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Uganda, Tanzania face increased pressure from international communities

Eacop pipeline project
  • The East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (Eacop) project continues to face backlash from environmentalist groups worldwide.
  • Regardless, both countries have insisted on going ahead with the project. 
  • The Ugandan National Oil Corporation's head legal and corporate affairs officer, Peter Muliisa noted that these groups do not get the entire picture. 

East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (Eacop), a $5 billion project proposed by Uganda, has become a worldwide flashpoint as environmental activists pressure lenders to abandon the project even as Tanzanian authorities granted a building permit.

Tanzania approved the building of the pipeline on Tuesday, a few weeks after Uganda did the same in the previous month. Peter Muliisa, Uganda National Oil Corporation's head legal and corporate affairs officer, claims that this enables the nations to begin transporting the machinery to the locations.

According to Wendy Brown, general manager of Eacop Tanzania, the permission permits for the start of building there.

Climate activists have criticised the Eacop, which is scheduled to run 1,443 km from Lake Albert in western Uganda to the Tanzanian port of Tanga, claiming that it poses a threat to evict thousands of people and damages vital ecosystems in the two East African nations.

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On February 22, people from all around the world joined members of the Stop Eacop alliance to exert pressure on Standard Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), and Standard Chartered not to sponsor Eacop.

The activists contend that the project violates the Equator Principles, a set of standards adopted by these specific lenders for assessing, determining, and managing social and environmental risk for project finance.

“Standard Bank (South Africa) and SMBC (Japan) are financial advisers to the project’s operators and reportedly helping to arrange a multibillion-dollar loan to construct Eacop, while Standard Chartered (UK) has expressed interest in financing the project,” 350.org, a New York-based climate-focused non-profit, said in a statement on Wednesday.

In addition to Kampala, London, Paris, and New York, the Eacop demonstrations also took place in 18 other cities, including Tokyo, Johannesburg, Frankfurt, Brussels, Sendai, Hoima, Nagoya, Toronto, Fukuoka, Goma, Cape Town, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Vancouver.

On the other hand, Uganda has defended the nation's oil projects, contending that environmental activists only partially understand the global energy revolution.

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“Their cause will eventually be ignored,” said Peter Muliisa.

“The global north has gone back to using coal power plants but climate activists focus on small projects in Africa.

There is no denying climate change, but we are dealing with energy poverty here,” he added.

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