Curse of the black gold: Discovery of oil deposits in East Africa raises heat

oildrillWhen Juan Pablo Perez Alfonzo, a Venezuelan who founded the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), warned of the devil during the oil boom in 1970s, he was largely ignored.

He had foreseen the effects of oil when he said: “Ten years from now, 20 years from now, oil will bring us ruin. We are drowning in the Devil’s excrement.”

And events of last week could easily point to the ‘devil’ inherent in the discovery of oil in the world.

Kenya is sure of 600 million barrels in Lokichar basin in Turkana County, while Uganda posts a higher figure of 6.5 billion barrels in Hoima, Lake Albert basin.

But as Nicholas Shaxson explained in the book, “Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil", discovery of the much sought after resource may not be a blessing as many expected.“Producing oil seems to be a bit like taking cocaine: if you are already healthy it might invigorate you, but if you are weak or sick, as many African countries are, it can do you serious harm,” Shaxson observes.

The reality of discovering of oil has now hit Kenya and Uganda.


The two, emerging producers, are both staring at the onerous task of starting to produce oil in 2018.

Debate over the route the pipeline that will take crude oil from Hoima and Lokichar to either Lamu Port or Tanga Port for export has been heating up.

It is at such a stage, oil experts say, emerging producers quickly assemble specialists to negotiate with oil companies.

As it is, politicians and civil servants who sit in these teams are at a disadvantage because oil companies have highly trained executives who understand the inherent risks and potential profits from any negotiation.

A shortage of expertise in oil industry is what is playing out between Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and the oil companies involved in deciding the route  the pipeline will take.

The oil companies in question are Total S A, Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and Tullow Oil plc.

The possible routes the pipeline can take are the Kenya North Route from Hoima to Lokichar to Lamu positing a distance of 1,476 kilometres while the second one is the Kenya South Route, which begins from Hoima to Nakuru to Mombasa with a spur line from Lokichar to the Nakuru tie-in point whose length is 1,544 kilometres.

The third is the Joint Tanga Route from Lokichar to Hoima to Tanga which is 2,028 kilometres and the fourth proposal is the standalone Tanga Route beginning from Hoima to Tanga for Uganda’s crude oil, a distance of 1,443 kilometres.

The last option is the standalone Kenya Route, posting 891 kilometres transporting Kenya’s crude only.


Three feasibility studies were carried out by the oil companies. The first one involving the trio while in the second, CNOOC teamed up with Tullow.

Total S A, then carried out its own study, which apparently is at the centre of the tussle between Kenya and Tanzania over transmission of Uganda’s oil.

A government report states: “In most aspects, there is a high degree of similarity between the studies, with the exception of the Total study. The Total study has not been undertaken to comparable level of maturity.”

The Total S A study shows that long and protracted land compensation deals could delay Hoima-Lokichar-Lamu pipeline construction, pushing up its cost.

The Northern Corridor Pipeline route has poor roads, lack airports as it traverses a vast hunting area which has low protection status.

It also states that the Lamu Port is behind schedule and it is also prone to seasonal monsoon winds which make it impossible for ships to dock.

In contrast, the Tanga Port is built and with a few refurbishments, it will be up and running. It is not affected by the monsoon winds.

Total also expressed fears over election related violence in Kenya and frequent terror attacks, stating  its decision is irreversible.

President Yoweri Museveni delivered the same concerns to the government last week during the bilateral talks in Nairobi.

In February 2014, Uganda signed a deal with Total SA, Tullow and CNOOC for a refinery and an oil pipeline.

The MoU required the three companies to establish a refinery with Uganda given the discretion to choose the possible route of the pipeline through neighbouring countries, which would be least costly to the oil firms.

East African Community member States were subsequently invited to buy stakes in the proposed refinery, seen then as the solution to the region having to import expensive oil products.

Kenya and Uganda had also, in 2013,  agreed to have a pipeline from Uganda to Lamu with an extension to Juba, South Sudan.

However, Total had been lobbying for a change of route. In July last year, the company’s vice-president for Eastern Africa, Mr Jabier Rielo, met President Museveni over the matter.

More than a week after President Kenyatta had toured Kampala in August, the Total chief travelled to Tanzania to meet authorities over the same matter.

During the East African Community Summit in Arusha early this month, Mr Museveni, and his Tanzanian counterpart, Mr John Magufuli,  announced  they had agreed to construct a pipeline through the southern route.

Courtersy of Daily Nation

Biting teacher shortage hits Mandera County

Mandera County has a shortage of 1,800 teachers.

This follows a massive exodus of tutors from the devolved unit last year due to insecurity, according to Teachers Service Commission’s Mandera Director Jimali Ahmed. Mr Ahmed said 850 teachers fled the county at the height of insecurity, after 28 of their colleagues on a Nairobi-bound bus that was hijacked by Al-Shabaab terrorists were killed. “We have a serious shortage of teachers in many schools in Mandera despite having employed 671 after the exodus,” he said.

manderaSince the exodus, only 70 vacancies have been filled in secondary schools despite the TSC giving Mandera 200 slots. “We are still facing challenges of attracting teachers. TSC forms remain unfilled at our offices as qualified staff avoid Mandera,” he said. Mr Ahmed said areas bordering Somalia are the most affected, with some schools at risk of closure due to lack of trained teachers. “Lafey Secondary School has the principal as the only trained teacher. We can’t send more teachers to the area due to insecurity,” he said.


He said of the 671 newly employed teachers in the county, 140 had been interdicted or posted to other counties while others left due to continued attacks. “When a military camp was attacked at El-Adde in Somalia, teachers from two schools in Elwak fled, and now the children are suffering,” said Mr Ahmed. The county government hired 910 Form Four leavers to teach in the county after the 2014 bus attack.

There are 42 public secondary schools and 210 public primary schools in Mandera. The county has 14 private secondary schools and 33 private primary schools. Mr Ahmed questioned the educational qualifications of 172 teachers in the private schools, after none applied for the vacancies at public schools advertised by the TSC. “From our own research, less than 10 teachers in the private schools are trained,” said the official. He spoke during the launch of performance contracting for teachers in Mandera Town.

Courtersy of Daily Nation

3,000 youths a security threat after ceremony


baringo threatOver 3,000 young people who were recently initiated into manhood in Tiaty Sub-County in Baringo County are now posing a big security threat in the North Rift region. The Nation has learnt that a number of them are yet to report to school for the first term despite orders by county officials. According to the Pokot culture, after undergoing the ritual, young men are expected to acquire wealth in the form of cattle and later get married.

Silale Ward Rep Nelson Lotela said raids might escalate in the area if the young men are not urged to go back to school. “Without education, the young men may end up in early marriages, and engage in cattle raids,” said Mr Lotela. His Barwessa Ward counterpart Joseph Makilap feared education would continue to lag behind in the area as the young men marry early. “Such a big number of young people who are staying at home, instead of being in school, are a security threat in this county because some of them may resort to cattle rustling and banditry,” Mr Makilap told the Nation.

He called on the local administration to intervene and advise the community on the importance of educating young men, saying school dropouts will contribute to cattle rustling and banditry in the area. More than 70 schools in the sub-county are affected. Mr Francis Merinyang, the head teacher of Nginyang Primary School, the most affected, said many boys will drop out in the sub-county. County Director of Education Daniel Mosbei raised concern over the poor enrolment in schools, saying taking pupils for initiation during school days is unacceptable.

Courtersy of Daily Nation

Turkana herders cry foul over police operation


turkana herdersHerders from the Turkana community in Isiolo are crying foul following Saturday’s police operation in which 230 cows were seized in Attan in an exercise meant to identify stolen animals. The animals were on Friday rounded up to aid in the recovery of 68 cows stolen from Meru herders in Kandebene, Tigania East last Wednesday.

A Kenya Police Reservist (KPR) was shot dead and his firearm stolen during the attack. More than 100 herders from the Turkana community camped at Isiolo stadium on Friday night awaiting the release of their animals.

The animals are under tight security by police. Mr Christopher Akuye, a Turkana herder, accused police of subjecting them to unnecessary punishment instead of dealing with criminals.

He denied claims that the community was hiding rustlers and challenged the security officers to arrest those criminals. They also accused police of physical harassment while driving the animals from their manyattas.

The Meru herders, also camping at the stadium’s gate, claimed to have identified at least 10 of their stolen animals among the animals. Seventeen suspected raiders were arrested in connection with cattle theft.

Isiolo Deputy County Commissioner Kipchumba Rutto said the animals seized will be held until all the 68 cows stolen during the raid in Tigania East are returned. He said Isiolo and Meru security teams were pursuing other attackers. “We will not release the animals until the 68 stolen cattle are returned to their rightful owners and criminals identified. We will secure all animals until the matter is resolved,” said Mr Rutto.

Courtersy of DailyNation


Pastoralist Development Network - of Kenya

We are an advocacy NGO established under a Trust deed number 791 DI 4453128 in 2003. The network is a conglomeration of 60 pastoralists’ individuals, NGOs and CBOs and non-pastoralist institutions and individuals supporting pastoralists’ development process in Kenya. It draws its membership from North Rift, South Rift, North Eastern and Upper Eastern regions of Kenya representing 14 pastoralist Counties. Its mission is to lobby for the inclusion of the pastoralist agenda in mainstream development with the vision of a prosperous pastoralist society.

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