Acholi leaders task govt on mineral transparency 

Energy Minister Ruth Nankabirwa (centre) and State Minister for Northern Uganda Kenneth Omona (left) during a stakeholder engagement in Gulu City on April 16, 2024. PHOTO | REGAN OCAYA 

What you need to know:

  • This comes as the government undertakes exploration and development of oil and gas, as well as graphite and uranium in the sub-region.

Leaders from Acholi Sub-region have tasked the government to present them with the details of all mineral discoveries in the area and the extraction protocol.

The leaders say this will lead to public support and confidence in the mining process.

The leaders were reacting during a stakeholder engagement on minerals, oil, and gas in Acholi organised by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development in Gulu City on Tuesday.

Prof Morris Ogenga Latigo, the former chairperson of the Acholi Technical Working Committee on Oil, said the controversy has surrounded the recent discoveries of graphite and uranium in the sub-region due to poor communication by the government.

He added that the communities where the minerals have been discovered have very limited knowledge about the projects.

“This is because the so-called investors are not open and transparent to the community in most of their work,” Prof Latigo said. He said this means there is no sense of ownership of the project by the local community. 

“They (communities and leaders) have a very strong desire to cooperate, but they are being excluded,” he said.

Mr John Amos Okot, the Agago North MP and secretary general of the Acholi Parliamentary Group, faulted the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development for concealing information about minerals and that there was a lot of tension regarding non-compensation for the project-affected person.

“We want affirmative action to be put in place where this oil and gas are found so that compensation for people affected by the project is done in time and that during the time for employment, the local people are considered first,” Mr Okot said.

Sheikh Musa Khalil, the Northern Region deputy mufti, said unless the government comes in to conduct sensitisation, it will be difficult for the people to embrace the mineral extraction projects.

“In response, Ms Ruth Nankabirwa, the Energy minister, explained that certain information about discovered minerals is kept away from people for fear that some speculators and opportunists may go to those areas to buy land cheaply and wait for compensation.

“If we are to display maps of minerals in Acholi land, people from all parts will run to buy land to wait and deal with the investors themselves,” Ms Nankabirwa said.

Besides the oil and gas, and graphite exploration in the region, the government during a recent airborne geophysical mapping discovered new uranium deposits for exploration in Namokora, Ogili, and Wol (Pader-Agago Basin) in Kitgum.