Al Kasim
Ministry of Industry
Norway
Norwegian Petroleum Directorate
Uganda

To avoid the oil curse, use revenue to develop other sectors of economy

2006: Al Kasim won an honorary award for his contribution to technology development on the Norwegian continental shelf — the region over which the country exercises sovereign rights as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

1968: Moved to the Ministry of Industry in Norway as an advisor on the development of the country’s oil and gas production regulations. 1972: Director of resource management in the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate. 1990: Independent consultant in the petroleum industry.

The objective is to not be dependent on oil. So you start the oil production and right from the start, be determined to free yourself from total dependence on it.

So there is no security in being rich in oil. If you are limited in your wealth, that is all the more reason you should not become entirely dependent.

The oil curse happens because you become so dependent on oil and your productivity in other sectors is so low that you have no way of surviving as a country if and when the oil price falls or your oil reserves become costly and you cannot sustain oil production.

You must have the discipline not to use all your petroleum revenue as soon as it begins to roll in, but reserve a good part of it for when oil prices decline.

So apart from talking about it and explaining its dangers, make the people aware of the consequences, make the citizens the guardians of the revenue because it is not in their interest if there is corruption.

If oil is the most powerful incentive, why not use the bad things it brings as stimulus to improve your governance? Insist on good governance and benefit from it in the long term.

I think you should be pleased because it has given the nation time to consider the negative aspects of moving too fast. It will help in preparing.

You need everybody to think: The government, the citizens, and the oil companies. All parties need to come together, dialogue with each other and come up with an optimum solution.

This is possible only if everybody understands what they are doing, which means they need time to know the game, the rules, the pitfalls and how to become the masters in their own house. It is a question of knowing what is in the national interest.

What is your take on Uganda’s intensive borrowing ahead of the oil revenue with the view that this very revenue will pay off the loans in future?

To a certain extent, I understand it. If the money borrowed is used wisely to strengthen the foundations of other industries and sectors, maybe you can defend borrowing ahead of the oil income.

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