Energy and the use of natural resources is key to Africa’s growth and development, so specialist, practical studies like the LLM in Oil and Gas Law and Policy from the University of Dundee are hugely valuable, says Ali Ssekatawa who completed his Masters’ part-time while practising.
Ssekatawa was part of the team negotiating and advising on the Intergovernmental Agreement, Host Government Agreement, and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) (Special Provisions) Act, which was passed by the Ugandan Parliament in December to enable the implementation of the $4 billion East African Crude Oil Project.
“I should say probably 60% of the people on the Ugandan team in that room were Dundee people,” Ssekatawa revealed, emphasising that his Dundee notes were very handy in helping them in the negotiation and preparation of this legal framework.
The President of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, acknowledged the team’s work, tweeting, “I congratulate our Ugandan team, they are good negotiators. We now have a good petroleum team in terms of science, economics.”
Ssekatawa became Director for Legal and Corporate Affairs for PAU while studying at Dundee from 2016 to 2019, having originally been inspired to undertake the LLM while working as head of litigation at the Uganda Revenue Authority.
In that role he was exposed to fiscal and arbitration issues arising from the energy industry, and utilised the work of Dundee faculty professors Peter Cameron and Pieter Bekker, and Dr William Onorato of the Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law & Policy (CEPMLP).
“I thought it would be good to have a full understanding of the oil and gas industry, especially from the authorities themselves,” explained Ssekatawa. “It was quite rewarding having conversations with faculty who are authorities on some of the cutting edge issues in oil and gas. Our group of students were practitioners from various parts of the world. It was very good to hear different perspectives, some from mature oil producing areas, some from new producers and others from the government or the private sector.”
In fact, said Ssekatawa, if he’d had the opportunity, he would have done it earlier.
As Uganda and its East African neighbours shift from exploration to production, Ssekatawa says the practical nature of his postgraduate studies at Dundee has been invaluable. He noted that for young African lawyers interested in the vital, growing energy sector, postgraduate studies at the University of Dundee should be considered for personal growth reasons as well as practical career ones.
“It exposes you to professors who’ve specialised both practically and theoretically in these areas; they have seen the real world,” he said. “Africa still has a lot of resources. The opportunities in terms of exploiting those resources in a very sustainable manner are there, and therefore it will be very good if you're a young career lawyer to consider taking this course in the early periods of your career.”
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