As part of the CTCN technical assistance on Formulation of Geothermal Energy Policy and Law in Uganda, a range of stakeholder meetings were held this summer to discuss the options and issues for policy and legal development in the country. The programme was led by the Geothermal Resources Department (GRD) of the Ministry of Energy and Minerals Development (MEMD), Uganda, with technical assistance provided by a consortium led by CTC Network member Carbon Counts.*
The stakeholder engagement programme used a two-way roundtable format where stakeholders were introduced to geothermal energy and its characteristics, and an outline of various options for Uganda to develop policy and legal frameworks were presented. The options were discussed in a group format in order to help clarify issues and solicit views on preferred approaches.
The programme covered a range of stakeholder roundtables covering:
- 1. Government ministries, agencies, and parastatal (UEGCL, UETCL)
- 2. Development partners and donors
- 3. The research and academic community
- 4. Private sector actors
- 5. Local communities in Western Uganda where geothermal resources are located
Upcountry meetings, Western Uganda
The programme began in Western Uganda, with meetings held in Kasese and Hoima, the respective district centres for the Katwe and Kibiro geothermal prospects. The meetings were attended by a wide range of local representatives including: Village Chiefs (Local Council [LC] I Chairman), various parish representatives (LCII), District Local Government Administrative Chiefs (LCV), Resident District Commanders (RDCs), District Internal Security Officers (DISOs), and several local agencies (National Environment Management Authority) and non-governmental organisations.
The team heard that local communities are generally supportive of geothermal development, but it was also flagged that there is a need to ensure that development is sympathetic of local activities (e.g. salt production from geothermal springs) and that benefits are realised locally. It was noted that clear consideration of direct uses of geothermal heat as a catalyst for local industrial development should be included in the policy, in particular in support of agriculture and fisheries activities (e.g. food processing and drying).
Following up country meetings, the team returned to Kampala for discussions with Government, Development Partners, Industry and Researchers about policy options and choices. Participants included various government Ministries and agencies, development partners (UNEP, IFC, GIZ, UNDP etc), academics (National Council for Science and Technology, Makerere University etc.) and private secotr actors (AAE Systems, GIDS, Moberge Finance etc.)
The team heard that:
- • There is a need to better understand geothermal resource potential in Uganda and to accelerate its development. The government needs to take a lead, including conducting test drilling at the most promising sites;
- • The mandate of the Geothermal Resources Department needs clarifying in terms of its role with respect to resource development and its regulatory functions;
- • That private sector has a role to play in resource development. The policy and legal framework needs to promote new methods of cooperation between government and the private sector. For example, clarifying expectations regarding exploration activities by private sector actors, as reflected in licensing arrangements, and more cooperation on surface studies;
- • There is a need to better coordinate academic research and educational aspects of geothermal energy. Several modules exist within Ugandan University courses, but mainly in the field of mechanical engineering rather than geology.
Further work is needed to bring geothermal energy into the syllabus of Earth science courses. Creation of specialised courses in the field at undergraduate level should be avoided, although scope for post-graduate studies should be explored further. Internships for students within the Geothermal Resources Department needs further effort. There was also broad agreement that geology could be better covered in the national curriculum for schools, of which geothermal should be a feature.
The team is currently working on the draft policy framework and legal and regulatory texts based on the analysis undertaken and inputs received from stakeholders. A round of inter-ministry/agency consultation will take place in late September 2016 on the draft documents. Thereafter it is anticipated that the texts will be held by the Minister for Energy and Minerals Development to promulgate through Uganda’s parliamentary process.
*The consortium for this technical assistance consists: Carbon Count; Shonubi, Musoke & Co Advocates; Economic Consulting Associates; Pro-Utility, Norton Rose Fulbright