relationships lasted . . . or how much money was involved . . . or whether it really and truly would color the person’s judgment or outlook on countries of past financial alignment. The law would cut through all that by saying simply that you can take money from foreign governments or you can represent your country abroad, but you can’t do both.

Paul R. Pillar of Georgetown, writing in these spaces, noted accurately the problems that arise when top Washington officials navigate the enticing revolving door between government service and rich contracts in the private sector. He said Rice’s attachment to Kagame and his government illustrates “the baggage that in-and-outers may acquire during periods that they are out of government.” He adds, “Relationships…of advocacy, trust and taking action on behalf of the client’s interests are not relationships that can be turned on and off like a light switch.”

True, but it gets difficult to sort it all out, and efforts to do so simply confuse the matter and foster endless debate.

In Helene Cooper’s Times piece, Rice’s acolytes rushed to her defense by saying that her past connection with Rwanda hasn’t affected her behavior as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations—and hence presumably wouldn’t do so if she were secretary of state. Her spokesman, Payton Knopf, told the Times, “Ambassador Rice’s brief consultancy at Intellibridge has had no impact on her work at the United Nations. She implements the agreed policy of the Unites States at the U.N.” Perhaps. But that’s hardly the point. The question is what kind of advocacy does she put forth before the agreed policy of the United States is determined.

We don’t know the answer to that question and, if we did, we still wouldn’t know what motivations affected whatever advocacy Ms. Rice embraced. But, if Congress drew a line between foreign representation and U.S. foreign service, it wouldn’t matter. No debate. Her name wouldn’t come up.

No such line is going to be forthcoming from Congress. It is not in the interest of official Washington, and the American people don’t care. But, if Obama sends up Rice’s name for secretary of state, an ugly debate will ensue. And it will be a debate that should have been avoided.

Robert W. Merry is editor of The National Interest and the author of books on American history and foreign policy. His most recent book is Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians.

Rethinking the Fight Against Corruption

December 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Brookings News

By Daniel Kaufmann

Fighting corruption requires a new understanding of how the global problem has evolved, for it is bigger and broader than petty bribery or crooked deals in developing countries. Merely adopting a new anti-corruption law, creating another commission, or launching another ‘campaign’ will not get the job done. We can no longer fight corruption by simply fighting corruption alone.

Corruption is a symptom of a larger disease — the failure of institutions and governance, resulting in poor management of revenues and resources and an absence of delivery of public goods and services. We must think beyond anti-corruption rhetoric and traditional tactics. We need to be more strategic and rigorous, identifying and addressing corruption’s underlying causes and examining the weaknesses in key institutions and government policies and practices. We have to focus our efforts on the broader context of governance and accountability. Only then can we see the many other shapes and forms corruption can take and address this epidemic.

Of its many guises, legal corruption is a particularly pernicious one that gets insufficient attention. Legal corruption refers to efforts by companies and individuals to shape law or policies to their advantage, often done quasi-legally, via campaign finance, lobbying or exchange of favors to politicians, regulators and other government officials. It is dealings between venal politicians and powerful financial and industrial executives. In its more extreme form, legal corruption can lead to control of entire states, through the phenomenon dubbed ‘state capture,’ and result in enormous losses for societies.

In many developing countries, legal and illegal corruption coexists, and it has become commonplace for multinational oil and mining companies to collude with elite politicians to deprive citizens of the benefits of their natural resourcesNigeria lost $35 billion over the last 10 years through corruption and mismanagement of its oil industry. The evidence suggests — and the people of these developing countries attest — growth cannot sustain where corruption thrives.

The reach of legal corruption, however, is not limited to countries with weak governments. It has also enabled Wall Street investment banks to unduly influence financial oversight institutions, bringing the U.S. and the global economy to the brink four years ago, and in recent months allowed collusion between U.K. and possibly U.S. banks to fix the global interest rate for their benefit.

This kind of corruption is a complex, multidimensional problem that needs to be confronted at every level. If we, as an international community, are going to get at its core, we need to recognize that improving governmental institutions is key. Good governance only starts with elections and higher levels of transparency. Elections cannot be effective unless they are free, fair and clean, and complemented by real freedom of expression. Transparency with impunity will not bring forth justice or make governments accountable. Broader governance reforms require serious progress in rule of law to make any real, lasting impact. Equally important is a free press. While we have seen progress towards democracy in many parts of the world, roughly two-thirds does not have a fully free media and, in some countries, the movement is backwards.

As crucial is the management of the world’s natural resources. Today, 700 million people, in about 60 countries, live in poverty though they sit atop billions of dollars in oil, gas and minerals. Such abject poverty in the midst of abundance is a call for action. The overwhelming majority of these citizens live in poorly governed countries — those that rate low in corruption control, transparency and accountability. The governance of these resources and the wealth they generate will make or break the development of these nations, and the social, economic, political and security implications will be far and wide.

The future of these resource-rich countries no longer rests mainly on foreign aid but on the extent and effective use of the country’s own resources and how they use them. For that to occur, a focused and concrete approach to improve governance and accountability is critical. Reshaping the fight against corruption into a smarter strategy that integrates the challenge of improving governance and institutions in both the public and private sphere is the way forward.

Analysis: New law fails to ease oil concerns in Uganda

December 14, 2012 Leave a comment

IRIN NEWS

KAMPALA/NAIROBI, 13 December 2012 (IRIN) – Uganda’s parliament recently passed a law to govern the exploration, development and production of the country’s estimated three billion barrels of oil, a resource whose extraction will directly affect the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people.

While the law streamlines the burgeoning industry, analysts have raised concerns over transparency and over who controls the sector.

“The new law helps set clear guidelines under which the oil sector is to be run and managed, and makes clear who is in charge of what roles,” said Tony Otoa, director of Great Lakes Public Affairs (GLPA), a Uganda-based think tank focusing on oil and governance. “However, there are some concerns about transparency and too much power within the oil industry in the hands of the president.”

The bill was passed on 7 December after weeks of wrangling over its controversial Clause 9, which gives the energy minister wide-ranging powers, including authority over the granting and revoking of oil licenses, negotiating and endorsing petroleum agreements, and promoting and sustaining transparency in the petroleum sector. Many members of parliament (MPs) felt these powers should be held by an independent national oil authority.

“Essentially, the standoff, which has ended, was about the withdrawal of trust from a government that is battered by corruption scandals. Also the way the cabinet operates is that, in the past, the feeling has been that some key ministries, like finance, are effectively run by the presidency after being stuffed by yes-men or -women. The pushback against Clause 9 also comes as the Central Bank opened its vaults to a large withdrawal in 2010 [US$740 million to buy six fighter jets] only for approvals to be sought retrospectively,” said Angelo Izama, a Ugandan journalist and oil sector analyst.

“Loss of trust”

“This loss of trust is behind the resistance to greater control by the executive,” he added. “The executive has not been a bad shepherd of the process so far. Uganda’s negotiating position has been tougher with the oil companies, ironically, without the oversight of parliament. However, public scandals elsewhere have negatively affected the ability of the president to convince lawmakers – especially of his party – that he means well.”

A number of donors – including the UK and Ireland – recently suspended aid to Uganda following allegations of deep-rooted corruption in the Office of the Prime Minister. The prime minister, the former energy minister and the foreign affairs minister were all accused of taking kick-backs from oil companies in 2011, charges that remain unproven but that nevertheless damage the reputation of the government.

“The country lacks trust in the state… Institutions and officials have lost legitimacy, and for such an important bill to vest too much power into a political appointee is a recipe for disaster,” said Stephen Oola, a transitional justice and governance analyst at Uganda’s Makerere University Refugee Law Project.

“Granting and revoking licenses and negotiations are technical in nature. We need an independent commission or authority made up of people of good competence, technical ability and experience, and good morals to guard our oil,” said Frank Gashumba, a local businessman and social activist.

Proponents of Clause 9 say licensing powers are safer in the hands of the cabinet than under an oil authority. “The authority is open, easy to bribe and manipulate. Cabinet is bigger than the authority – members of the executive are answerable to Ugandans because they are elected leaders,” said Kenneth Omona, a ruling party MP.

Those opposed to it say they will challenge the law, which was passed with 149 votes in favour and 39 against; some 198 MPs did not turn up to vote.

“The fight is not complete; the passing of the bill is liable to be challenged in courts of law,” said Theodore Ssekikubo, ruling party MP and chair of the parliamentary forum on oil and gas. “If we fail to go to court, we shall subject the matter to a referendum for all Ugandans to pronounce themselves on this strategic resource. We want to ensure transparency and accountability in the oil sector.”

Transparency

There are also concerns about the law’s confidentiality clause, which limits the amount of information accessible by the public.

“The law is lacking transparency – it imposes confidentiality on officials working within the sector, even after they leave office, so there is no opportunity for whistle-blowing or for the public to have access to information on, say, production-sharing agreements,” GLPA’s Otoa said.

He noted that Uganda still hasn’t joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international scheme that attempts to set a global standard for transparency in oil, gas and mining, further compounding the sector’s lack of transparency. As a member of the EITI, Uganda and oil companies involved in the country would be required to publish all payments and revenues from the industry.

While Total and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), two of Uganda’s major oil partners, are listed on Wall Street and are therefore subject to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act – which requires disclosure of payments relating to the acquisition of licenses for exploration and production of oil, gas and minerals – the Irish firm Tullow Oil, another of Uganda’s main oil partners, is not under any similar obligations.

“I am worried we [legislators] and the public can’t access and scrutinize these agreements. You can imagine the recently negotiated and signed oil agreements have not been accessed by the public, not even by members of parliament,” Beatrice Anywar, former shadow energy minister, told IRIN.

The impact of the oil sector has so far been most acutely felt by communities around Lake Albert, thousands of whom have had to move – some willingly and some forcefully – to make room for an oil refinery, which is expected to take up 29sqkm and displace some 8,000 people.

Land issues

“The government is prosecuting the refinery resettlement by the book. However, managing public expectations and the process of multiple decision makers in Uganda’s complex land legal system [Uganda has multiple land systems, including customary, leasehold and freehold] has contributed some volatility to the process… What is adequate compensation? And who determines that? Is it the market or should this be done by the government?” said journalist Izama.

“As a partner to the oil companies, it’s questionable too if the government can make the best decisions for the affected people as it would look to keep project costs fairly low,” he continued. “It is still a dilemma which is jurisprudential as well as political.”

He noted that much of the oil is in game reserves and a sensitive basin with lakes, rivers and a rare biodiversity, and borders the Democratic Republic of Congo, which could also pose challenges for peaceful production; there has already been some tension between the two countries over their boundaries within Lake Albert.

“The process of consensus-building is still weak, and regardless of how it’s arrived at, displacements will create uncomfortable realities, including land and job pressure.”

According to Otoa, Uganda’s lack of a comprehensive land policy makes compensation issues more complex. “We need clear land policies to ensure people are properly compensated – there is a Resettlement Action Plan in place, but it has not been implemented, and a draft land policy has not been actualized, leaving these communities vulnerable,” he said.

He noted that the lack of education among the local population, both in the oil-rich areas and the rest of the country, had contributed to the continued problems in the sector.

“We have focused too much on educating MPs on the implications and importance of good oil governance. We need to move to people-centred approaches and encourage dialogue in the public sphere, which will lead to people demanding accountability from their MPs and the government,” he added.

Ultimately, Izama said, responsible actions by the government will be the difference between Uganda’s oil making a significant impact on the country’s economy or causing conflict and greater poverty.

“Pressure on public institutions prior to commercial oil production is an effective way of counteracting the resource curse. If this public engagement falters, if the transition [from President Museveni to his successor] is volatile, some of the scenarios of the so-called oil curse are possible,” he said. “Overall the tensions are high, but responsible actions by public and political institutions like the past debate show progress is possible.”

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