Dr Sarah Ssewanyana is the Executive Director of the Economic Policy Research Centre based in Kampala which organized an oil and gas management forum from 23rd to 24th January 2013. The forum, with a theme management for inclusive and sustainable development of the oil sector, brought together experts in the industry.

Dr Ssewanyana shares her thoughts on the conference and oil sector in the region with Grace Natabaalo.

What role is EPRC playing in the regional dialogue and research to advise the government on how to manage revenues?
EPRC in collaboration with the Kenya's leading policy think tank - Kenya Institute for Public Policy and Research Analysis - and Brookings Institution's African Growth Initiative has organized this Forum that has brought together the relevant stakeholders in the oil and gas sector. As part of this Forum, the Centre has produced a scoping paper on the state of art of the oil and gas. The Centre through its mandate is encouraging the key stakeholders in the sector including government and oil companies to be more transparent as a move towards managing expectations of citizen; and has undertaken studies in the past to demonstrate the various ways oil revenue can be invested based on the best practices from other countries

As a think-tank, what are the some of the policies that should be made to influence transparency in the oil sector
Government should expedite the completion and implementation of the communication strategy around oil and gas; adoption of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative.

What are the main issues coming out of the conference?
There is consensus that the Eastern African countries should embrace a regional approach in managing oil and gas resources for inclusive economic growth and sustainable development. There is need to design an East African Energy Master Plan.

What is the way forward after the conference?
The centre is in the Process of developing a community monitoring tool focusing on the Albertine Graben area. This process will be informed by deliberations from this Forum.

What should be done to improve dialogue on oil for the public?
There is need to strengthen communication and knowledge sharing at all levels.

What issues should the government focus on this year in terms of oil and gas?
During the 2-day deliberations on oil & gas, there has been a call for government to fast track the activities in the sector - otherwise, the on-going development might be overtaken by the development dynamics going on in the region. E.g oil discoveries in Kenya and gas in Tanzania

What is the future role for EPRC in the oil debate/dialogue?
The Centre is in the process of finalising its next four year strategic plan and natural resource management and in particular oil and gas sector is one of the thematic research areas. In other words, EPRC will continue with its mandate of providing timely evidence-based research to inform public debates/dialogues on oil and gas sector.

In addition, EPRC intends to conduct a survey in 2013 to establish the socioeconomic status of households in the Albertine region as well as the expectations of communities in the Albertine region regarding oil activities.

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