Ugandans take oil transparency message to 10 Downing Street

Vincent Magombe, Lee Opiyo Oryema, William Nkata Masembe and Belinda Atim outside number 10

A group of Ugandans in the London Diaspora have delivered an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron on behalf of over 200 civil society activists from their home country. The petition calls on the British government to force oil, gas and mining companies registered in the UK to be more transparent in their operations abroad.

Belinda Atim, one of the civil society activists who handed over the petition, said:

“I am proud to be representing the voices of over 200 activists from across Uganda who are calling for transparency in the oil industry. Today we sent Prime Minister Cameron the clear message that Ugandans need his support so that the resource course that has blighted so many of our neighbours in Africa doesn’t come to Uganda. By introducing a law that forces companies like Tullow Oil to publish all their payments to governments, David Cameron can make sure activists like me can get the information we desperately need to hold our leaders to account. We are determined to make sure that the huge revenues the government will generate from oil are used to help the people of Uganda, not to line the pockets of the wealthy elite.”

Uganda will soon be producing large quantities of oil, which has the potential to transform the country’s economy and help lift people out of poverty. However, the Production Sharing Agreements have been kept secret by the Ugandan Government despite repeated attempts by journalists and civil society to access the contracts. Currently there is no provision in place for publishing payments received once production begins.

The US passed a law last July as part of the Dodd-Frank Act which will mean all extractive companies registered in America will have to publish all their payments to the governments in every country they operate. ONE is now campaigning for a similar law in Europe. The key company operating in Uganda, Tullow Oil, is not listed in the US so will only have to disclose their payments once Europe follows suit.

The UK Chancellor George Osborne has pledged his support to the new law and has promised to push European legislation. Nearly 10,000 ONE members have signed a petition urging him to act as swiftly as possible.