Uganda: As oil sector gets exciting, we need to protect other sectors

21 April 2016,Kampala – Things are starting to look up in the oil industry. After more than three years of delays, Uganda’s oil industry is starting to witness the kind of decisions that should excite the market.

crude oil barrels4

Crude oil barrels

A decision on a crude oil export pipeline from Hoima to an East African coast could come soon; the signing of the final paperwork of the refinery is within sight; and Uganda’s government has already put in place the legislation and the institutions mandated to govern the oil industry, all of which should be able to attract more investors in the market.

The Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum has been at the forefront of pushing for mutual collaboration between the oil companies, the contractors in the service industry and government. As an association of private companies, the UCMP has held numerous engagements between the three different parties to lobby for decisions that create mutual benefit.

The chamber has partnered institutions of education to undertake trainings, held meetings with government authorities to break barriers such as bureaucracy, and made input on crucial areas such as standards that the Uganda Bureau of Standards is trying to institute for oil and gas machinery.

However, despite all this, few initiatives excite the UCMP such as advocating for deeper local content within the oil and gas industry. For an industry valued at more than $100 billion, Uganda’s oil and gas sector has the potential to turn around this country like no other resource.

But that will not be achieved unless the local contractors are prepared, and that the business environment is conducive enough for them to thrive.

When it comes to the oil and gas sector, Uganda’s local businessmen are playing a totally different ball-game. Information remains closely-guarded; the oil companies’ attention to detail and international standards cannot be shaken; the money needed to make supplies to the industries is neither cheap nor readily available; and the shortage of local skills and manpower is still a problem.

All these barriers call for urgent action on almost all fronts. There is need for more commitment from the oil companies to issue out as much detailed information as possible on their investment plans, obviously placing more emphasis for local suppliers where possible.

– The Observer
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