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Government and ISPs dragged to court over Internet shut down

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By the Witness radio team

Unwanted Witness-Uganda, a digital rights non-government organization,
has sued the Government through the attorney General and the Internet
Service Providers (ISPs) over the blocking and shutting down of social
media in February and May 2016.

Government through the telecom regulator the Uganda Communications
Commission (UCC) directed all the operating telecom companies to block
all social media platforms and mobile money services during the February
general elections and the presidential inaugural ceremony of May.

Through its lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, the Unwanted Witness-Uganda
however, contends the shutdowns were not only illegal but also a
violation of the right to freedom of speech thus filing an application
in the high court seeking for numerous orders.

The respondents in this matter are ten including; the attorney General,
Uganda Communications Commission, MTN (U), Airtel (U), Smile
Communications (U), Vodafone (U), Africell (U), Smart Telecom (U),
Uganda Telecom (U) and K2 telecom (U).

“The shutting down of social media by respondents during the
presidential, parliamentary and local council elections in February 2016
violated the rights of Ugandan citizens and residents to the freedom of
speech and expression which is guaranteed under article 29 (1) (a) of
the constitution of Uganda; article 9 of the African Charter on Human
and People’s rights; article 19(2) of the International Covenant on
civil and political rights; and article 19 of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights,” the Unwanted Witness’ applications states in part.

The application whose grounds were based on an affidavit swore by
Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala, the Chief Executive Officer, Unwanted
Witness also says that the blocking and shutting down by the 2nd, 3rd,
7th and 9th respondents of “mobile money transfer services” during the
general elections “violated the rights of Ugandan citizens under article
20 (2), 40 (2), 45 of the constitution; article 14 of the African
Charter on Human and people’s rights; articles 6,11 of the International
Covenant on economic, Social and Cultural rights and articles 23, 25 of
the Universal declaration of Human rights.”

The applicant avers that the shutting down of social media by the
respondents violated the right of citizens to the “freedom of speech and
expression” which is guaranteed under article 29 (1) (a) of the
constitution of Uganda, article 19 (2) of the international covenant on
civil and political rights and article 19 of the universal declaration
of human rights”

The applicant therefore seeks two court orders; “a permanent injunction
to be issued against the respondents and costs of the cause to be paid
by the respondents.”

The Court will sit on February 3 2017 to allow the applicant’s counsel
time to elaborate on the said issues in contention.

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Special Projects

Coalition for Rainforest Nations announces sale of 6,106 REDD credits from Papua New Guinea to Blackstone Energy Services

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On 29 March 2021, REDD-Monitor wrote about a REDD deal that Kevin Conrad, the Executive Director of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, signed with Papua New Guinea. Conrad claims the deal will mark “the very first time that (carbon) credits that have been approved by the UNFCCC are being marketed to an open forum to our consumers”. Conrad’s REDD deal was signed on 17 March 2021.

The Papua New Guinea newspaper, the Post Courier reported Conrad as saying that,

“Once we get everything signed up we are going to do a transaction next week, probably just a small one, about US$10,000, just to show and announce that the system is up, and all consumers need to show a transaction to bring other people in.

“We have a company in Canada called the Blackstone Energy, who will be the first company to buy from PNG and their idea is just to get the game started.”

This is a top down REDD deal, with little or no transparency. No process of free, prior and informed consent was carried out before Conrad signed the REDD deal with Wera Mori, PNG’s Minister for Environment, Conservation and Climate Change, and Ruel Yamuna, Managing Director of the Climate Change Development Authority.

Where the money from the carbon credit sales will end up is far from clear. PNG has not yet produced a REDD benefit sharing agreement.

A two-year-old “new report”

On 30 March 2021, the Coalition for Rainforest Nations put out a press release under the headline, “Papua New Guinea Slows Rainforest Deforestation after a Decade, According to New UNFCCC Report”.

The “New UNFCCC Report” is a report published by Papua New Guinea’s Climate Change and Development Authority and submitted to the UNFCCC.

The Climate Change and Development Authority’s report is Papua New Guinea’s First Biennial Update Report to the UNFCCC. It is dated December 2018.

The Biennial Update Report states that PNG achieved REDD+ results in 2014 and 2015 of 9,003,314 tCO2e. But in both 2014 and 2015, PNG emitted almost 40 million tCO2e from deforestation and forest degradation. The country can only claim REDD+ results because PNG, with the help of the FAO, created a Forest Reference Level that increases every year. As long as PNG’s forest destruction remains under the Forest Reference Level, PNG can continue to destroy its forests and claim millions of carbon credits from “REDD+ results”.

Meanwhile, of course, governments have not yet completed negotiations at the UNFCCC on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Article 6 involves the rules about creating a new carbon trading mechanism.

On 9 April 2021, REDD-Monitor received the following message from Mark Grundy of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations:

Subject: [REDD-Monitor] Contact
Name: Mark Grundy
Email: mark@cfrn.org
Website: https://redd-monitor.org/
Comment: Dear Chris,

Please correct your article about Blackstone’s purchase of nationally-issued REDD+ forestry carbon credits. The transaction was for 6,100 credits

You can view the deal on CFRN.org

Best
Mark

Sure enough, a Coalition for Rainforest Nations press release dated 8 April 2021 announces that Blackstone Energy Services has bought 6,106 carbon credits from Papua New Guinea.

Here are the Coalition for Rainforest Nations’ two recent press releases (neither of which mentions the ongoing negotiations about Article 6 of the Paris Agreement):

News: Papua New Guinea Slows Rainforest Deforestation after a Decade, According to New UNFCCC Report

Nine million UNFCCC-verified, forestry carbon credits issued for sale by sovereign government.

March 30, 2021, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea’s rainforest conservation efforts successfully slowed the pace of deforestation in 2014-2015, after bringing annual deforestation levels down to an annual average of 0.5% over a thirteen-year period, according to a report published by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As a result of these efforts, UNFCCC verified 9 million metric tonnes (mt) of carbon reductions for this period. The results were posted on UNFCCC REDD+ Information Hub along with four other prerequisites to UNFCCC REDD+ verification:

  • National REDD+ Strategy
  • National Forest Reference Level
  • National Forest Monitoring System
  • Safeguards Information Summary.

Highlights:

  • Deforestation: Between 2000-2013, Papua New Guinea saw an average loss of 0.5% of its national rainforest annually or 197,000 hectares of forest. The highest annual deforestation figures came in 2013 with a loss of 39,676 hectares. Loss was primarily due to conversion of forests to croplands for both non-commercial agricultural needs of its population (63%) as well as commercial agriculture (30%).
  • Degradation of remaining rainforests, primarily for commercial logging was also a major concern. Peaking in 2012 with 240,000 hectares, government action led to steadily declining degradation from 2013 onwards. 2014 and 2015 showed a marked decline in deforestation in both drivers.
  • Reforestation and forest rehabilitation activities: Conversely, efforts to enhance forest cover through reforestation and forest rehabilitation activities were limited, despite ambitious goals set out within Papua New Guinea’s Vision 2050 to establish 800,000 hectares of forest plantation by the middle of this century.

“These results are a testament to over two decades of national action and leadership – and are a fitting and timely tribute to the late Sir Michael Somare who pioneered global rainforest conservation. The data from 2014-2015 clearly show that Papua New Guinea has now turned a corner in our battle to stop deforestation,” said, Ruel Yamuna, Managing Director of the Climate Change and Development Authority.

Papua New Guinea’s 9 million mt of carbon reductions will become the first nationally issued REDD+ forestry carbon credits to go on sale to corporations and consumers. This comes after a decade of international negotiation to establish Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+) as a global conservation mechanism under the Paris Agreement on climate change – which was achieved in 2015.

The REDD+ mechanism, the brainchild of late Sir Grand Chief Michael Somare – founding father of Papua New Guinea, was started by Papua New Guinea and the Coalition for Rainforest Nations in 2005 under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The government of Papua New Guinea intends to set up a national biodiversity and climate change trust fund to manage and distribute the wealth accumulated from the revenues of nationally issued REDD+ forest carbon credits and other grants and donations. This will be announced in PNG Parliament in April.

A signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) took place on Wednesday March 17 in Port Moresby between the government of Papua New Guinea and REDD.plus to permit the sale of the forest carbon credits. Wera Mori, Minister of the Environment, Conservation & Climate Change and Kevin Conrad, Chief Executive of REDD.plus signed the agreement.

“Today’s agreement constitutes a significant milestone for the REDD+ story and for Papua New Guinea. People and companies will be able to purchase forest carbon credits that reward a country’s successful conservation efforts as well as count towards the Paris Agreement and the global carbon budget,” said Kevin Conrad, Executive Director, Coalition for Rainforest Nations. “Buying nationally issued REDD+ forest carbon credits is a powerful way to support global efforts to tackle the climate emergency.”

While Papua New Guinea’s nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement in which targets for emissions reductions in the land use and forest sector have not been identified beyond 2015, mitigation actions from its national policies, Vision 2050 and the Medium-Term Development Strategy 2030 have been set out.

Papua New Guinea’s nationally issued REDD+ forestry carbon credits were made available for purchase today on REDD.plus registry – provided by IHS Markit and trading platform by CBL. REDD.plus is currently managed by not-for-profit, Coalition for Rainforest Nations.

About

Climate Change and Development Authority, Independent State of Papua New Guinea

The Climate Change Development Authority is mandated under the Climate Change (Management) Act 2015 with the responsibility to contribute toward global efforts in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, through low carbon development that fosters economic growth and social welfare for the people’s wellbeing and prosperity. It is based in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Learn more at PNG REDD+

Coalition for Rainforest Nations

The Coalition for Rainforest Nations is US 401c3 not-for-profit established by forested tropical countries to collaboratively reconcile forest stewardship with economic development. Its assists tropical governments, communities and peoples responsibly manage their rainforests. It is the architect of the REDD+ mechanism and is headquartered in New York.

REDD.plus

REDD.plus is the first digital platform enabling carbon neutrality under the Paris Agreement, and provided by IHS Markit and trading platform by CBL. It is a central registry and exchange for nationally issued carbon reductions or REDD+ Results Units from rainforest nations, certified by the United Nations. REDD.plus is owned and managed by the Coalition for Rainforest Nations.

 

News: Blackstone Energy Services Buys First Sovereign Government Issued REDD+ Forestry Carbon Credits to Save Papua New Guinea’s Rainforests

Toronto, Canada, April 8, 2021, 07.00pm

Blackstone Energy Services, Canada’s leading energy services company made the first commercial purchase of UNFCCC-verified, REDD+ forestry carbon credits or REDD+ Results Units (RRUs), issued by the sovereign government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) today. Blackstone’s pilot purchase of 6,106 metric tonnes of forestry carbon credits is intended to both offset its historical carbon footprint back to 2003, and its estimated emissions up until to and including 2030. Beyond this pilot purchase, Blackstone plans to offer sovereign government issued carbon credits from rainforest nations to its portfolio of North American clients with a collective annual energy spend over US$2.5 billion.

“The sale sets a precedent for corporations wishing to achieve net-zero targets from carbon reductions directly linked to country efforts under the Paris Agreement and the global carbon budget,” says Ryan Duffy, Chief Executive Officer, Blackstone Energy Services. “The fact that these carbon credits represent UNFCCC-verified emissions reductions from national conservation efforts which have happened– and not future promises – is important to us and our clients.”

Blackstone bought carbon reductions created by PNG’s tropical rainforests from a two-year period of impact. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) verified that Papua New Guinea’s government, its agencies and local communities had successfully slowed the pace of deforestation across its 113.8 million acres (about the area of California) of rainforests. The credits came from a tranche of 9,003,314 metric tonnes of carbon emissions reductions issued by the sovereign government two weeks ago. To achieve these results, the government introduced a series of domestic initiatives and policies over a 15-year period, and also satisfied the UNFCCC verification process by submitting: a national conservation (REDD+) strategy, a national online forest monitoring system, forest reference levels, and other safeguards.

With Papua New Guinea being the current Coalition for Rainforest Nations Chair, Honorable Wera Mori, Minister for Environment, Conservation and Climate Change, was pleased to witness the first commercial transaction of nationally issued REDD+ credits and thanked Blackstone Energy Services for taking the lead as a responsible corporate citizen:

“The world is currently facing a climate emergency and PNG is mitigating the effects of climate change through rainforests and REDD+. This is also captured in PNG’s revised National Determined Contributions that was submitted last year to the UNFCCC, including the National Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 13 Climate Action Roadmap (2020 – 2030),” says Minister Mori.

Unlike project-based REDD+ carbon credits, which have been available on the voluntary carbon markets for over a decade, Blackstone’s purchase marks the first commercial transaction of nationally issued REDD+ credits or REDD+ Results Units. The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) Mechanism, the brainchild of late Sir Grand Chief Michael Somare – founding father of Papua New Guinea, was started with the Coalition for Rainforest Nations (CfRN) in 2005 under the UNFCCC. It took a decade of international and domestic climate policy work as well as in-country capacity building and technical training to forestry commission teams across the world before the first carbon credits could become available today.

“This is a healthy milestone for the UNFCCC REDD+ mechanism. Both Blackstone’s purchase today and others in the pipeline offer encouraging early signs of corporate demand for this new carbon credit. We expect to see REDD+ Results Units playing a platinum role within both the compliance markets and as an Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcome (ITMOs), qualifying for international transfer of carbon reductions for countries under the Paris Agreement,” says Kevin Conrad, Executive Director, Coalition for Rainforest Nations.

Papua New Guinea’s REDD+ results were reported in a technical annex on REDD+ results to the biennial update reports and underwent technical analysis by UNFCCC. To view these reports and all UNFCCC requirements and safeguards, see Lima REDD+ Information Hub. Papua New Guinea’s REDD+ Results Units (RRUs) are available on REDD.plus platform, provided by Markit and trading platform by CBL. The government of Papua New Guinea intends to set up a national biodiversity and climate change trust fund to manage and distribute the funds accumulated from the revenues of nationally issued REDD+ forestry carbon credits and other grants and donations. This will be announced in PNG Parliament this month.

Blackstone Energy Services

Blackstone is an independent energy management firm that delivers purposeful change for clients by guiding large private and public-sector businesses on their journey to net-zero consumption. Their custom energy management solutions cover cost, consumption, and carbon improvements. With a client portfolio representing over 1 million tonnes of CO2e each year for scope 1 and 2 emissions, it is their vision to take all their clients to net zero by 2050. Blackstone is based in Toronto, Canada.

Contact: Darlene Remlinger, VP Communications: dremlinger@blackstoneenergy.com
Tel. 416-628-2828 ext. 101

Climate Change and Development Authority, Independent State of Papua New Guinea

The Papua New Guinea Climate Change Development Authority is mandated under the Climate Change (Management) Act 2015 with the responsibility to contribute toward global efforts in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions through low carbon development that fosters economic growth and social welfare for the people’s wellbeing and prosperity. It is based in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Learn more at PNG REDD+

Contact Mr. Ruel Yamuna, Managing Director: ryamuna959@gmail.com

Coalition for Rainforest Nations

The Coalition for Rainforest Nations is a US 401c3 not-for-profit established by forested tropical countries to collaboratively reconcile forest stewardship with economic development. Its assists tropical governments, communities, and peoples to responsibly manage their rainforests. It is the co-architect of the UNFCCC REDD+ mechanism and is headquartered in New York. REDD.plus is owned and managed by the Coalition for Rainforest Nations. It is the first digital platform enabling carbon neutrality under the Paris Agreement, and provided by Markit and trading platform by CBL. It is a central registry and exchange for nationally issued carbon reductions or REDD+ Results Units from rainforest nations, verified by the UNFCCC. REDD.plus is owned and managed by the Coalition for Rainforest Nations.

Original Source: REDD-Monitor

 

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Solar energy capacity to reach 200MW next year

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Kampala, Uganda. Xsabo Group says they plan to build another three projects, which will bring the number to five plants with a total installed capacity of 150 MW, worth a total investment of 735 Billion Shillings.

The company received funding for the Mubende project worth 63 Billion Shillings from the Uganda Development Bank and the DFCU Bank. 

Uganda will have a total installed capacity of 2000MW when the delayed opening of the Karuma hydropower project happens this year. It was due for commissioning last year by the constrictors, but Synohydro of China asked for an extension of the date saying the works were at 98% completion.

The government embarked on a more complex energy mix to improve stability of supply, involving Hydro, geothermal, thermal, solar and wind energy. 

Solar, one of the cleanest renewable sources is also considered the cheapest to maintain. 

However, according to Julius Wandera, the head of corporate affairs at the Electricity Regulatory Authority, solar energy is also unreliable as a major source because Uganda’s weather is unpredictable.  

When you are expecting a plant to give you 8 megawatts, a cloud comes and covers it, and you end up with no or less power,” he says. But he maintains that it is important to supplement the more reliable sources like thermal and hydro, despite the latter being more expensive.

According to studies at the Ministry of Energy, Uganda on average has enough sunshine to produce 5.1-kilowatt house per square meter.

Electricity demand is increasing at a rate of 8.2% annually, which translates to 125,000 new customers every year. Currently, four large solar power plants sell power to the national grid. 

These include the Bufulubi in Mayuge District, the Tororo Plant and the Soroti plant, all 10MW each, as well as the largest one, the 20MW Kabulasoke solar energy plant in Mpigi district, also owned by Xsabo Group.

A 50 MW Namugoga Solar Power Station, in Wakiso District, planned for constriction by Solar Energy for Africa and Naanovo Energy Inc will be the largest yet if finished later this year. Small solar applications are often used in rural electrification projects such as Solar Home Systems or solar water heating. 

The small off-grid systems come in handy because of some sparsely populated areas in Uganda where it would be less cost-effective to extend grid lines, according to the strategy.

For that, the government estimates that over 30% of the population is unlikely to be reached for the next several decades unless more investments are pout in small off-grid home systems.    According to the Uganda Solar Energy Association, over 30,000 solar or photovoltaic (PV) systems have already been installed in homes in rural areas.

The 10-year Rural Electrification Strategy ending 2022 indicates that off-grid connections are supposed to have grown by 135,500 connections, with 95% of them being solar. The off-grid connection numbers are supported by the growing number of supply and distribution companies that offer products on credit or hire-purchase, where a customer pays for as low as 500 Shillings per day.    

In 2013, the government awarded a contract to Ergon Solair, a Taiwanese-US venture to build a 500MW solar plant divided into two four parks of 125MW each.   It was supposed to be completed by 2016. It would be the largest solar plant in Africa and the world alongside the 500MW Noor Solar Complex in the Agadir district of Morocco.    

In February, the China Energy Engineering Corporation (CEEC) announced plans to build a 500MW solar power plant in Uganda in two phases.     The Electricity Regulatory Authority-ERA said they had not received any notification of that kind from the Chinese company.            

Xsabo is also implementing another project dubbed the Xsabo Lira Power Station or Xsabo Lira Solarline, a US$45 million, with a capacity to generate 50 MW.     This is a public-private partnership between Xsabo and Lira District Administration and is also expected to be completed by December 2022, completing a total investment by Xsabo of about 200 Million United States Dollars.  

Original Source: URN  via independent.co.ug

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Banks opt out of oil pipeline funding

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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 stopeacop.net website: https://www.stopeacop.net/banks-checklist. 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

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