SAYS THREATS POSED BY CLIMATE CHANGE ARE REAL, BUT MEASURES TO PROTECT THE ENVIROMENT MUST CONFORM WITH THE PRINCIPLE OF EQUITY
President Yoweri Museveni says the East African Community [EAC] is aware of a global push for energy transition, which seeks to move away from the use of fossil fuels to Renewable Energy.
He however, says whereas the region fully recognizes the threats posed by climate change, measures aimed at mitigating such threats to protect the environment must be fair, taking into account the principle of equity and respective capabilities in light of different national circumstances.
“We believe that if the developed countries want to, they can develop and commercialize technologies that will make fossil fuels good for use. I would like to emphasize that for the East Africa region and Africa in general, we do recognize that the threats posed by climate change are real and we support measures aimed at protecting the
Environment” the president says adding that ‘But such measures must conform with the “principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances”
The president referred to the Paris Climate Agreement as this principle was key in assuaging the fears of developing countries, especially oil and gas producing countries, in the early years of the climate negotiation process.
The president made the remarks in a speech read for him by Vice President Maj. Jessica Alupo who officiated at the opening of the 10th East African Petroleum Conference and Exhibition 2023 at Serena Hotel.
Museveni noted that the push for energy transition is coming at a time when the EAC region has established significant petroleum that can greatly contribute to the economies of the region.
He said in order to utilize these resources and those that may be discovered in the future, the EAC came together and developed a strategy on regional refineries development in 2008.
The strategy; Museveni said, addresses development of refineries and other infrastructure required to enhance storage and distribution of petroleum products in the region.
“This strategy identified the need for a refinery in Uganda upon confirmation of the commercial reserves of the oil discoveries. The Government of Uganda is now progressing the development of the refinery” he said.
The president welcomed the Conference and Exhibition, saying it is one way of promoting the petroleum potential and investment opportunities in the oil and gas sector in East Africa.
He noted that such conferences provide awareness of the potential for
petroleum exploration, development and production, and an opportunity to dialogue between oil and gas industry and governments of EAC. Museveni said the EAC partner states will use this opportunity to demonstrate to the world the potential that lies within the Region, sharing information on the status of the sector in each partner state including the policy, legal and regulatory framework, and the overall business environment prevailing in the region.
ENTER ENERGY SECTOR
The president said that under energy, the region has what referred to as important projects and programmes that are being pursued collectively. In the power sub sector, Gen. Museveni said that EAC members are developing a regional power master plan that will identify
Generation and Transmission needs to satisfy the region’s electricity demand for the next 25 years.
“To address this need, the region plans to develop both the local resources and also to interconnect with countries outside East Africa. The EAC partner states are making major investments in the power sector and creating robust institutional arrangements to avoid the mistakes of the past when we suffered serious power shortfalls” he said.
The president revealed that in Uganda for example, the country is pursuing an aggressive programme to develop nearly 52,000megawatts of hydro power by 2040, while in Kenya they are pursuing a program in development of geothermal resource of power generation and Tanzania increasing her power generation from natural gas. Other member countries like Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan according to the president equally have plans to continue generation power from a diverse energy mix.
“Major electricity projects to interconnect all the east African countries are going on and we expect to have a fully interconnected East African power network. In addition, efforts to interconnect with other regions are being pursued notably to the North through the Ethiopia-Kenya interconnection between Tanzania and Zambia” the president said.
Museveni also noted that in addition to the development of mainstream power generation resources, promotion of renewable energy is equally important. He said the region for example has programmes on wind, solar and sustainable biomass for grid and off grid systems. He said these renewable resources have the potential of being small scale for isolated off grid communities.
Museveni also revealed that the EAC will develop a common energy policy and back it with a protocol that will define the regional framework to support the development of the energy sector.
He noted that such achievements have come up with opportunities for investment in the oil and gas sector in East Africa and therefore urged local and international companies to take advantage of these opportunities.
“Currently, there are only 37 international oil and gas companies licensed to carry out petroleum prospecting in the region. In addition to oil and gas prospecting, there are investment opportunities in the mid-stream and downstream sub sectors. These include infrastructure projects and processing facilities necessary to support the industry” he said.
Museveni said in Uganda, development of EACOP and Upstream projects is on course and Refinery Project is also taking shape, adding that under the East African Community, members are also taking steps towards continually improving the business environment by addressing policy, security, legal, and regulatory frameworks in all sectors.
“In fact, this conference is taking place at time when the integration process for the EAC partner states has gained momentum. Our integration programme has four key milestones: Customs union,
Common market, Monetary union and Political federations. These four pillars of integration are the pivot around which integration in all sectors within East Africa is taking place. I assure you that the political leadership in east Africa is fully committed to the full integration of east Africa” he said adding that the region has already achieved the customs union and common market.
The president also noted that the oil and gas sector requires the development of the other enabling infrastructure in order to attract more investments in this sector.
As such; the president said, an extensive road network improvement and expansion plan is in place under the East African transport strategy and road sector development program. He said as a region, they plan to implement the East African Railways master plan that will see the introduction of a standard gauge rail network in the region.