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Since 2006, around 2 billion barrels of recoverable oil have been discovered in the Lake Albert area of Western Uganda, one of the most ecologically diverse regions on the planet. Read more

The country’s fledgling oil and mining industries could transform an economy in which millions live in dire poverty, but only if well managed. Unless deals are done in the open, and steps taken to protect local people and the environment, the promise of oil wealth could entrench corruption, fuel unrest and wreck Uganda’s unique natural habitats.

Oil extraction has yet to begin, and the mining sector is still in its infancy. So the Government of Uganda has a critical window of opportunity to put robust measures in place to balance the potential risks and rewards. Drawing on lessons from other resource-rich developing countries, Global Witness’s work has focused on highlighting social and environmental concerns, calling for greater transparency, and working closely with civil society to make legal recommendations for Uganda’s new oil laws and regulations

Our investigations have brought key information into the public domain. In September 2014, our report ‘A Good Deal Better?’ published two secret oil contracts signed by the Ugandan government and foreign oil companies. The report found that the government had secured better financial terms than in previous contracts, but raised urgent concerns about a lack of social and environmental safeguards and a general lack of transparency in the sector. 

At the same time, we created the world’s first open source economic modelling tool, enabling citizens to digest the financial terms of their oil contracts and predict future revenue by changing variables like oil price and production costs. 

Uganda’s oil sector has emerged at a time when regional and global business norms are shifting towards greater transparency. International movements such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) have led the way, but Uganda has not yet signed up. The government must prove it is committed to managing its oil and mining sectors in the open if the Ugandan people are to reap the full benefits of their resources.