Dr. Fred Kabagambe Kaliisa, the Senior Presidential Advisor on Oil, Gas and Minerals has asked the people of Bunyoro to seize the immense opportunities in the oil and gas sector.
Substantial deposits of oil and gas have been confirmed in Bunyoro region and preparations for drilling, refining and exportation are underway.
"As a region we have a comparative advantage over other regions because we will host major support infrastructure for the sector, such as the refinery and Uganda's second international airport," Kaliisa also the former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development said.
He made the remarks during the first Regional National Content Conference for suppliers in the Oil and Gas Sector at the Hoima Resort Hotel, Hoima on 12th March, 2019. The conference was organised by the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU).
"We need to prepare and get ready for these opportunities because the Oil and Gas sector will not wait for us. Do not wait until it is too late for you to participate, the time is now", Kaliisa said.
The objective of the conference was to engage and disseminate information to companies, organised groups, individuals and entities on the opportunities in the oil and gas sector, given the strategic positioning of the region. It was attended by over 400 participants.
Peninah Aheebwa, the PAU's Director Technical Support & Services said government supports local content. Aheebwa said the Local Content Policy, 2018, had been passed by Cabinet in June 2018.
"As a region you should position yourselves and enter joint venture partnerships that can enable you compete with others to retain a significant part of the $20b expenditure planned in the next three to five years," said Aheebwa.
She said 35 companies from the Albertine region are registered on the National Suppliers Database (NSD) hence the need to see that more are registered. The registration was the first step in meeting the aspiration to supply goods and services to the oil and gas activities in Uganda.
According to Aheebwa, the Petroleum Authority of Uganda will conduct registration clinics during March 2019 in Hoima (11th to 15th March), Buliisa (18th to 22nd) and Nwoya (25th to 30th) districts to support the registration of companies and individuals on the NSD and the NOGTR (National Oil and Gas Talent register) so that the chances of getting business and employment in the sector are increased.
The first clinic in Hoima saw registration of 14 entities on the NSD and 165 individuals on the NOGTR.
Betty Namubiru, Manager National Content from the Petroleum Authority of Uganda presented the Progress of Implementation of National Content in the Oil and Gas Sector in Uganda. She said there are initiatives in place to support Ugandans' participation in oil and gas activities. These include a focus on enterprise development, employment and capacity building.
"The petroleum laws give Ugandan companies a 10% edge in bid evaluation scores under oil and gas procurements provided they clearly spell out; the proposals for employment of Ugandans, opportunities for use of Ugandan goods and services and capacity building among others," Namubiru said.
The law provides 16 categories of goods and services that are ring fenced for Ugandans, some of these services include, transportation, civil works, environment management, hotel and catering services and clearing and forwarding, Ugandans should therefore prepare to cease opportunities in these already earmarked areas,
Commenting on skilling for the oil and gas industry, Kenneth Rwambula, the Business Development Officer of Q-Sourcing revealed that they had trained a number of Ugandans who are earning from the skills obtained as they wait for the anticipated jobs in the industry.
"When we realised that our graduates were going to be idle after training due to minimal work in the industry, we pooled them together and we now bid for big contracts as a company as we wait for the construction work", Rwambula said.
He said the Uganda Petroleum Institute Kigumba (UPIK) has received International accreditation, although the enrolment into the institute was still low standing at 86 students per year.
The total number so far of trained students stands at 141 since the institute was opened and yet the industry requires over 900 technicians for the upcoming projects, Rwambula said.
Various experts who spoke advised local companies to diversify their markets to ensure sustainability. They were urged to strive to meet the required industry standards through training, certification, partnerships and joint ventures.
Farmers were urged to join or form farmer groups to build capacity to be able to meet the demand and standards of the International Oil Companies.
Participants urged oil companies to ensure that standards are published and widely disseminated. Failure to meet the required standards was cited as one of the reasons why local companies are not contracted.