The government would have committed a blunder if it adopts Norway’s experience in managing Uganda’s oil and gas sector. According to experts, the government must follow history from which it can draw experiences that will help shape a model to drive the oil and gas sector forward, rather than trying too hard to replicate models from other countries.
“For continuity, you must understand your history,” Mr Petter Nore, the director for economic development, energy, governance, and gender at the Norwegian Agency for Development Corporation (NORAD) said in a presentation last week during an oil conference in Kampala.
He said: “There is no model for oil development because every country has its own experience and historic starting point. For our case (Norway) especially in 1970s we made a lot of mistakes, and it was these mistakes and not the model that made us think of an Oil Fund.”
Mr Ezra Suruma the former Minister of Finance and an astute economist argued in the same conference that not enough has been done to guarantee that the sector will lift the economy of the country once the taps start flowing.
In addition to instability that oil could cause if not well managed, Mr Suruma who is also the Senior Presidential advisor on Finance and Economic Planning, said rampant unemployment, poverty and income insecurity undermine future economic and political stability.
In response, the Commissioner, Petroleum Exploration and Production department, Ministry of Energy, Ernest Rubondo agreed that the issues raised by Mr Suruma are a threat but he disagreed with Mr Nore, stressing that Uganda is not trying to replicate any model but learning from the various models to avoid repeating similar mistakes.
“We know where we came from, and we know where we are and we know where we want to be,” said Mr Rubondo.
In his Presentation, Mr Nore also pointed out the importance of political stability, arguing that Norway has managed to maintain that (political stability) for about 100 years.