Governments within the East Africa Community have been urged to strike a balance between development and conservation in order to create lasting value to society in the lucrative oil and gas sector.
Speaking at the ongoing 2019 East Africa Petroleum Conference and Exhibition (EAPCE) in Mombasa, stakeholders from across the region called on governments to open up avenues for local community participation and engagement in order to avert disruptions in the exploration as those witnessed in Turkana.
“While the demands of most citizens are always at all time high, and especially those of the host communities, the group is urging for continuous civil education in order to adequately manage their expectations on revenue sharing by putting up mechanisms that will guarantee long-term development aspirations for the wellbeing of all citizens,” urged civil society organizations drawn from Kenya Oil and Gas Working group, WWF and Civil Society Coalition on Oil and Gas in Uganda.
As part of their recommendations, the groups want governments to define critical habitats, which then will be placed off-limits to oil and gas developments for long-term conservation and associated local livelihood benefit.
They are also calling on governments to sufficiently address and make required legal and institutional provisions to safeguard the right of local communities and individuals to own land.
On the issues of compensation, the groups want compensation be holistic and not simply monetary.
“Project affected persons ought to be given prior and sufficient information on the available options in order to make informed choices. Strict adherence to the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) to protect the rights of communities likely to be affected by key petroleum activities will go a long way in ensuring protection of community and individual land rights,” they said.
Governments in the region have also been urged to support local firms in developing local capacity and eventually favorably compete with expatriate companies.
“This approach has already been tried and tested successfully in the mining sector with outstanding long-term local development benefits in the Bafokeng community of South Africa,” they say.
The bi-annual conference provides a forum for dialogue for all players in the Petroleum industry regionally and internationally. It concludes on 10th May 2019.
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