Baz Waiswa

Baz Waiswa

Museveni, Magufuli Tee Off Oil Pipeline Construction

The presidents of Uganda and Tanzania teed off the construction of the 1,445 km East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) with a promise that the infrastructure will boost the Foreign Direct Investment of both countries.

The Joint Venture partners; CNOOC Uganda Limited, Total E&P Uganda and Tullow Uganda are spearheading the construction of $3.5billion pipeline which will be the longest electronically heated crude export pipeline.

The venture partners said the project, which will transport crude from Hoima in western Uganda to the coastal port of Tanga in Tanzania, would open up the entire East African region to further opportunities for trade and socio – economic development.

Tanzania’s President, John Pombe Magufuli called on the Joint Venture partners to treat the construction of the pipeline with urgency. We don’t need to delay the completion of the project for almost three years. They can do it even night and day to ensure the project is completed as quickly as possible. Act with big speed and make sure you finish this project before 2020,” Magufuli said.

Uganda estimates to have oil reserves at 6.5 billion barrels, while recoverable reserves are estimated to be 1.7 billion barrels. Uganda will use the pipeline to export her crude to the world while Tanzania will use the same pipeline to export her gas to Uganda.

The pipeline will create about 10,000 to 15,000 direct jobs while temporary jobs will peak to 30,000. Hotels, food and beverages suppliers will benefit from this project.

The Joint Venture partners said they will embark on a journey of detailed planning and execution complimenting the already ongoing studies such as Environment and Social Impact Assessments and Front End Engineering Design for the EACOP project. A FEED study for the project was launched in Kampala early this year.

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda said the pipeline is not just for ‘Uganda's crude oil’ but an ‘East African pipeline’. “There are already hydrocarbon resources in Eastern Congo, Turkana and possibilities in Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. All these can be served by this pipeline,” he said.  

He said Uganda has 6.5 billion barrels of oil so far in 40% of the potential area. He confirmed that Uganda will have a refinery to produce petrol, diesel, aviation fuel, other petro-chemicals like plastics and associated gas for electricity and composite agriculture.

“I thank Tanzania for this positive collaboration on the pipeline and ask that we do more collaborations. I look forward to HE Magufuli's visit to Uganda where he will lay a foundation stone in Hoima.” Museveni said. 

UCMP Schedules Skilling Convention To Boost Local Content

Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (UCMP) will on September 20, 2017 in Kampala hold its first skilling convention. The convention is targeting at supplementing what private companies are doing in equipping Ugandans with necessary skills to work in the oil industry especially in the development phase.

“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 Patrick Mweheire, the Stanbic Bank Chief Executive Officer during a meeting with the Chamber council to which he is the vice chairperson.

The chamber announced it 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.

Dr Elly Karuhanga, UCMP Chairman said: they 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.”

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.

COURT DEFENCE: Sudhir Says He Did Not Commit Any Fraud As Alleged In Crane Bank Case

The battle lines are now drawn following a defense filed late Thursday by businessman Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia contesting the fraud charges brought against him by Bank of Uganda, also the nation’s central bank, which regulates and monitors operations of all commercial banks and other financial institutions in the country.

The central bank filed the case at the commercial court, claiming how Ruparelia allegedly fraudulently took a total of Ushs400Bn from his defunct Crane Bank. Arguably the most successful businessman in the country, Ruparelia created Crane Bank in 1995 going on to oversee the growth of one of the most profitable indigenous banks.

The tycoon has since tasked the central bank led by Governor Tumusiime Mutebile to prove the fraud charges they are talking about, saying what they filed in court are mere conjectures and idle talk that makes it impossible for him to file a meaningful defence.

“…the first defendant (Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia) shall contend that he did not commit any frauds as alleged or at all and shall put the plaintiff (Crane Bank/Bank of Uganda) to strict proof. The first defendant further denies any extraction of money from the plaintiff as alleged or at all and contends that he is not liable to refund or account for any monies as alleged by the plaintiff,” reads part of the Written Statement of Defence filed in court.

After studying the central bank’s case for close to two weeks, Ruparelia’s lawyers trading under the eminent Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA) has filed his defence on Thursday afternoon and that of Meera Investments under which the tycoon owns and runs hundreds of prime properties in the city center and beyond it.

The Kampala Associated Advocates in their defence say ‘Sudhir denies any fraudulent transfer of property under his direction or at all and further denies breach of any fiduciary duty’. Similarly, the second defendant, Meera Investment, denies ‘all the claims made’ and ‘contends that the plaintiff is not entitled to any of the reliefs claimed as alleged or at all’.

“The defendants shall aver that the plaintiff has no cause of action against them as alleged or at all,” the defence document states. It adds, “the defendants shall contend that the plaintiff has no locus standi to sue on the claims set out in the plaint and has cause of action against them.”

Ruparelia oversaw Crane Bank grow from a bank with one branch in 1995 to 46 operational branches in 2016; servicing over six hundred thousand customer at the time the BOU took over its management. During this time Crane Bank’s assets grew to Ushs1.8trillion as confirmed in the 2015 annual audited report by KPMG.

Crane Bank profits grew substantially year on year and maintained a stable and health portfolio of performing assets over the years, developments Bank of Uganda as regulators of the banking sector gave green lights. The commercial bank was employing more than 700 employees some of whom lost their jobs when the central bank sold it to dfcu.

In the defence document, it is stated that the Non-Performing Loan ratio only grew substantially as a result of a significant slowdown in the economy, which affected business operation of large borrowers thus eroding the Crane Bank’s core capital, a situation that was experienced by other financial institutions in Uganda.

Ruparelia who says he ran Crane Bank at an average operating cost of Ushs90billion as per year is tasking Bank of Uganda to disclose all the operating costs that the receiver has incurred since the takeover. The businessman is also tasking the central bank to disclose how much dfcu paid them before Crane Bank assets where transferred to them.

The case file has since been handed to the head of the commercial court Justice David Wangutusi to hear and dispose of.

A full report will be filled in the coming few hours.


Students Showcase ICT potential At Victoria University ICT Challenge

Ten Schools battled it out for bragging rights at the inaugural Victoria University Youth ICT Challenge which was hosted by Kampala Parents School on Saturday. The daylong event was supported by Lighthouse Television.

The objective of the challenge was to position Victoria University as a unique provider of practical, innovative ICT skills for development. The Challenge brought together different professionals in the ICT world to guide the youngsters.

Participating students showcased their creative ICT innovations like Mobile Apps, web portals, hardware engineering and the use of ICT in finding solutions in the health, agriculture and education sectors.

Nabisunsa High School showcased their Dagala App, a health project (dagala national hospital) which aims at providing key disease information, prescription of medicine and disease symptoms. Nabisunsa also showcased an App, EdHub which collects and provides revision notes of selected subjects to students.

Luzira SS presented Home is Paradise App which connects architects, land lords, home builders to promote appropriate buildings in society, improve quality of services to a global scale, create jobs and eliminate brokers.

Gayaza High School’s App, Diabeat –IT, which helps fight diabetes, was eye catching. It has a chat room - you can ask questions. With the App, you can monitor the type of food to eat and eating habits. Students said they want to make the App a global app addressing various diseases.  

Bishop Cyprian Kihangire presented the EduApp which provides ‘free education’. The App has cloud storage functionality. The App has a text book data base, syllabus coverage ‘making life easier at school’. Kalinabiri SS showcased their App, Mobile Cardiologist, designed to address issues related to cardiovascular illnesses.

Some schools like St Mark Namagoma innovated physical equipment (hardware) to support their mobile Apps. St Mark the eventual winners of the challenge presented the Farmers Machine which aims at boosting farm inputs.

The dean of ICT at Victoria University Terry Kahuma described the innovations presented by the youngsters as ‘very very good’ while the acting vice chancellor of the university encouraged students to use ICTs to access information.

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