Some of the Ugandans living along the East African crude oil pipeline route are to be trained in how to exploit the immense opportunities that the sector is about to present.
The Petroleum Authority has come up with a plan to boost the capacity of some people in the 10 districts that the pipeline will pass.
"This is a project to enable local business enterprises benefit from the very big job, which is going to be done in laying the pipeline which is going to be taking Uganda's crude oil from here to Tanzania," Ernest Rubondo, the executive director of the Petroleum Authority, said while launching the project in Mubende recently.
The PAU of Uganda (PAU) has partnered with the ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and the Albertine Graben Oil and Gas Districts Association (AGODA) to undertake this business linkage project, which is aimed at helping local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) along the EACOP route.
The project will help develop capacity and enhance market access for new opportunities. The project will be in the districts of Hoima, Kikuube, Mubende, Gomba, Kakumiro, Kyankwanzi, Rakai, Sembabule, Lwengo and Kyotera.
Rubondo also noted that a lot of progress is being made towards the commencement of the construction of the pipeline and that the agreements between the shareholders of the pipeline - Uganda National Oil Company and Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation - are expected to be concluded in the first quarter of this year.
The African Development Bank AfDB has offered a $500,000 grant to the project. At least 80 per cent of the grant will go towards capacity building of these MSMEs, while the 20 per cent will address the administration aspects. Juliet Byaruhanga, the private sector operations manager at AfDB, said: "The project we are launching is targeted at developing the capacity of local Ugandan MSMEs, which will enable them access new market opportunities and build linkages with larger national, regional and international companies."
She added that the project aims to support inclusive private sector growth and the creation of an estimated 500 jobs along the pipeline route; have at least 100 micro businesses in Uganda and Tanzania do businesses on the pipeline project; as well as have at least 70 business linkages memorandums of understandings signed between the enterprises and relevant business transactions to be able to deliver services.
The two-year project will see at least 200 MSMEs selected and taken through a training programme. At the end of the project, 100 local MSMEs will also be formalized for the purposes of doing business, and also increase on the number of companies joining the national supplier database of Uganda, especially from the EACOP districts.
Betty Namubiru, PAU's national content manager, said that although PAU is undertaking the project, they are going to hire a consultant firm which will determine the process of how the 200 MSMEs are going to be selected, and also carry out the training of the enterprises and creation of business linkages. Interested consultancy firms will be required to bid for the job.