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Banks opt out of oil pipeline funding



A map showing the Hoima-Tanga oil pipeline route.

The $3.5b East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project could run into trouble after some international commercial banks withdrew from funding the construction of the world’s longest heated crude oil pipeline proposed by French Oil Company Total and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC).

“The banks provided statements making it clear they will not support the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline [EACOP]after an open letter endorsed by 263 organisations from around the world was sent to 25 banks considered most likely to be approached for financing,” a March 18 press release from Inclusive Development International, read in part.

“Barclays does not intend to participate in the financing of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline project,” it further read.

Credit Suisse is also said to share the same position with Barclays.

On this, an alliance of African and international environmental and human rights organisations have claimed another win in their campaign to stop the construction of the oil pipeline.

Bank Track, which is among these organisations, raised the red flag over alleged ignored social and environmental concerns along with the project.

“The EACOP is manifestly incompatible with global efforts to reduce our carbon emissions. Banks simply can’t have it both ways – you can’t claim to be serious about climate change and support climate-destroying projects like the EACOP,” Mr Ryan Brightwell, the Researcher and Editor at BankTrack, said.

When Daily Monitor asked Mr Brightwell about the authenticity of the quoted bank statements in their release, responded in an email, “the banks provided the statements to us, with permission for us to publish them on the website: If you wish to confirm these statements with the banks themselves or seek further comment from them, may I suggest you contact their press offices.”

Daily Monitor sought confirmation from Credit Suisse through the Media Relations, Credit Suisse Group in Zurich, Switzerland, both on email and phone calls. “Thanks for reaching out. I can confirm: Credit Suisse is not considering participating in the EACOP project. Kind regards,” Mr Yannick Orto, the Credit Suisse Services Ag Group External Communications in Zürich, responded.

Mr Orto said as a bank policy, they will not give the reason why they are not supporting the EACOP and advised everyone to only use their “public statement” .

Daily Monitor could not reach Barclays Bank through its corporate and investment contacts as provided on the bank’s website for press and media. Our  calls could not be answered by the bank and the voice mail message left was not returned.

However, the bank is quoted on the #STOPEACOP campaign: “Barclays does not intend to participate in the financing of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline project” as its public statement.

“Besides climate and environmental risks, our field investigations reveal serious human rights violations already caused by EACOP, with tens of thousands of people deprived of their livelihoods before having received any compensation. We call on French banks to commit themselves quickly and publicly not to finance this project,” Juliette Renaud, the senior campaigner at Friends of the Earth France, said.

It is, however, not clear whether the banks’ refusal to finance the project is related to the environment. Mr Samuel Okulony, the chief executive officer of the Uganda-based Environment Governance Institute, said the next 10 years will be critical for efforts to mitigate the severity of climate change and that the pipeline will generate an additional 34 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year, which is disastrous.

Mr David Pred, the executive director of Inclusive Development International, said it would be a significant blow to the project if Standard Bank was to walk away, given the key role it has played as a financial advisor in arranging the $2.5 billion project loan that is required to finance construction.

“Any credible assessment would find that this project is too risky for the millions of people whose water resources it would jeopardise and for our rapidly warming climate, which simply cannot afford another massive oil project,” Mr Pred said.

Affected persons

The environmental and rights activists say the project stretching nearly 1,445 kms threatens to displace families and farmers and would pose risk to water resources and wetlands – including the Lake Victoria basin, which more than 40 million people rely on.

According to a report released by Oxfam International in September 2020 titled ‘‘empty promises down the line’’ a human rights impact assessment on the EACOP, approximately 200 households will be relocated.

The report adds that an estimated 3,200 to 3,500 households will be economically displaced, meaning they will lose land whereas in Tanzania, 391 households will lose land as part of the priority areas and 9,122 will lose land for the pipeline right of way.

Oil companies, govt respond

Both the oil companies and government have been slow to comment.

Ms Linda Nabirye, the external communications coordinator for Total E&P Uganda, referred us to their March 8 press release that responds to some issues raised by the banks and the NGOs.

The release titled: “Uganda and Tanzania: Total acts in transparency on social and environmental stakes of the Lake Albert resources development project,” said the projects Tilenga in Uganda and the EACOP in Uganda and Tanzania “are undertaken in a sensitive environmental context and require the implementation of land acquisition programmes with a specific attention to respecting the rights of the communities concerned.”

Total says environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) studies have been conducted and approved by the Ugandan and Tanzanian authorities for both projects, which are carried out in compliance with the stringent performance standards of the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Total also said it would work closely with Uganda Wildlife Authority and with IUCN experts to integrate the best practices for the protection of chimpanzees, particularly by promoting the conservation of forest habitats.

Ms Amina Bukenya, the spokesperson for CNOOC, asked us to send questions on her email which she had not responded to by press time.

On the government side, Ms Stella Amony, the communications lead for EACOP, replied: “The matter is sensitive and needs a collective response from the joint venture members.”

Ms Angella Karisa Ambaho, the communications Officer of Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) said: “I am still waiting for approval of my response to your questions you raised on email, which I shared with my superiors”.

Established in 2013, UNOC is mandated to hold 15 per cent of Uganda’s petroleum licences on behalf of the government.

Local NGOs take on the issue

Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), a registered public policy research and advocacy organisation whose main objectives is to promote environmental conservation and community rights in the extractives sector, said the banks turning down requests to finance CNOOC and Total is a signal to other financiers to  consider their .

“….Climate change, environmental and social risks of the project are immense and when banks see other financial institutions taking a step back and refusing to finance the project, they also re-assess their participation,” Ms Diana Nabiruma, the senior communications officer at AFIEGO, said.

Mr Brian Nahamya, a programmes associate at Global Rights Alert, an NGO involved in advocacy for the oil pipeline PAPs, said the land acquisition was done but no project affected person has received compensation since the end of the valuation process in 2018/2019.

‘‘…Every person affected by this project from Hoima to Rakai, no one has received compensation up to date,” he said.

Holes poked on EACOP Environmental remedies

Despite the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) issuing a certificate of approval to Total East Africa for an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) as required by law on such a project in 2019, other international environmentalists have poked holes in it.

Section 3.3 of the Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (NCEA)  report on water and wetlands crossings and water use contends that “The ESIA does not make clear why open trench river crossings are chosen as the way to go. This is critical as major rivers typically come together with wide wetlands.”

The oil pipeline route

In Uganda, the oil pipeline will traverse through Hoima, Kikuube, Kakumiro, Mubende, Kyankwanzi, Gomba, Rakai, Lwengo, Kyotera, and Sembabule districts.

According to the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline Environment and Impact Assessment Report 2019, the pipeline will originate from Kabaale, Hoima District and snake through different communities for a distance of 296km before it approaches the Uganda-Tanzanian border.

About the project

The East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) is a proposed 1,445km-pipeline that will transport oil from Hoima in Uganda to Tanga port in Tanzania.

About 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil have been discovered in the Albertine Graben, the basin of Lake Albert, on the border between Uganda and DR Congo. The extraction will take place at two oil fields: the Kingfisher field, operated by China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and the Tilenga field, operated by Total S.A.

In September 2020 both Tanzania and Uganda agreed on the $3.5b oil pipeline project after years of discussing the relative merits of different routes out to the Indian Ocean.

Work was scheduled to start by the end of 2020 but the Covid-19 pandemic delayed the project. Tanzania says the project will create 10,000 jobs and that more than 90,000 people would be compensated to pave the way for the pipeline.

The oil will be partly refined in Uganda to supply the local market and partly exported to the international market via the EACOP.  The project is being implemented by a joint venture of oil companies operating in the Albertine Graben including CNOOC and Total and Uganda government through the Uganda National Oil Company and Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation.

Original Source: Daily monitor

farm news

Falling coffee prices, reduced output forecasts rattle Uganda farmers



There has been a slump in international coffee prices and shipping costs in the last quarter of 2022

Uganda’s coffee industry is walking into a challenging 2023 defined by falling prices and diminished output forecasts following the recent dry spell that hit major growing areas.

While the sector enjoyed a boom between 2020 and 2022 – with surging coffee prices, rising export volumes and considerable incomes for farmers – decline in international shipping costs and improved production forecasts in Brazil triggered a slump in coffee prices in the last quarter of 2022, according to industry players.

International shipping costs dropped from record highs of $10,000 per container charged on certain sea routes in January 2022 to less than $2,000. Shipping fees charged per 20-foot container ferried from Indonesia to North America, for example, are estimated at $800-$1,000 currently.

Consequently, local and international coffee prices have dropped since October 2022.

International robusta coffee prices fell from an average price of $2,400 per tonne to $1,856 per tonne towards the end of last year, according to industry data. Local robusta coffee prices declined from Ush7,200 ($1.9) per kilogramme to Ush5,800 ($1.6) per kilogramme during the second half of 2022 while Arabica coffee prices fell from Ush11,000 ($2.9) per kilogramme to Ush8,000 ($2) per kilogramme in the period.

In 2021, average coffee prices stood at more than Ush15,000 ($4) per kilogramme.

Dry spell

Robusta coffee production accounts for more than 60 percent of Uganda’s overall coffee output.

Besides gloomy coffee price forecasts for 2023, a severe dry spell in the past six months could pose a huge threat to coffee production levels. The weather affected major coffee-growing areas like the Central region and risks cutting this year’s output to around 5.5 million bags, industry players forecast.

“Brazil and Vietnam are headed for a bumper coffee harvest this year while India and Indonesia have discounted their local coffee prices in a way that has undercut Uganda’s growth momentum on the international market,” said Robert Byaruhanga, chief executive of local exporter Funzo Coffee Ltd.

Post-Covid shift

Asian and Latin American coffee exporters are regaining dominance in European and North American markets after the lockdown period because of the lower coffee prices, reduced freight charges, shorter port clearance turnaround times and reasonable coffee quality grades, Byaruhanga explained.

Ugandan farmers are now holding onto their coffee produce in anticipation of better prices.

Overall coffee exports stood at 6.26 million bags valued at $862.28 million in 2021/22 compared to 6.08 million bags worth $559.16 million registered in 2020/21, data from the Uganda Coffee Development Authority shows.

An estimated 447,162. 60 kilogramme bags of coffee valued at $64.1 million were exported in November 2022 at an average price of $2.39 per kilogramme — 6 US cents lower than the average price of $2.45 per kilogramme posted in October 2022.

Original Source: Daily Monitor

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farm news

Over 40 goats die of PPR disease in Madi-Okollo



At least 43 goats have died of Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) disease, also known as ‘goat plague’ and several others are undergoing treatment in Madi-Okollo district.

Madi-Okollo district veterinary officer, Dr Charles Onzima, says the viral disease, which is related to rinderpest in sheep as well as goats, has claimed the lives of goats in Olali parish in Ogoko sub-county.

He adds that PPR disease was confirmed in the district after 500 local and 94 Boer goats were supplied to families in Olali parish under a poverty eradication programme that he suspects infected the local goats.

43 of the boar goats died while 10 of the local goats of the communities also died of PPR disease.

Onzima says immediately after receiving information about the disease, the veterinary officers got the goats manifesting the signs of PPR that include sudden onset of depression, fever, discharge from the eyes and nose, sores in the mouth, breathing difficulty and death among others.

He says that they have already had three rounds of vaccination for the available goats in the affected area.

Original Source: New Vision Via

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Artisanal gold miners defy government on mercury use



In October, President Museveni signed into the law the Mining and Minerals Act 2022. One of the key provisions in the law is the banning of mercury use in mining activities.

Artisanal and small scale gold miners in Uganda use mercury to separate gold from the ores, a method they say is cost effective, fast and easy to use. During this process, mercury is mixed with gold containing materials to form a mercury gold amalgam which is then heated to obtain the gold from the sediments.

The miners do the processing without wearing any personal protective gear. However, different Non- Government and Civil Society Organizations have over the years warned these miners against using mercury as it poses serious health threats to human life and dangerous to the environment.

But even with the government banning the use of mercury and several warning about the dangers it imposes, gold miners are not yet ready to stop using the substance especially since the government is not providing any viable alternative method they can use.

In Tiira mining site, Tiira town council, Busia district, gold miners expressed their concerns on this ban. Stephen Engidhoh, the Eastern Uganda chairman of Uganda Association of Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (UGAASM) said that mining has created jobs for over 30,000 people in Busia alone and with the government ban on use of mercury, many of them are likely to remain jobless.

He noted that in every sub county in Busia district, there are people during the exploration of minerals but the large gold discoveries here should not be an excuse to eliminate the small-scale miners from the mining sector because these minerals belong to all of them and it where they make a living from.

He added that if government wants this directive to be implemented, it should enforce it gradually and after finding an alternative method the miners can use.

“Government should first sensitize the miners about the dangers of using mercury before eliminating it. By government coming to abruptly ban the use of mercury, it is already creating indirect employment for smugglers to smuggle it into the country than they think they are eliminating,” Engidoh said.

Paul Angesu, the chairman on Tiira Landlords and Artisanal Miners Association said that even though they have been told that mercury is dangerous, for all the years they have used, they have never seen anyone experiencing the danger they say it causes.

“The government still needs to carry out thorough investigations on the possible dangers of using mercury so that it presents to the local miners with practical evidence that indeed mercury is dangerous and this will make us to easily stop using it,” Angesu said.

He added that sometime back, the Uganda National Association of Community and Occupational Health (UNACOH) came and took samples of mercury from the miners but they were not able to submit in the feedback for them to know if indeed they are indeed being affected by mercury.

An alternative gold extraction method which has been suggested to the artisanal gold miners is the use of borax method’ a technique of artisanal gold mining which use borax (a chemical compound) as a flux to purify gold. However, the miners say the government has not taken the initiative of introducing this method to them and training them on how to use it.

“They want us to use borax as an alternative to mercury but most of us don’t even know how borax looks like or even how it works. How do they expect us to start using something they have never taken the initiative to introduce to us?” Angesu asked.

Ramadhan Birenge, a gold miner in Namayingo district has tried using borax before after an NGO brought a sample of it to them. He however said that there is no any another way a miner can use to get gold clearly and quickly other than using mercury.

“The borax they are telling us to use is very expensive and not easily accessible to us, we don’t even know where it is sold and to get gold through using borax is a very long process yet mercury is a very easy, shorter process and relatively cheap.”

John Bosco Bukya, the chairman of Uganda Artisanal Miners Association told The Observer that they are law abiding citizens and since they have tested the consequences of operating in irregularities, they have no big problem with banning of mercury use in mining areas.

But however, before government bans it, it should provide the miners with an alternative processing reagent. He noted that government may not succeed with the ban and not because the miners don’t want to stop using mercury, but because the available alternatives must be effective, efficient and affordable.

“We don’t know anything about the borax method which they say can be an alternative. We don’t know where it is manufactured from, neither its cost or effectiveness. Government should first train the miners of an alternative method, test its effectiveness and efficiency before banning the method currently being used. If it is more efficient, definitely miners will stop using mercury,” Bukya said.

He also advised government to first sensitize these miners about the dangers of mercury before enforcing it and then phase it out gradually and not immediately because it is going to affect the livelihoods of Ugandans who are in this sector and yet it is the responsibility of government to make sure that all Ugandans thrive in their businesses.

Mercury is smuggled into Uganda through the porous borders with Kenya by cartels which makes its trade illegal. It is then discreetly sold to artisanal miners in Busia with a Kg costing between Shs 600,000 to Shs 1 million.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), exposure to mercury, even small amounts may have toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes as well as pose a threat to the development of the child in the womb for pregnant women.

Most of these ailments manifest over time. People who burn the gold usually take in large doses of mercury because they directly inhale the metals but those who may get it after eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with mercury take it in slowly and it accumulates over time.

Mercury also contaminates the soil making it infertile and unable to support agriculture, water and air. Mercury emitted to the air can also circulate around and contaminate water, fish and wildlife far from the mine from which it was released which affects the biodiversity.

Original Source: The Observer

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