ANALYSISBy Khalifa Said
Dar es Salaam — Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni yesterday dropped strong hints on why he chose Tanzania over Kenya as the exit route for its oil pipeline.
Speaking in Dar es Salaam yesterday at the signing of a joint communique that signals conclusion of negotiations between the two countries over the pipeline President Museveni indicated that his personal relationship with Tanzania, and especially, his role as a follower of Mwl Julius Nyerere, was vital in pushing him towards Tanzania for the pipeline deal.
President John Magufuli’s no nonsense, walk-the-talk leadership style seems to be another deciding factor.
“I have been a follower of Mwalimu Nyerere since 1963. And the main reasons that I supported Mwalimu were his stance against tribalism, patriotism, his support for Africa liberation movement and his stance on the East Africa Federation,” President Museveni said.
The 1,443 kilometres long pipeline dubbed the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) from Kabeele (Hoima District in Uganda) to the Tanga Port was initially expected to pass through Kenya.
When Uganda opted for Tanzania last year the reasons cited were the low cost of the pipeline construction due to the fact that the Tanzanian terrain is less rugged, the existence of a port at Tanga as opposed to constructing a new one at Lamu and less land compensation due to lower price of land in Tanzania.
Speaking at the same event yesterday in the State House President Magufuli repeated these factors as having had a sway over Uganda’s choice for Tanzania. “Oil coming from Owimbe [Uganda] to Sekenke-Tanga [Tanzania] will flow by gravity making no need to pump it unlike in other [countries] where there would be a need of a number of booster stations. But also Tanzania’s land is not as expensive as it is in the other [countries]. Through the Land Acts no 4 and no 5, the Tanzania Land Policy and amendments on the other laws, the country has secured a permanent land reserve for the project,” President Magufuli said.
But yesterday President Museveni suggested that he identifies himself more with the Tanzania’s long-held vision of a federated East Africa as well as the new vigour in the current Tanzanian leadership.
“I have been pushing for the federation for the past 30 years, ever since I became President, unfortunately when I took over Mwalimu had just left. If I had come in government when Mwalimu was still here, we would have already formed this federation,” he said.
Added he: “The (pipeline) project is an indication of the importance of an integrated political decision making. Many development projects have failed due to the fragmented decision making among the regional political leaders. The Chinese became the second largest economy in the world because once the decision is made in Beijing it affects three million square miles of land and 1.3 billion people.”
Yesterday’s communique signed between the two presidents paves the way for the commencement of the actual construction of the project.
A statement issued yesterday by the State House said an Inter-governmental Agreement (IGA) would be signed in a week’s time and then the foundation stone will be laid.
Most of the pipeline, about 1,115 kilometres out of 1,443 kilometres will pass in the Tanzanian territory, the statement said. With the construction cost of $3.55 billion (Sh7.8 trillion) the pipeline will transport 200,000 drums of oil per day and will generate between 6,000 and 10,000 during construction.
Pipeline in safe hands
President Magufuli yesterday said that Tanzania is an experienced country in terms of oil pipeline construction and management citing the Dar es Salaam-Zambia oil pipeline and the Mtwara-Dar es Salaam natural gas pipeline. “So we have more experience in maintaining the pipelines compared to other East African countries,” said Dr Magufuli. He also said that even the political situation in the country is peaceful and security is guaranteed 100 per cent.
Tanga is also the best choice because the port, the coastline and the ocean are all protected, President Magufuli noted.
Why Magufuli is a happy man
“Today I am a happy man,” President Magufuli, who was obviously in a very joyful mood, quipped yesterday.
“This is the true definition of East African Cooperation,” he added.
“This is good thing, we will never forget you, Tanzanians are your siblings,” he told his counterpart President Museveni.
Background to the Tanga-Hoima pipeline
The East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) is a proposed pipeline to transport crude oil from Uganda’s oil fields to Tanga, Tanzania, a port on the Indian Ocean.
The oil pipeline would start in Buseruka sub-county, Hoima District, in Uganda’s Western Region. It would travel in a general southeasterly direction to pass through Masaka in Uganda, Bukoba in Tanzania, and loop around the southern shores of Lake Victoria, continue through Shinyanga and Siginda, to end in Tanga, a distance of approximately 1,410 kilometres (880 mi)
Uganda has proven oil reserves exceeding 6.5 billion barrels, of which about 2.2 billion barrels are recoverable. The country plans to build a refinery in the Western Region to process what is needed locally and regionally, with the rest exported via pipeline to the Indian Ocean coast.
Uganda previously agreed to build a joint Uganda-Kenya Crude Oil Pipeline to the Kenyan port of Lamu.
Concerns regarding security and cost, however, motivated parallel negotiations with Tanzania regarding a shorter and safer route to Port Tanga, with the support of the French petroleum conglomerate Total SA.
At the 13th Northern Corridor Heads of State Summit in Kampala in April 2016, Uganda officially announced its choice for the Tanzania route for its crude oil, in preference to the Mombasa or Lamu routes in Kenya. At that summit, the presidents of both Kenya and Rwanda were present, along with representatives from Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Tanzania. At the same summit, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that Kenya would build the Kenya Crude Oil Pipeline on its own, thereby abandoning the Uganda-Kenya Crude Oil Pipeline.