East African Community Wants to Attract More Investors

The East African Community (EAC), which is comprised of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, is going to increase its efforts to attract oil exploration companies in an attempt to find more oil to cut down on imports. To this end the EAC has decided to market the region as one block, hoping to make the area more attractive. This treaty, which was signed in 1999, provides for joint exploration and production of mineral resources.

Speaking at a conference in Nairobi, Kenya Vice-President Kijana Wamalwa said "To date no commercial discoveries of oil reserves have been made in East Africa and consequently the region has continued to rely heavily on imported petroleum," said Kenya Vice-President Kijana Wamalwa. "We must design policies and legal regimes that will attract international oil companies into the region and promote our region as one which is attractive both technically and financially."

Officials said oil exploration in the region which started in 1930s has continued intermittently with 26 wells drilled in Tanzania, 30 in Kenya and two in Uganda. Wamalwa said the low drilling density in the three countries could be the reason no oil discovery has been made so far. The 58 wells in the three countries compare to over 80 drilled in neighboring Sudan where oil is currently being produced.

Oil exploration activities have increased in the last few years in the three countries with Uganda having finished drilling its first well in 70 years while an exploration well is slated for drilling in Kenya next year for the first time since 1993. The region has so far signed 11 oil exploration licenses with international oil companies with interest from firms from Britain, Netherlands, and South Africa, Wamalwa said.