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Training needed for huge opportunities ahead of refinery- Minister Nankabirwa

Ruth Nankabirwa launching the IEC

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Energy and Mineral Development Minister Ruth Nankabirwa has called on the oil and gas companies and training institutions to intensify the skilling of Ugandans especially small and medium enterprises ahead of the construction of the refinery.

The minister says that the refinery project is nearing being realized with the signing of the agreement between the government and the project implanting consortium due soon.

She says the crude oil supply agreement the discussions and the project implantation framework agreement were vital for the refinery project to take off.

This, as well as the construction of the pipeline, whose physical works start with the laying of the pipes in May, are a major source of opportunities for SMEs.

Nankabirwa says having the Local Content Act without putting in place measures to enable it to benefit the local Ugandans is otherwise not meaningful.

She was speaking on Tuesday at the launch of the Industrial Enhancement Centre in Kampala, a joint project between the Zoramu Consulting Group and Invest in Africa, supported by the oil and gas companies and the government.

Nankabirwa says that based on the comments she gets on Uganda’s human resources, so far the people trained have exhibited high levels of skills, and calls on the IEC to also measure up in skilling the SMEs.

TotalEnergies EP Uganda is investing 2.3 million dollars (about 9 billion shillings) under a three-year contract to operationalize the centre, which it says will go a long way in resolving the challenges that prevent maximum participation of Ugandan suppliers in the oil and gas sector.

TotalEnergies EP Uganda General Manager, Philippe Groueix says there are now very skilled companies and individuals working in and supplying the sector, most of them locally trained, but adds that more training is needed in various areas to enable more Uganda to join the value chain.

Groueix is convinced that the joint venture companies for the IEC have what it takes to do the job because they were carefully selected.

The project is set to train 300 persons per year over the next three years, selected after applying through the website, www.iec.ug.

Jimmy Mugerwa, the project director and Founder, Zoramu Consulting says the centre will address the capacity gaps that previously limited Ugandan businesses from meaningfully participating in the sector, including registration and formalization, skills, enterprise management, business pitching and standard production.

According to Mugerwa, the standards in the oil and gas sector and global and can never be compromised, which calls for the country to prepare to meet the requirements.

The idea to establish the IEC was mooted in 2013 following an Industrial Baseline Survey commissioned by TotalEnergies EP and its joint venture partners, which established the need to promote national content and capacity building for SMEs to participate in the sector.

Ernest Rubondo, the Executive Director, of the Petroleum Authority of Uganda challenged the implementers of the project to ensure that the challenges that are inhibiting Ugandans’ participation are resolved through the skills the centre will provide.

Under the National Content and internal policies of TotalEnergies, there are currently, at the peak, 8,640 Ugandans employed in the Tilenga Project Area, by the lead investor and all the contractors and subcontractors.

These represent 90 percent of the total workforce, while at least 3,400 of the workers, mainly casual and semiskilled are from the host communities in the Albertine Graben.

At the peak 170 Ugandan suppliers have been engaged by TotalEnergies EP Uganda while contractors have had a peak of 1,400 engagements with Ugandan suppliers at the Tier 2 level, which included joint ventures and micro, small and medium enterprises.

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