8 January 2013

Uganda: Experts Want Local Policy On Oil

Industry experts have called for a local content policy on oil that defines the arrangement under which locals will benefit from the sector.

Andrew Byaruhanga, the programme manager at International Alert, told The Observer recently that such a policy would clearly indicate the percentage in terms of employment and service delivery the locals would get.

"Now like at exploration stage, we can say maybe 20% of the labour should be provided by the locals, in the production stage midstream we should say maybe 50%, and as such currently we don't have this percentage anywhere," he said.

Byaruhanga says people are currently employed as and when the jobs become available, adding that there is a need for the policy to provide for partnering on goods and services.

"It should be made clear that these international firms if they are to come here, they should partner with these local firms such that people can participate in this oil industry," he said.

He said this would guard against oil companies importing food and other basic services, thereby denying locals a chance to earn. Nwoya district chairperson Patrick Okello Oryema advised the locals and leaders to improve their standards to benefit from the oil resource.

"Currently many people still use the hand hoes and this may affect supply in the future, but what could build the residents' capacity would be high mechanization of the agricultural practices and sensitization," he said.

Jackie Aromorach, a resident of Amuru and a mother of two, argues that many locals would only benefit from the oil industry if they were educated.

"They say our children did not study sciences, but why don't they provide the children with free science education, because currently these children are being taught in schools with poor science facilities but they expect them to pass sciences," she said.

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