The Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (UCMP) is going to dedicate most of its efforts towards skilling of Ugandans and advocating for local content in the Oil & Gas industry, as the country intensifies arrangements to achieve First Oil by 2020.
These two issues were the main areas of focus as the new UCMP council kicked off its tenure, at a meeting hosted by Patrick Mweheire, the Stanbic Bank, Chief Executive and also the new Vice Chairman of the Chamber on Thursday July 27.
“Before any oil gets out of the ground, a lot of money is going to be invested in the economy – somewhere between $10 to – $15 billion. That is almost 50% of Uganda’s GDP. So the questions we have to grapple with are, ‘What can we do as a Chamber to unblock particular areas that will allow us to harness this opportunity?’ and ‘What are the challenges in our way?’ amongst others,” said Mweheire.
Being an emerging industry in the country, the oil and gas industry remains heavily dependent on foreign labour as Ugandans slowly come to grips with its demands. With one of its core functions being to promote, encourage, protect and foster responsible exploration and service delivery in the extractive sectors, the UCMP intends to use its wide reach to help as many Ugandans as possible to work in the country’s oil and gas industry through skilling.
“There is a lack of depth in a numbers of very remedial skills along the value chain whether it’s driving, welding, fabricating, name it. These gaps can be filled with skilling and training and a little bit of guidance,” noted Mweheire.
As such the UCMP will hold its first skilling convention on September 20, to supplement what some companies have already been doing, albeit at individual company level.
The event, which the Education Minister, Janet Museveni is expected to grace, will be open to everyone, including the private and public stakeholders plus the donor community. The UCMP will participate in a similar skilling forum in Tanzania in January, 2018.
Related to skilling is the Local or National Content concern, described legally in Uganda as “the substantial combined value added or created in the Ugandan economy through the utilisation of Ugandan human and material resources for the provision of goods and services to the petroleum industry in Uganda.”
Dr Elly Karuhanga, UCMP Chairman said: “We have to figure out how to keep a significant percentage of the oil investments in Uganda. The Chamber will continue to engage the state, through a special committee, to ensure that the upcoming Local Content law addresses all our concerns so that many Ugandans can participate in the sector.”
According to the 2014 Industrial Baseline Survey (IBS), titled, “A survey to foster opportunities for Ugandans in the Oil and Gas sector”, Uganda’s petroleum sector will generate 100,000 to 150,000, direct and indirect jobs.
The survey identified limited information, lack of skills, poor infrastructures, and administrative bureaucracy among others, as some of the barriers that would hamper Ugandans from working in the sector.
It also revealed that only 25 industries of the 420 surveyed in Uganda had high potential to supply the sector.
Recently, the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) released a list of 293 entities which had been successfully verified and qualified to be on the 2017 National Supplier Database for Uganda’s oil and gas sector.
A total of 753 entities submitted applications before the closing date of May 15, 2017; with 501 of the applications received from companies registered in Uganda and 252 from companies registered in 32 countries outside Uganda.
Karuhanga also reiterated the calls for the creation of a Fund to help advance cheap loans to Ugandans that seek to participate in the highly capital intensive sector.
The new council, he added, was also looking forward to organizing a successful 6th annual Mineral Wealth Conference, due on October 4, 2017.
These will form some of the discussions during the monthly networking sessions that UCMP members will host, after Stanbic.
Other key upcoming monthly meetings are the Oil & Gas Round Table Meetings that the UCMP will organize and coordinate in partnership with the Joint Venture Partners, CNOOC Uganda Ltd, TOTAL E&P Uganda and Tullow, Uganda Operations Pty Ltd. The main objective of these high level engagements is to facilitate dialogue and lay out clear strategies to fast-track developments in the oil and gas sector.