By Nasser Kasozi Akandwanaho
DAR ES SALAAM: President Yoweri Museveni has cautioned the region not to be intoxicated with petroleum as this is an exhaustible resource but urged stakeholders to use it to build the infinite resources in the four sectors that drive jobs and wealth creation including commercial agriculture, industrialization, services including tourism, banking, entertainment and Information Communication Technology (ICT) the new software.
“People always demand for social services including health, education etc but how do you sustain services without production of wealth and jobs,” he said.
The President said they need to have infrastructure development such as roads, railway, electricity for both physical and social energy including a large market that can consume in bulk to create wealth and jobs and the oil pipeline is part of this infrastructure.
“We are starting to agree on the direction. We don’t have poverty but we have lack of direction. In the 1960s in college, we wanted education, now people are educated but no industries. This pipeline is part of that infrastructure. There is a bit of money in this project, if we get this money and do something durable, by the time the oil is finished, we shall be at a different level of development,” he said.
The President was speaking shortly after witnessing the signing of the Host Government Agreement between the government of Tanzania and the oil companies going to undertake the construction of the oil pipeline from the oil fields in Hoima in Uganda to the Indian sea port of Tanga in Tanzania.
Museveni described the signing of the Host Government Agreement between the government of Tanzania and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project (EACOP) for the construction of the oil pipe line as a historic event and a very important regional project that will not only benefit Uganda and Tanzania but will also in the long run serve countries in the Great Lakes region.
“The pipeline is a very important regional project, Tanzania and Mozambique you have gas and the corridor can be used to take another pipeline for gas to help countries in the great lakes region with the resource. What we are doing here today is really historic. I congratulate the government of Tanzania and President Samia Suluhu for this achievement,” he said.
The ceremony that took place at State House in Dar-es Salaam- was also witnessed by the host President Samia Suluhu Hassan, the President of Total Exploration and Production Africa Mr. Nocholas Terazz and representatives of Total, Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC), Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) and those of China National Offshore Oil Corporation ((CNOO) among others.
The signing of the HG Agreement follows a similar one signed in State House Entebbe in Uganda on the 11th of April 2021 and establishes the legal and commercial frame work for EACOP to be financed, constructed and operated. EACOP will unlock the East African potential by attracting investors to explore opportunities in the region.
Museveni expressed his gratitude to all those participating in the project cautioning the people of Uganda and Tanzania not to get very excited about the oil revenues and forget other sectors that generate wealth. He stressed that the oil revenue will only be used for building durable sectors, as the resource is exhaustible.
He reminded them not to forget the sectors of first and fore most commercial agriculture, industry, services and ICT.
“Petroleum is an exhaustible resource, agriculture, tourism and those 4 sectors are continuous. We are going to use the resources from oil to build durable sectors and by the time the oil gets finished it will get us at a certain level,” he noted.
He also commended the Ugandan scientists who discovered the oil adding that he was very happy for this achievement and making a new step.
“I am very happy to see this. Mwalimu Nyerere, wherever he is must be very happy because this is what we were talking about all the time. This pipeline is a very important regional infrastructure project,” he said.
Welcoming her guests to Tanzania, Suluhu thanked Museveni for gracing the function adding that the ratification of the 5 agreements with the oil companies for the project confirmed the determination of the two countries Tanzania and Uganda in seeing the implementation of the project.
“We will cherish and enhance the good cooperation that has existed between our two countries,” she said.
Suluhu also paid tribute to the late President Magufuli for working very closely with Museveni to make the project a reality. She expressed her commitment to ensure the success of the project that will see the first flow of oil realized in 2025.
It will also generate a lot of benefits like employment, services and other side projects along the corridor of the pipe line as well as attract investments to the region.
The Tanzanian leader observed that the image of Africa had been tarnished for a long time in the eyes of the world but such projects will positively help to clear that bad image.
She thanked Museveni for gracing the occasion despite the devastating COVID-19 pandemic that is a challenge to the world noting that the President was not a stranger in Tanzania but one of them because he had lived and had some of his children in Tanzania.
A communiqué was issued and read by the Tanzanian Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Community Hon. Ambassador Liberata Mulamula.
In the communiqué, the two countries apart from reaffirming their commitment to deepen bilateral ties in other areas of mutual interest like trade, infrastructure, transport, social Affairs and the East African Cooperation, urged each State to take all the necessary steps required to provide unequivocal support and commitment to realizing and implementing the strategic East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project. The two Heads of State in conclusion to the event launched the project activities.
Other speakers included the representatives of the oil companies going to undertake the construction of the pipe line who all reaffirmed their commitment to implement the project.
The Uganda delegation included the Minister of Finance Planning and Economic Development Hon. Matia Kasaija, the Minister of Energy Hon Goretti Kitutu and the representative of UNOC.
President Museveni and his delegation was later hosted to a State luncheon by President Samia Siluhu at State House Grounds.