Monday January 27 2014

Proper oil management key for our economy

By Wahab Kassim

The oil industry is a unique industry because it can, with proper management, sustain any economy to the fullest. Products that can be attained from oil are enormous. The way we live, work and travel all depend on oil. Every economy in the world survives significantly on oil; that is why all nations pursue relentless endeavours geared towards energy security.

States with big reserves such as Norway, Saudi Arabia, Ghana and others have mastered the art of survival in the industry; they have had a successful journey because they planned for the present and the future. They created self sustaining policies, legal regimes and institutions for the industry.
Norway, for instance, put in place clear policies that the country has greatly benefitted from. That is why oil has sustained Norway’s economy steadily. Issues of political meddling, corruption and outright theft are dealt with firmly. That is why industrial analysts have detached the Dutch Disease and the oil curse from Norway.

As Ugandans, we must ensure that petroleum activities don’t affect the environment. Petroleum activities tend to be destructive. Oil spills have been experienced in the Niger Delta. Communities have been adversely affected and soils degraded. Consequently, farming is affected.

In a country like Uganda where majority of the population depends on agriculture and more so because every citizen cannot be accommodated in the nascent petroleum industry, it is important that we protect the environment.

The future of Uganda’s economy can only be secured if priorities are set right. In fact, having all the best laws and policies is not enough; these policies and regulations have to be implemented.

Being a unique industry, states should empower local communities to take part in the development of the oil industry. Norway managed to enrich its workforce with the necessary skills by involving various stakeholders; that is why the country has many professionals in the industry.

In African society, if a child is not nurtured at an early stage, do not expect success in the future. This applies to the petroleum industry; let us give it a good foundation today to reap the benefits in future.