Hydrocarbon Investments Transforming Uganda’s Economy

An oil pump is seen in an oil exploration site in Bulisa district approximately 244km (152 miles) North-West of Kampala January 20, 2012. Uganda said on January 27, 2012 the proposed sale of stakes by UK-based explorer Tullow Oil in its fields in the east African country to France’s Total and China’s CNOOC had been delayed by disagreements over protective clauses. Picture taken January 20, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

In Uganda, the new oil and gas development is set to provide a $40 billion boost to the country’s economy over the next 25 years. This significant economic event, which has the potential to uplift millions from poverty and transform the nation’s prospects, should be celebrated as a remarkable achievement. However, it appears that this transformative development is not receiving the recognition it deserves.

Western nations and various NGOs have at times downplayed or even opposed this project, despite their own ongoing investments in fossil fuel extraction. This kind of condescension and interference in African affairs is not new, as some elements in the West have historically imposed their opinions on African nations. Unfortunately, it seems that this attitude persists.

From my vantage point in Cape Town, South Africa, I can’t help but notice the hypocrisy of Western arguments against African energy projects. It’s akin to the justifications used to defend apartheid in Africa, and it’s disheartening to witness.

Last week, African Energy Week was hosted in Cape Town, emphasizing the importance of granting Africans the opportunity to achieve economic development and realize their ambitions without external interference. In Uganda, the new oil and gas development will infuse $40 billion into the economy over the next 25 years. This year alone, significant investments are being made, infrastructure is being upgraded, and educational institutions are being accredited to train a skilled workforce. Local businesses are benefiting from this project, further enhancing the local economy.

The transformative impact is undeniable. With the annual wage in Uganda at around $1,000, the development is bringing about generational change. Before the first oil production in 2025, it’s estimated that Uganda’s GDP will increase by $8.6 billion, creating over 160,000 jobs across the country. The majority of these jobs are going to Ugandans, with a significant portion benefiting communities around the extraction sites.

The East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), set to be the world’s longest solar-heated pipeline, will allow millions of East Africans to transition from wood to cleaner natural gas, significantly reducing deforestation.

The theme of African Energy Week, “The African Energy Renaissance,” perfectly encapsulates what is happening in Uganda and many parts of our continent. This oil and gas development is propelling Uganda from a low-income agrarian economy to a modern, diversified one, providing a better future for its people. We should disregard the naysayers and take pride in our efforts to improve livelihoods and secure our continent’s progress. The time when the West dictates what Africans should do must come to an end.

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