Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassana’s first state visit to Uganda has signaled the revival of East Africa’s energy arena.
President Samia made her first trip outside Tanzania as head of State on Sunday, April 11, since she took oath of office on March 19 following the death of her predecessor John Pombe Magufuli, who succumbed to heart disease last month.
Samia met her Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and agreed to support and show their commitment to the realisation and implementation of the strategic East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project.
The agreement was made on Sunday at the State House in Entebbe during the bilateral talks.
Accelerating the Uganda-Tanzania Energy Relationship
In May 2017, both countries signed the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) on the implementation of the project.
The last meeting regarding the project was held in September 2020 between Museveni and the late Tanzania president John Magufuli at Chato, Tanzania, where they agreed that each party was to conclude the host project, commence negotiations of pending agreements, and expedite the implementation.
The meeting between the two leaders is a sign of commitment to conclude the project that was well supported by Magufuli who died on March 17, 2021.
In their agreements, they said that all the outstanding issues related to the project have been amicably resolved.
The Shareholding Agreement was also signed by all the stakeholders during the meeting.
That having concluded the Tariff and Transportation Agreement and the host Government Agreement for Uganda and the Shareholding Agreement for Shareholders to the EACOP company, the companies can now launch the project and award the main Engineering, Procurement, and Construction Contracts.
They also discussed bilateral talks on a wide range of issues of mutual interest and expressed their satisfaction with the relation and cooperation that is existing between the two neighbouring countries.
Victory for Tanzania and Uganda
According to President Museveni, the signing of the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline is a third victory for Uganda and Tanzania.
Museveni who spoke shortly after the deal was signed said the choice of the date was a sentimental one.
While narrating the history behind Tanzania-Uganda relations, President Museveni noted that it was on the very date the oil deal has been signed that the Tanzanian troops of the 20th Division under General David Msuguri, captured Kampala and enabled a Ugandan army officer David Oyite Ojok to announce the fall of Idi Amin on Radio Uganda.
Museveni further said the two countries have in the past posted military and political victories and now with the oil pipeline deal it is an economic victory.
According to him, when the Tanzanian route became viable a new consideration crossed his mind – the historical contribution of Tanzania in the liberation of Uganda in both 1978-79 and 1985-86.
New era under President Samia
While some of the countries in the East African Community (EAC) shared bad blood during President Magufuli’s era, President Samia is changing the narrative.
As soon as assumed the office of Presidency, she started making changes. President Samia suspended the Director of the country’s port authority over massive embezzlement of public funds just days after she was sworn in.
Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) Director-General Deusdedit Kakoko was adversely mentioned in the report of the Controller and Audit -General(CAG).
Suluhu had vowed to continue the strict legacy of former president Magufuli who had zero tolerance towards corruption, incompetence among other shortcomings.
On Tuesday, April 6, 2021, President Samia said that she intends to form a committee of experts to professionally evaluate the Covid-19 pandemic so as to advise the government on the way forward.
She said Tanzania should not continue to isolate itself as if it is an Island. She also ordered authorities at the Information ministry on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, to lift a ban on some media outlets in a statement that could define her as a democratic leader who has nothing against freedom of expression.
A day before visiting Uganda, President Samia met President Uhuru Kenyatta’s delegation from Nairobi, where they agreed to bring a solution to the issues that have been existing between Kenya and Tanzania.
President Kenyatta also asked her to make a state visit to Kenya in what is seen as a move to strengthen the relations between the two countries.
With the ongoing insurgency in Mozambique, investors can now shift to East Africa, whose energy sector is now being revived.
In recent years, Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province has shot to the forefront of the global oil and gas sector. Discoveries made by US energy firm Anadarko and Italian company ENI, revealing more than 2.4 trillion cubic metres of gas off the country’s eastern coast, have attracted the attention of some of the world’s largest oil companies, with Shell, BP, and the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) all making moves in the area.
However, the discovery has come at a cost, with local people displaced by the sudden influx of large-scale industrial operations and the usual concerns over environmental protection.
The situation has been made even more precarious by the outbreak of terrorist violence too, with the Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jamaas group, allegedly aligned with ISIS, active in the area, sparking a conflict that has killed more than 2,500 people and displaced a further half million.
The government’s response has been to mobilise the army to protect its new natural gas assets, a move that has drawn criticism as the state seems more interested in protecting its lucrative oil and gas projects ahead of its citizens.
With the country facing energy and security risks, Mozambique faces a number of challenges to make good on its new lucrative oil and gas potential.