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Uganda gears up for oil local content participation

St. Simon Peter’s Vocational Training center in Hoima district has become the latest point of attraction as a number of youth train in oil and gas related activities ahead of the country’s plans of being an oil producer.

Local engineering firms, in partnership with international organisations and government, are developing programmes to train students to take advantage of opportunities in the oil and gas sector. 

According to the country director of German Agency for International Development Cooperation (GIZ), Christian Schnurre, a key funder of the project, the biggest challenge for the engineering curriculum, specifically that which targets the oil and gas sector, is that it requires highly skilled personnel such as welders, electricians and scaffolders, who are rare to find.

“The current university degrees do not prepare many Ugandans for employment. The link between schooling and the world of work is currently very weak. What we have is an alumni network of unemployed academics,” Schnurre said during the official launch of the Youth Employment Enhancement Project (YEEP) in Hoima last week.

YEEP is being implemented by the Assessment and Skilling Center, the training arm of Q-Sourcing Limited. The project has defined key activities geared towards skilling labour and supporting the development of local industries. Q-Sourcing is a manpower service provider for companies. 

Schnurre said: “As GIZ, our contribution to creating the missing link between the job market and the training world is through vocational training. This, we will do, by getting involved with young Ugandans and delivering skilling programmes for students to be prepared for employment.”

At St. Simon Peter’s Vocational Training center in Hoima district, some 220 craftsmen and women are to get training in oil-related skills such as welding. Currently, at least 20 candidates have been trained in high-level welding that oil and gas firms usually demand for. An additional 50 candidates are yet to be trained.

Besides direct training of craftspeople, the project also intends to increase the capacity of the host school with a long-term goal being to produce certified technicians whose qualifications meet internationally recognized standards, according to GIZ.

Uganda is preparing for the development stage of its oil industry. The construction of a 1,445km oil pipeline from Hoima to Tanga port in Tanzania is yet to commence after President Museveni and Tanzania’s John Pombe Magufuli signed an inter-governmental pact for the project. 

According to the acting director at the directorate of petroleum, Robert Kasande, drawing up of engineering designs for the pipeline is going on in France, which will inform government on what equipment will be needed, and the human resource.

“In regard to the refinery, we are on course to get a lead investor who will partner with government to develop a 60,000 barrels per day refinery at Kabaale, Buseruka in Hoima district. All these infrastructures and the upstream developments that we are working on are on course for a final investment decision to be taken around the first quarter of next year, with a quest of us producing our oil at the end of 2020.”

The refinery project is expected to stand on 29 square kilometers of land.

alitwaha@observer.ug

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