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The tragedy of Bobi Wine


How the ideological poverty of Uganda’s leading opposition figure makes him subversive to our national interest

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Uganda’s leading opposition figure, Robert Kyagulanyi, hereinafter referred to by his stage name, Bobi Wine, is a disaster of unmitigated proportions. He claims to be opposed to the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). I wonder whether he even knows what this project is about and the length to which the governments of Uganda and Tanzania and the International Oil Companies (IOCs) went to ensure that all social and environmental issues pertaining to this project are addressed. For a person who aspires to lead Uganda, Bobi Wine comes across as not just ignorant and reckless, but also dangerously subversive to Uganda’s interests.

Bobi Wine and that army of emotional desperados who rally around him have legitimate grievances against the government of President Yoweri Museveni. Many of them have been unfairly and unjustly jailed without trial, tortured in illegal detention facilities and killed. Sometimes their only crime has been to voice opposition to the government. I feel their pain and stand with them on those grievances. However, to use these grievances to join forces with foreign groups hostile to our vital national interests is unforgivable. Museveni is a transient figure in Uganda’s politics and the clock is ticking towards the evening of his stay. But Uganda will stay here forever.

Here are the facts about Uganda’s oil sector, which I think Museveni and his government, have handled well. Government has gone to great length to ensure that the exploitation of Uganda’s oil meets the best international environmental, legal and social standards. We have two oil areas. Tilenga is the northern field between Nwoya and Buliisa districts. They have two blocks which will produce most of the crude oil, about 190,000 barrels per day. The key assets are  a) the wells that will produce the crude and b) the central processing facility that will clean up the crude by separating water, gas and other impurities like mud. Once cleaned it is put in c) a pipeline that will transport it from the fields to Hoima. The idea is that all the crude will be gathered in Hoima and the EACOP will begin from there. Then there is a Kingfisher, which is in the southern fields and the process is the same as above.

For each of these facilities, detailed Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) was done. The ESIA looks at the environmental impacts that the project will cause. Once the impact is identified, you seek to avoid certain impacts and those that cannot be avoided you work to mitigate. For instance, some of the wells in Tilenga are in the national park where wild animals reside. When drilling a rig, it makes a lot of noise. To mitigate this, government and IOCs will bring in a silent rig that will drill without noise.

The ESIA report is then taken to the district for its officials, civil society and academia to see the avoidance and mitigation measures agreed on and make comments. Then public hearings are held and people come and make their contribution. Once this information is gathered, the report is improved and submitted to NEMA. Then their experts study the report, make comments and sit with IOCs and UNOC representing government and negotiate the final changes to make to the documents. It is after this that NEMA approves the document and gives you a certificate that you begin implement the ESIA.

Then in come the financing institutions – these include export credit agencies, development finance institutions, commercial banks and insurance companies. These are sensitive to environmental and social issues. Especially banks want to avoid risks. They send their experts – independent auditors in the field who audit the resettlement action plan, the legal regime, the technical design of the production and processing facilities etc. In Uganda’s case, these found Uganda’s ESIAs to be among the best in the world and the projects passed on all aspects. For EACOP, the project is oversubscribed by financiers at 120% – proof that Uganda has done an excellent job.

The law that Uganda has deals with carbon emissions from the project. Uganda has a law that bans flaring. When you produce crude oil, it comes with, among other things, gas. If you separate gas, you must find something to do with it. In many countries, they just burn it (flaring). But this emits a lot of carbon. Uganda decided not to burn the gas but will convert it into Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Uganda will be producing 100,000 metric tons per year. Currently, the consumption of LPG in Uganda today is only 25,000 tons per year.

The pipeline will need to be heated. Initially the plan was to use crude to heat the pipeline. This would generate a lot of carbon. It was decided to build four solar farms to generate electricity for 80% of the pipeline. The other 20% will be heated by power imported from the Ugandan grid, which is 80% hydro. UNOC will plant 40 million trees which is aimed at offsetting the carbon that the project will generate that will not have been offset by the clean energy. Total is also planting 100,000 trees. Effectively the project will be almost as carbon neutral as it can get. This has lasted years.

The resettlement plan has also been audited and approved by experts and found to meet international standards. Once the route was identified, governments of Uganda and Tanzania and IOCs went and met with all those people to be affected by the project. In terms of numbers (Uganda side), there are 3,648 project affected persons in the ten districts. Of these, only 4% are going to be required to be relocated, and these can choose to be given cash compensation or have a new home built for them.

For those who have chosen cash compensation, every district has a committee that independently establishes the rates for their assets – house, trees, crops etc. This is on top of the value of the land. The chief government valuer supervises this process and ensures that values are harmonised across the districts. After this, the government hired Centenary Bank to go to the villages to do financial literacy training. People were trained, they opened bank accounts and compensation is now at 60%. Government has also added a disturbance allowance of 30%. And for most of the project affected persons, government has added a 15% uplift allowance for delays. This same process was also conducted in Tanzania where it was easier because their land tenure system is simpler. So what exactly is Bobi Wine’s concern?



  1. Museveni is the dirty bath water and Uganda is the baby.
    There are myriad enthusiastic people trying to pour out the bath water.
    Call it, “opposition for the sake of opposition”.
    Our biggest failure is the inability to differentiate national from political issues.
    It is the reason I find all opposition insincere in their claims to having uganda at heart.
    How can they have uganda at heart and yet try to destroy or reverse all national goals?

    • Can you also explain why the government supposed to protect all its people is abducting and even killing some of those in opposition? Reason like an adult boss.

  2. The secret to Bobi’s irrelevance is still a secret. But like everyone that deserves a second chance in life, he hopefully will come to the table of good understanding one day.

      Mwenda’s assertions on what is on paper are correct, but check the reality.

      • Rule of law you say?

        Don’t you find it ironic that this is someone who lies(d) about his age? That’s not rule of law.

        Also someone who recently visited Israel and praised it as a model country, never mind Israel being the only country in the world that still practices apartheid against Palestinians, it’s ILLEGALLY OCCUPYING Palestinian land CONTRARY to international law and indiscriminately killing Palestinians using American arms. That’s his model kind of country. Does that sound rule of law to you?

        He claims – without evidence that the EACOP will be used to promote dictatorship in Uganda. Ok, assuming he’s right, what if Saudi Arabia that has the worst human rights record? How come the US still cuddles them to date? Saudi Arabia knows Oil makes it a bargaining and equal partner bse of its wealth. Europeans don’t want Africa to develop. Simple. They still want to have a hold on Africa otherwise China takes it all.

      • Well said. How come Mwenda doesn’t address the issue of human rights and puts all his effort into the economic benefit? Why doesn’t the government come out and tell us why innocent Ugandans continue to be abducted and some even killed? In summary, that is Bobi wine’s problem if Mwenda didn’t know.

  3. It is so unfortunate that the debate about Uganda’s oil has attracted the politicians but as a person who hails from one of Uganda’s mining regions, (salt, copper, cobalt ,cement and many others) it is clear that the government has got a very poor record in maintaining a decent relationship in its .mineral areas
    Where as of the various plays it is the European Parliament that has raised the red flag, I think it is prudent for any commentator to examine the concerns of these bosses because inspire of the bravado of our politicians including the president, they all know that in trade matters, these fellas have the last word. If you have lived here long enough, you will recall the President’s tales of barter trade and coloured beans.
    In the nineties, DP president Semogerere Kawanga was widely accused of sabotaging a young government especially when he vied for the presidency in 1996,Later it was Kizza Besigye in 2001 and now it is this angry young man Robert . The difference is that the stakes are higher and the constant is a government that has never learned from its own mistakes.
    Just afew months back during the corona pandemic, government officials were traversing the villages threatening hapless villagers that the vaccine would be sold for 1.5m a dose to those who missed it. In some cases roadblocks were setup to forcefully vaccinate travellers and no media outlet condemned this..
    If you live on the fringes like most people in mining areas, you know what a tragedy is and it is not Bobi wine it is those smart people writing and reading impact assessment reports for their minders in Belgium and Washington. Thank yoi

  4. I am the environmentalist…..of the 40m trees, how many has unoc so far planted….or, it plans to plant once the fumes start going up….. operations

  5. 1,You mean the world takes Bobi seriously for real?Where is Whitehall and Westminster in all this?How can this happen to a Commonwealth nation?How did we get here?let me apologize to M7 on behalf of all the youth for being a nuisance .
    2. Bobi Wine is a conman who hops with street lawyers of the West.
    3.So you mean wild animals and trees have more value than a multi -billion investment,the animals are already wild so what is the big deal with them?
    4.The new terrorist group is now that of NGOs ,Gone are the days when development partners like Rockefeller meant well now days we have Elon Musk and Richard Branson .Elion wants to see his Telsta electric cars that’s why he is against oil production he is actually so conflicted in that he sponsors all the events that are pro environment while Bransons supports LGBT .These are the boys that excite Bobi.
    5,In case France drops the hot cake; then we shall deal with China who is always on standby.
    6.The world order has changed it good to be EU’s friend but most nations are making it on their own.
    7.Ruto was interviewed by James Bay on Aljezeera’s Pepole and Power;when asked what strategy he had for Kenya’s economic crisis;he said he would abolish the subsides introduced by Kenyatta because they were expensive and not sustainable this made me cry because M7 did not entertain that idea.
    8.M7,Total Energies Boss the AG’s team ,the technocrats in the oil sector all had highlighters while noting the key clauses in the oil contact.This really made me cry actually my blouse was soaked with tears.The level of intelligence and love for the country that was demonstrated was out of this world.
    9.The way Bobi wine just poped out of the blue to become the leader of Uganda’s main opposition is the same way he has again done to oppose the oil deal.there is aot of emptiness in him that really traumatized those who dont understand Luganda.

    • why dont you ignore him and do your business of drilling since u claim he is ignorant

    • But Winnie, of all conmen/women Mr. Museveni is a self-confessed conman. E.g., were were you on 9th October 2022, when Gen Inadvisable (Tibuhaburwa) confessed before his VIP Guests, that he is the culprit of the dubious ring-fencing of value addition and export of our Coffee?

      In other words Winnie, except a career criminal gangster who has captured the state; since when have you heard a head of state, on the 60th Independence Day Anniversary, in broad-day-light tells the whole world that he is “the culprit” involved in a dubious coffee deal with a Neo Colonialist sic Pinetti (the Italian Job)?

  6. I think people are actually saying, there are no controls under M7. If government officials are stealing pitly Aids and PDM money with impunity, what do you expect to happen to a boat load of dollars from oil.

  7. I really wonder why many people who claim Bobi wine to be a nobody are the same people spending so much time discussing him. Why don’t you simply ignore him?

    Mwenda, you have asked what exactly is Bobi’s problem. To answer you, he wants the government of Uganda, which you dearly support, to stop abducting, torturing, and even killing his supporters. Being in opposition is not a crime; even if it was, why can’t they be charged and sentenced? That is what Bobi wants the government to address and if EACOP can be used to achieve that, let it be. Human life is more important than the billions of dollars many of you are excited about.

  8. Now that Andrew Mwenda eloquently defends everything and anything Gen Museveni does to Ugandans, better than Hon Chris Baryomunsi or OO; what is Mr. Museveni waiting for to appoint Mwenda, Minister of ICT?

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