The oil era is dawning in Uganda. It has the potential to accelerate development and drive the country's transformation into a regional – and even global – economic player. But oil also brings risks – of the erosion of the relationship between people and government, of economic distortion, of increased corruption and of internal tensions.
A well-informed, inclusive national conversation about the management options available to Uganda is vital in generating broad-based political consensus robust enough to stand up to the pressures that oil will inevitably bring
Uganda has time on its side. Though geography and the technical challenges of extracting 'waxy' on-shore oil mean that production has not yet begun, and full capacity is unlikely to be reached before 2020, the relatively slow pace of oil development is an advantage as well as a frustration.
Debate over the management of Uganda's oil is already intense in the country, and has been the subject of considerable controversy. It is incumbent on all stakeholders – government, opposition and civil society alike – to rise above the politics of today and look to the long term.