KAMPALA —Angrier politically motivated responses against the European Parliament resolution over the execution of the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project, will not deliver desired results. Economists warn.
This comes shortly after Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni hit back, saying the multibillion project will be delivered timely as planned with or without Total Energies, a partner in the EACOP execution.
“I want to assure you that the project shall proceed as stipulated in the contract we have with Total Energies and CNOOC,” reads one of his twits
President Museveni recalled saying it was the French based Oil giant (Total Energies) that had convinced him about the pipeline idea; and that if the company pulls out then Uganda will find someone else to work with. The president added: “Either way, we shall have our oil coming out by 2025 as planned. So, the people of Uganda should not worry.” Speaking exclusively to The Citizen, Prof Haji Semboja of State University of Zanzibar (Suza) said all governments (globally) will be out to co-operate to international standards when implementing big projects similar to the construction of the pipeline.
“Before you commence the construction of a major project, environmental assessment should be carried out thus helping to tackle social and environmental impacts associated with the execution of the planned project,” noted Prof Semboja.
For the university don, the EU Parliament resolution ought to be observed, adding: “You should do as the world wants as far as protecting the environment and respecting human rights.”
Prof Semboja was of the view that the EU legislature wants to see the project is in line with human rights but also in line with the environment impact assessment and that both countries (Tanzania and Uganda) should produce them.
“Uganda and Tanzania need to respond to the EU concerns, they need to answer all stipulated matters that have been raised, in my opinion; this shouldn’t be politically motivated, we are part of the world so we shouldn’t misbehave,” the economist said.
According to him, as Tanzania did on the Loliondo issue with vivid evidence produced to the international community, the same should be done with the pipeline project and that Tanzania and Uganda should not take the matter as a contempt to their sovereignty.
“If within a country, when private firms seek to put up a certain project, the law requires them to conduct an environment assessment toward the planned project, Tanzania and Uganda need to do the same as this is what the international laws require,” he noted.
But a senior lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam (Udsm), Dr Abel Kinyondo, explained that the EU move is instigated by two factors, of which one; is related to human rights and environmental activists and the second is due to global economic rivalry.
“The ongoing Russian-Ukraine conflict has triggered some plans to reduce the EU’s energy dependence on Russia, the whole of Europe has lots of pipelines and they are thinking of constructing new ones, so for me, this is typical economic warfare,” Dr Kinyondo observed.
He added that: “There is not any negative economic argument against the EACOP project, Total is a reputable company and will not execute a project that would tarnish their image, in fact; these obstacles always emerge when having such a project, people will question whether environmental assessment has been made.”
According to him, similar issues raised by the EU Parliament are inevitable to such similar projects globally and what is needed is to have negotiations that will help reduce or eliminate such impacts.
“What they are saying isn’t a lie, but the problem is the motive behind; they got an agenda, lets talk and see where the project has missed and then rectify it, this isn’t new, and we are not the first, similar project globally have come under huge scrutiny, so we need to have a due diligent plan in response to the environment and human right,” he said.
Dr Kinyondo who most recently worked as a principal research fellow at REPOA, added: “Uganda and Tanzania are not islands, the issue is having mitigation factors that will answer to the said resolution.”
For his part, Dr Ellinami Minja, Senior Lecturer at Udsm, was of the view that each natural resource in a given country belongs to that country and that the same has the final decision on how the said resources will be used.
Moreover, he said: “Our challenge as African nations is the fact that we don’t have the required capacity to turn the said resources into finished goods, so we need partners. These international companies, such as Total Energies, get money from financial institutions so they can invest where there is no return.”