State Minister for Mineral Development Samson Lokeris speaking at the forum

About a hundred delegates from the East African region are attending the two-day oil and gas management conference in Kampala, which has emphasized transparency in the nascent sector.

The delegates, mostly players from the private sector, oil communities, governments and policy think tanks in the region will debate oil revenue management and share best practices about it.

Maria Kiwanuka, the minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development while opening the conference at the Serena Conference Centre in Kampala, Uganda, said there was need to promote transparency and 'diffuse the distrust' in government by the public over the sector.

"The Uganda government insists on transparency and accountability in the oil sector. We must have public dialogues. Nobody must feel that they have been left behind," Kiwanuka said.

The conference, which attracted experts in the oil industry from different countries in the East African region, provides an opportunity for the participants to discuss best practices in oil and natural gas management.

It also aims to identify key issues, policy options, and implementation modalities that countries can adopt in order to institutionalize the equitable and sustainable management of their oil and natural gas reserves.

Regional think tanks in East Africa, specifically, Uganda-based Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) and the Kenya Institute for Public Policy and Analysis (KIPPRA), in collaboration with the Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) at the Brookings Institution, are organized the conference.

Kiwanuka said that the government recognises the role of various stakeholders in the sector and called on both parties to communicate regularly.

"Communicate, communicate, communicate," Kiwanuka emphasised adding that the government's key principle was to "forward the sector through inclusiveness."

Mr. Mwangi Kimenyi of the Africa Growth Institute (AGI) said, "we need to spend time talking about how to manage our natural resources. Everyone must be involved in the discussion."

Transparency, the conference emphasised, is important to the management of East Africa's oil and gas reserves because it allows citizens to provide information that government needs to develop and implement policies that can deal effectively with the problems they encounter in the process.

The conference also noted that governments would not succeed if they operate in secret. Failure to maintain an open and transparent approach to contracting for natural resource exploitation, as well as the exclusion of relevant stakeholders from fully participating in the policy process, creates opportunities for corruption and abuse of the revenue allocation process, the conference heard.

The conference offers a platform for all relevant stakeholders to engage in robust dialogue on the consultative processes that should be put into place in natural resource management in general, and public contracting in particular.

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