The Government of Uganda through the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) and the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) has launched a $500,000 project to enhance the capacity of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) targeting businesses along the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) route.
The project is funded by a grant from the African Development Bank (ADB). The grant was provided in response to a request from Uganda and Tanzania for assistance in preparing local business communities to be able to retain a portion of the $3.5 billion investment in the construction of the EACOP.
The pipeline will start in Hoima in western Uganda, traverse ten (10) districts in Uganda and go through Tanzania to the coastal town of Tanga.
The project’s overall objective is to help develop capacity of local Uganda MSMEs along the EACOP, by enabling them to access new market opportunities, and building linkages with larger, national, regional and international companies.
The project aims to support inclusive private sector growth and the creation of an estimated five hundred (500) jobs along the pipeline.
The project was launched in Mubende district by Mr. Emmanuel F. Mugunga, who represented the Permanent Secretary, MEMD. Mr. Mugunga noted that the EACOP has raised the expectation of a significant economic upturn and creation of jobs.
“However, the reality will be different if local MSMEs do not have the capacity and experience to participate in oil and gas activities. We believe that MSMEs have a major impact on economic growth, income and employment,” he said.
Mr. Mugunga also emphasised that in addition to the technical skills enhancement, capacity building for these businesses should focus on the soft skills like customer care, hospitality, client retention and referrals.
He also noted the need to address the mind set of the enterprises to appreciate and work towards achieving the specifics needs of the oil and gas project.
The project aims at supporting the communities that will benefit from opportunities presented by the oil and gas industry development and support alternative sources of livelihood to improve their wellbeing.
This intervention is in line with the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between Uganda and Tanzania that was signed in 2017 to promote cooperation in the development of the pipeline and enhance participation of the pipeline host communities.
Ms. Juliet Byaruhanga, the Senior Private Sector Officer at ADB who represented the Country Manager re-echoed the bank’s commitment to supporting Uganda actualise her development strategies. She called upon the district leadership and technocrats to provide the necessary support for the seamless implementation of the project.
Mr. Ernest Rubondo, the Executive Director of the PAU, noted that the project is in line with the PAU’s mandate of ensuring national participation by Ugandans in the oil and gas activities in order to create lasting value. The two (02) year project commenced on 17th September, 2020 with the signing of the Grant Treaty between Government of Uganda and ADB and will end in 2022.
The ten (10) districts that will benefit from the project include Mubende, Hoima, Gomba, Kyotera, Rakai, Lwengo, Kikuube, Kakumiro, Sembabule and Kyankwanzi. In her remarks, Ms. Mary Baguma Nyakwera, the Resident District Commissioner for Mubende district acknowledged that the proper implementation of the project will improve household incomes.
“The project success will indeed go a long way in ensuring community development,” she said.