Investors or infestors : an ethical critique of the contribution of Uganda's mining sector to development, environment and society.
MetadataShow full item record
Oil and mineral extraction in Uganda is growing at a relatively fast rate. The increase in these extraction activities follows the latest discoveries of offshore oil deposits in the Albertine graben and other mineral deposits of commercial value in several parts of the country. The prospect of the mining sector particularly oil and gas to increase national wealth has therefore become central to Uganda’s long-term planning agenda Vision 2040. According to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD), mining is envisaged to be the biggest foreign exchange earner in Uganda in the coming years. It is also expected to play a large role in the future economic development of Uganda particularly through job creation, increased Gross Domestic Product, technology transfer and revenue generation for investments in development of other strategic sectors such as infrastructure and human resource development. With such prospects aimed at accelerating economic growth and development, Uganda is encouraging both domestic and foreign direct investments (FDI) mainly through privatization programs and generous incentive packages such as tax holidays and exemptions for the investors. Meanwhile, Government makes no mention of the adverse impacts of mineral exploration and production on the economy, environment and the society, yet such development projects if not properly undertaken could instead halt development. The mining sector in Uganda presents a potential for social, economic and environmental challenges. However, the positive impacts for the macro economy seem to have overshadowed all the likely negative effects on the environment and local communities. Although some studies have been conducted on Uganda’s mining sector, there are no studies conducted on the contribution of the sector to development, society and the environment from an ethical lens. This is what this study sought to do by ethically critiquing the contribution of Uganda’s mining sector to development, society and the environment. This study posits that the failure to challenge investors in the mining sector about their obligations towards both the present and future generations has resulted in the careless exploitation of Uganda’s mineral resources leaving the environment in a fragile state and leading to adverse effects on the society. It argues that mining and environmental policy and action must be informed by an understanding of factors that determine development outcomes on the economy, environment and society. The theories of sustainable development, consequentialism and stewardship comprised the ethical framework of the study. A qualitative research approach framed within a critical research paradigm and based on existing literature was employed in seeking to answer the key research question: “What are the ethical implications of the contribution of Uganda’s mining sector to development, society and the environment?” The methodology is also prescriptive in nature as it makes recommendations for a constructive way forward of ensuring sustainable mining in Uganda, which takes cognizance of economic, social and environmental concerns. The study shows that mining activities in Uganda are characterized by poor mineral resource governance, gross human rights violations and egoism by the investors. Findings point to lack of transparency, accountability, rule of law, responsiveness, participation, autonomy and decision making power as a root cause of negative outcomes of mining on the environment and the local communities. Technocentrism was also found to be the dominant approach to mineral development in Uganda where the environment is perceived as a resource to be exploited by investors. This study then proposes a holistic ethical paradigm for ensuring sustainable mining. This paradigm comprises eco-health and human rights approaches as well as the ethics of solidarity in which participation, praxis, government policy and environmental education are paramount, and where the contribution of everyone matters.