The Africa, Caribbean, Pacific - European Union (ACP-EU) Joint Parliamentary Assembly sitting in Maputo City, Mozambique on Wednesday voted to let Uganda proceed with developing the much sought-after East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project (EACOP).
The ACP-EU resolution now waters down an earlier stance by the European Parliament that had expressed “grave concern” around alleged human rights violations in Uganda and Tanzania, linked to the Lake Albert project.
The plan covers upstream investments at Tilenga and Kingfisher, with the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) running to the Tanzanian port of Tanga.
The CPA-EU Assembly, which brings together an equal number of elected MPs from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states and Members of the European Parliament, made changes to “Operative Clause 5” of its Resolution on the Global Challenges of Climate Change Cooperation for Adaptation and Migration.
The Resolution was passed ahead of the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference scheduled for November 18 in Egypt and initially called for a ban on all new oil exploration projects.
It read in part, “…achieving the 1.5 ° C target, requires that no new oil gases fields be approved, nor any new coal mine or extensions to existing ones.”
However, Uganda's Tayebwa led efforts in which he convinced member states to make changes in the resolution, to allow a global “just transition” to renewable energy
The parliament in the new amendment as such “acknowledged the importance of fair phase out and gradual transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, stressing that achieving the 1.5 ° C target requires the drastic scaling up of renewable energy and supporting a global just transition.”
Tayebwa said, while announcing the good news today, that the Ugandan MPs “burnt the midnight candle” lobbying for the amendment.
The amendment, Tayebwa says was tabled on the floor on Wednesday by Tanzanian Deputy Speaker Musa Azzan Zungu and Edmund Hinkson of Barbados.
Tayebwa described the vote as a “big win for EACOP”.
It comes nearly two months after the European Union Parliament passed a resolution on “violations of human rights in Uganda and Tanzania linked to investments in fossil fuels projects” in which they called for the suspension of the pipeline project in Uganda and Tanzania.
The EU decision was widely condemned by Uganda and Tanzania as “imperialists” and unfounded.
Construction of EACOP may lead to the displacement of 100,000 people, it said, “without proper guarantees of adequate compensation”. Payments to farmers are too low for them to buy comparable land to continue, the European Parliament said.
TotalEnergies, the architect of the project had also rejected complaints about Lake Albert and its environmental impact.
The project is essential, it said, because of the world’s ongoing need for hydrocarbons.
TotalEnergies' partner on the project, CNOOC Uganda, also defended the project.
The first rig for the work arrived at Mombasa port last month.
“We are committed to delivering first oil to Uganda and there’s no turning back,” the Chinese company said.
Tayebwa, revealed that the Ugandan MPs held a fruitful engagement with EU MPs on issues of climate change and also registered "our disappointment with their recent unilateral resolution on EACOP”
Malte Lenz Gallée, a
Member of the European Parliament who was also part of a four-member EU Parliamentarians team that visited Uganda at the end of July 2022 on a fact-finding mission accepted the outcome of the ACP-EU vote.
"The amendment by Barbados and Tanzania was carried and now we have a less resolution addressing the needs of the future generations. We lost it," said Gallée who fights for climate protection and for a sustainable industry.
In mid September, the soft-spoken Tayebwa had sounded bitter against the EU saying it amounts to “economic racism” for the Europeans who have openly contributed to high carbon emissions to be the ones seeking to block the development of the oil and gas sector in sovereign states Uganda and Tanzania.
“The resolution is based on misinformation and deliberate misrepresentation of key facts on environment and human rights protection. It represents the highest level of neo-colonialism and imperialism against the sovereignty of Uganda and Tanzania,” Tayebwa charged.
He said that like many African countries, Uganda is a developing nation with unique development needs and priorities hence asking for the withdrawal of the motion because its ideals are against the UN Charter that gives independent nations a right to self-determination and sovereignty over their natural resources.
Deputy Speaker, Tayebwa and Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka responses excited President Museveni who praised them for the job well done in defending the country’s economic interests by lambasting the EU Parliament’s resolution.
“The remarks of the Deputy Speaker and the Attorney General in one of the dailies concerning the EU Parliament and EACOP interested me in making some comments of reassurance to our people,” said the President.
He added that; “Either way, we shall have our oil coming out by 2025 as planned. So, the people of Uganda should not worry”.
Reiterating Parliament’s support to ensuring that Uganda’s oil begins to flow by 2025 when the EACOP and the oil refinery are set to be complete, Tayebwa hailed the President for giving his thumbs-up to the decision he took to condemn the EU Parliament’s resolution.
“Thank you for your reassurance Mr President. Count on our continued support of your efforts to deliver Uganda’s oil by the year 2025” he tweeted on Saturday morning.
The President a renowned pillar for Pan-Africanism who has always attacked the western world’s neocolonialism ideas said in a widely viewed Tweet that if French oil multinational, Total Energies succumbed to EU Parliament pressure, Uganda and Tanzania will find another financier for the pipeline project.
“We should remember that Total Energies convinced me about the Pipeline idea; if they choose to listen to the EU Parliament, we shall find someone else to work with,” the President said.
The EACOP measuring 1,443km will transport crude oil from Kabaale in Hoima District in Uganda to the Chongoleani Peninsula near Tanga port in Tanzania before it’s shipped for refining abroad.