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Jan 10, 2017 | 21:55 GMT

Uganda: President Readies Son for Succession, Major Oil Project Progresses

Late Jan. 9, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni named his son a senior presidential adviser for special operations. Muhoozi Museveni, age 42, will give up his post as commander of the Ugandan army's special operations forces to fulfill his new role, which will reportedly include leading presidential security and critical military installations around the country.

It has been assumed for years that the elder Museveni, in office since 1986, is grooming his son for succession, possibly in 2021 when elections will be held. Through his father, Muhoozi has gained significant experience in Uganda's military, arguably the country's most important institution. His new role as a senior presidential adviser will provide him the experience in politics and government that will prove critical in the years ahead as President Museveni begins the process of ceding power.

As Uganda takes a small step toward political transition, its energy sector is also progressing. Gulf Interstate Engineering Company announced Jan. 9 that it would undertake the engineering design study for the Uganda-Tanzania oil pipeline project, which will stretch an estimated 1,445 kilometers (897 miles) and will cost an estimated $4 billion — a hefty price tag due to Uganda's waxy crude oil. According to reports, Uganda, Tanzania and oil companies Total SA, Tullow Oil PLC, and China National Offshore Oil Corp. will fund the eight-month study.

Meanwhile, it was announced Jan. 9 that Total SA has agreed to buy part of Tullow Oil PLC's 33.33 percent stake in all of the Lake Albert development licenses, EA1, EA1A, EA2 and EA3A. Total SA is already the operator of licenses EA1 and EA1A and will take over operations of license EA2. The purchase will reportedly enable Total SA to increase its production and boost its reserves by 2020, which will be crucial if the company is accurate in its prediction that low energy prices will eventually create a production shortage. Regardless, the pipeline project is several years away from fruition, and it will likely not begin producing oil for export until sometime in the 2020s. By then, Uganda could be going through its much-awaited presidential transition. The timing would give Museveni's chosen successor, likely his son, the funds needed to secure the support of allies and to foment political patronage.

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