The Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) has inaugurated a Steering Committee which among other things, will provide strategic guidance to implement the African Development Bank (AfDB) Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) business linkages project. The committee, whose term shall run for the duration of the project, has the delegated authority of the donors to make decisions in accordance with the objectives, approach and scope of the project set out in the Project Grant Agreement.

The Government of Uganda and the AfDB signed a US$500,000 grant agreement on 17th September 2020 to build the capacity of MSMEs to boost business linkages along the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) route. The project is also intended to help MSMEs along the EACOP route to access new market opportunities through creation of business linkages between MSMEs together with linkages between SMEs and large national, regional or international companies.

Dr. Joseph Kobusheshe, representing the Executive Director at the PAU expressed his optimism in building good working relations with the committee.

“It is extremely important to note that the oil and gas Sector in Uganda is broadening. In the next three to four years, a total of USD 15 billion of foreign direct investment is expected to support the development of the fields together with the midstream and support infrastructure that will lead to first oil. These investments present enormous opportunities for value addition in the country, however, taking up the opportunities will require adequate preparation. We believe that the project will benefit from your wealth of experience, and we look forward to working with you,” he said.

The steering committee constitutes 5 members including a representative from the Association of Oil and Gas Service Providers, Ministries of energy and local government and PAU.

The members are Mr. Dennis Kamurasi, Vice Chairperson, Association of the Oil and Gas Service Providers; Mr. Charles Felix Olarker, Assistant Commissioner, District Inspection, Ministry of Local Government; Mr. Steven Sherura Bainenaama, Principal Petroleum Officer, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD); Ms. Betty Namubiru, Manager, National Content, PAU who is the project coordinator; and Ms. Peninah Aheebwa, Director, Technical Support Services, PAU who is the Chairperson of the committee.

At least 200 SMEs are targeted under the project, and these will be supported in ensuring that they meet large company’s supplier criteria as well as commercial bank lending requirements.

Mr. Dennis Kamurasi said,” This is what we have been waiting for. This project will help build capacity of the ‘local local’ companies within the ten EACOP host districts. There are many areas such as supply of food stuff among others, where these companies can equally participate. We will make sure that even the local people benefit.”

Currently, the Expressions of Interest for the three main consultancies which are business development training, women and youth empowerment in business, development and delivery of business linkages have been prepared and the quarterly reports submitted. In line with the AfDB requirements, a project account in the Bank of Uganda has been opened and the project funds have been received.

Betty Namubiru, the National Content Manager at PAU said, “The discovery of oil and gas resources in the country and the planned investments are an opportunity for a significant economic upturn by creation of new jobs and business opportunities. However, the reality will be different if local MSMEs do not have the capacity and experience to participate. This explains why PAU came up with this initiative to build capacity of the local local companies in the host districts.”

The committee will be supported in its role by a Project Coordination committee at the PAU which will serve as the Secretariat of the Steering Committee as well. The coordination committee will prepare briefs, progress reports and provide all the necessary information required by the Steering Committee.

In carrying out its role, the Steering Committee will guide AfDB in the execution of the project and ensure effective oversight through the review of regular reports and results of periodic project evaluations. The committee will be supported by the AfDB country office which will oversee the work of the implementing partner and all the responsible parties.