The oil and gas boom in the East African Community is getting many business owners to think out of the proverbial box by positioning themselves in areas where they will be able to harvest oil and gas money as it treks as country’s production stages.
While Tanzania is big on gas, with 57.25 trillion cubic feet, Uganda and Kenya have made big strides in oil. Uganda with about 6.5 billion barrels of crude buried in the Albertine graben and Kenya with about 800 million barrels, the East Africa is fast emerging as a top African oil and gas frontier.
While these countries have the natural resource, they lack the technical know and finances to explore, develop and produce this crude. This means huge investments coming in courtesy of international oil companies. France’s Total, Britain’s Tullow and China’s CNOOC have already doing business in the region.
However amidst all this galore, local firms and citizens must partake in this bonanza beyond the revenues governments will earn. Private businesses are strategizing to participate directly in the oil business. To enrich their capacity, local business owners in Tanzania teamed up to form Association of Tanzania Oil and Gas Service Providers (ATOGS).
They intend to use this Association to lobby and tap into the opportunities in the oil and gas industry. The Association was last week launched by Vice-President, Ms Samia Suluhu Hassan in Dar es Salaam. It brings together professionals and business entities seeking to provide services to the sector.
Indigenous East Africans can partake in the oil business at different levels but mainly as suppliers of services and good and support. Uganda and Tanzania agreed and are working towards construction of a 1445km crude export pipeline. A similar activity is being sought after in Kenya.
Tanzania has and is constructing a couple of gas pipelines. Uganda is going to build an oil refinery and other oil infrastructures like an airport, roads, oil waste storage and treatment centers, central processing units, refined storage facilities.
All these projects provide citizens with opportunities to do business with government and oil companies directly or indirectly. The Vice-President said the association came at the most opportune time where prospects of construction of an oil pipeline from Uganda to Tanga port had increased prospects of the oil and gas industry.
"You should tell us when you encounter problems of red-tapes. You should tell us also when you face corruption. We are working hard to weed them out," said Ms Hassan.
The Chairman of the association, Ambassador Ombeni Sefue, said the initiative came at the most opportune time when the government and the business communities are thinking on how best Tanzanians would benefit from gas resources.