The politics of governing oil after ‘best-practice’ reforms: Can ‘pockets of effectiveness’ survive within Uganda's political settlement? – Hickey and Izama (2019)


This paper explores whether best-practice reforms are suitable for positive development outcomes within developing countries such as Uganda, due to the changes in the political settlement dynamics that the country has seen in recent years. Uganda has often adopted a rules-based approach to oil governance. In 2013, however, Uganda’s oil sector undertook significant institutional reforms, in line with best-practice. The reforms established new entities to ensure that the policy, regulatory and commercial dimensions of the oil sector were handled separately. This paper investigates these institutional reforms in Uganda and attempts to establish whether best-practice reforms have succeeded.  It shows that, contrary to received wisdom, these best practice reforms actually have gone with the grain of Uganda’s political settlement.  However, it also shows how they have led to oil governance becoming more fragmented. Tensions due to these reforms are shown by Hickey and Izama to have weakened the coherence of oil governance in Uganda and undermined its ability to undertake policy reforms.