Kenyan & Ugandan lawyers discuss environmental protection

The School of Law has officially kick-started a capacity building workshop for Kenyan and Ugandan Lawyers on protecting the environment and biodiversity in upstream mining, oil and gas.

The workshop organized in collaboration with Makerere University, African Development Bank African Natural Resources Centre and the African Legal Support Facility is expected to run from September 14 to 19, 2020 exclusively online via zoom.

In a key note address to participants during the launch of the workshop, Vice Chancellor, Prof. Stephen Kiama said that Minerals, oil and gas represented major revenue sources for a number of African nations.

“Kenya and Uganda are recent entrants into the petroleum field where production processes are still evolving. Many times, the upstream activities in mining and in oil and gas extraction have a negative impact on the environment. This includes extensive ecological disruption and the permanent disuse of land. A major social impact of these activities is the involuntary displacement of people from their homes and ancestral lands.” Noted the VC.

Prof. Kiama observed that as Kenya and Uganda moves into uncharted territories, there is need to avoid pitfalls that brought pain instead of gain to other African countries that have trodden the same path.

“Integrating the dictates of sustainable development into the content of contracts for these activities is the way to go. This is what makes this workshop very important. The workshop will help to ensure that the two universities in this partnership lead the way in ensuring that the economic activities in their respective countries are consistent with environmental protection concerns and social interests.”

Prof. Christopher Mbazira, Principal, School of Law Makerere University said, “The relevance of this training lies in the fact natural resources negotiations are taking place in this region and we know that these are complex negotiations with investors therefore, it is very important that legal experts acquire the skills to effectively negotiate these contracts.”   

African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) CEO Mr. Stephen Karangizi in his remarks noted that the institution is happy to have many of East Africa’s lawyers working on different elements of upstream contracting from the public, private and civil society as Kenya and Uganda need innovative solutions that encourage investments in extractives with sustainable results.

 The workshop’s lead trainer Prof. Patricia Kameri-Mbote said that despite discoveries of new minerals, Kenya and Uganda had made national, regional and international commitments to look after the environment.

“It is therefore important for lawyers who are involved in the negotiations to be able to look at how the environment will be affected in the long term after natural resources are extracted.” Said Prof. Kameri-Mbote.