Tuesday September 2 2014

Involve youth in oil sector development

By Diana Taremwa

After waiting for years in vain to be relocated from Kabale Parish to pave way for the oil refinery, Innocent Tumwebaze and other youth resolved to form a local pressure group, Proposed Oil Refinery Residents Association .

This pressure group has been working in partnership with Africa Institute for Energy Governance, to highlight the plight of the refinery affected people, who have been unfairly compensated, haven’t been relocated and are under the mercy of the ferocious refinery developers.
Tumwebaze is a model for many youth, and is an epitome of courage and resilience in the struggle to ensure that the newly discovered oil wealth enhances the betterment of people’s socio-economic well-being rather than condemning them to perpetual suffering.

Recently, 200 families were violently evicted from their land in Rwamutonga village, Bugambe Sub-County, Hoima District to pave way for a waste treatment plant. Houses were broken down and burnt to ashes, clothes set on fire and property destroyed.

The youth who constitute more than 80 per cent of Uganda’s population and, therefore, the majority in every society, should stand up, champion for good governance in the fledging oil and gas sector.

Youth should be the voice for these disadvantaged communities that continue to be affected by oil development projects.

As the oil sector progresses, into the development and commercialisation phase, communities in the oil region will suffer more displacements from oil investments and infrastructure.

One does not need to belabour the point that the youth in the oil region , if given the required support can contribute meaningfully to the governance of oil, however, bringing these youths on board the oil development wagon becomes the responsibility of those in authority.

There should be strategic mechanisms by government, civil society organisations aimed at bringing the youth at the forefront of strengthening policies on oil governance. Oil as a finite resource, which is likely to be exhausted in three decades, the youth who hold the future of this nation need to be empowered to meaningfully participate in the sector, advocate for transparency so to as safeguard their own future as well as that of the generations to come.

And only then will their dream of the oil sector delivering the much needed jobs become a reality.

Diana Taremwa,