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EU Commissioner Urpilainen Says TZ, Uganda Free to Decide Energy Solutions

But insists that the EU does not finance fossil fuels in its partner countries.

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Dar es Salaam. European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said Wednesday that Tanzania and Uganda have every right to decide their energy solutions.

Ms Urpilainen, who arrived in Tanzania on Tuesday for an official visit, made the remarks during an interview with journalists that took place today, October 26, 2022, at the Kilimanjaro Hotel in the city.

“We respect the sovereignty of Uganda and Tanzania,” Ms Urpilainen, who served as the Minister of Finance of Finland from 2011 to 2014, said during the interview. “Countries have the independence to decide their energy solution.”

Urpilainen’s clarification comes hot on the heels of “neo-colonialism” accusations that senior government officials in Uganda and Tanzania have leveled against the European Union (EU) parliament following its resolution on the controversial East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).

The EACOP is a 1,443km, 24-inch diameter heated and buried crude oil pipeline that will start from Kabaale, Hoima in Uganda to Chongoleani, Tanga in Tanzania.

While Tanzania and Uganda say the pipeline is important for their respective development efforts, human rights activists and environmentalists warn that the project not only poses danger to the environment but also to local communities and their culture.

Passed on September 14, 2022, the resolution expressed the European Parliament’s concerns about the project, which include human rights and environmental concerns.

The response from both Uganda and Tanzania was swift.

Two days after the motion was passed, Tanzania’s Energy Minister January Makamba was quoted as saying that Tanzania, like other nations of the world, is entitled to use its resources the same way industrialised countries do for their people.

In Uganda, the parliament slammed the “racist” EU resolution, accusing the body of accusing them of “economic sabotage, racism and interference.”

But on Wednesday, while she admitted that there were concerns raised by some stakeholders regarding the pipeline, Ms Urpilainen emphasised that the EU respects the sovereignty of Tanzania and Uganda.

The green agenda is one of the EU’s core priorities with Tanzania, in the 426 million euro commitment set for the year 2021 to 2024, the EU has allocated 200 million euros for the green agenda.

The commitment and allocation are in line with the EU’s goal to become a carbon-neutral continent by the year 2050.

“We do not finance fossil fuel energy in partner countries,” Ms Urpilainen explained to journalists who met her at the hotel. “We want to support our African partners in investing in renewable energy.”

When asked about the practicality of the green agenda while the EU is still exploring fossil fuel solutions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the fallout, Ms Urpilainen explained that the EU has been dependent on Russia for energy but the block has learned that it cannot rely on Russia.

She further explained that member states have been working on responding to the acute energy crisis but the commitments remain.

While Tanzania had reported its plan to send clarification to the EU parliament, Ms Urpilainen agrees there is a need for dialogue but also more clarification, especially on understanding the different roles of EU institutions.

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