Local communities within the oil and gas operational areas will soon reap from supplying the Oil and Gas sector following a plan by TotalEnergies E&P Uganda to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge required.
Mr. Moses Abigaba, the stakeholder officer with TotalEnergies E&P Uganda revealed that the company will commence community supplier development forums during the first quarter of the calendar year 2022. This was during the company’s quarter four stakeholder engagements targeting women groups at the sub-county levels in Nwoya, Pakwach, Hoima, Buliisa and Kikuube districts recently.
The engagements which were held in the respective districts were attended by thirty (30) representatives per district, from the women groups, the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU), Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC), and the China National Offshore Oil Company Uganda Limited (CUL) officials from 22nd to 24th November 2021.
“The strategy to hold supplier development forums at community level will enhance the participation of local enterprises in the supply chain to the company,” Mr. Abigaba said.
The licensed Oil Companies (IOCs) in Uganda are required by law to hold supplier development forums in order to enhance local participation in the oil and gas sector. In the past, the engagements were majorly held within the central business areas in Kampala. The agenda of the forums is to ensure that the oil companies update the participants who are drawn from the business community on upcoming tender opportunities and the required standards to be implemented in order to supply goods and services to the sector.
“The supplier development engagements at community level will be the first of their kind”, noted Abigaba given the increase in the oil and gas activities within the operation areas. Mr. Abigaba said that the community supplier development forums were postponed to the next year because of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic which hindered physical meetings.
Other issues discussed during the engagements with the women groups included; updates on the land acquisition process for the various project facilities, the scholarship program, and the grievance management process. The participants were also updated on the ongoing activities in the sector including the site preparation works for the industrial area for the Tilenga Project.
Ms Jedidah Nyamwabura, the Chairperson Kigorobya Sub County, Hoima district highlighted the difficulty very small businesses like the ones the women are involved in face in acquiring the technical and financial capacity to supply the sector.
“Most of the women groups have limited capital and market exposure, please consider these so that we can all benefit,” Ms Nyamwabura requested. Other participants acknowledged the increase in economic activity and the scholarship opportunities some of their children are benefiting from.
In line with empowering businesses within the local communities to participate, plans by government of Uganda to enhance the capacity of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are underway. The project that is funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) targets about 200 MSMEs. These will benefit from the project through improving business linkages with bigger companies both at the national and international level and capacity building. The project is targeting businesses in the districts along the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).
Mr. Aggrey Mugume, the PAU’s Enterprise Development Officer encouraged the representatives of the women groups to formalize their groups so that such trainings and other capacity building initiatives by government can benefit the members.