The much excitement that came as a result of oil and gas discovery in Uganda may be short lived if communities are not prepared to grab the opportunities that come with the discovery.
The oil companies have finally disclosed that the exploration and production of oil and gas in Uganda will not directly provide many jobs to meet expectations of unemployed youth and urged them to engage in activities aiming at becoming service providers instead of job seekers.
Jimmy Kiberu, the corporate affairs manager of Tullow Uganda said that the sector will only provide 10,000 jobs which is a drop in the ocean.
“People have many expectations of getting jobs in the oil sector unfortunately we will only employee 10,000 people. My appeal is that engage in service provision in order to benefit from the sector indirectly,” Kiberu said.
Kiberu was on Thursday during the Rwenzori region stakeholder’s consultative meeting on oil and gas at Mountains of the moon hotel in Kabarole district organized by Kabarole Research and Resource center.
Kiberu said that the sector is a technical area which needs high skilled personnel which Uganda is lacking.
“The challenge is that we cannot employ anyone from the street, the sector needs technical people with high skills to handle the sector. It’s unfortunate a few Ugandans c have the qualifications to do the work,” he said.
Grace Kanoni said that Tullow Uganda has not involved the communities in their planning activities a reason to why they are getting a negative reception from the community.
“You never involved us at the beginning, you are just coming to tell us what you have already done that’s why the community is giving a cold reception,” Kanoni said.
Moses Balinda from Ntoroko district said that the communities in Rwebisengo where oil and gas has been discovered are still confused of the criteria which Tullow Uganda will use to compensate them.
The director of Kabarole Research and Resource Center Julius Mwanga said that the issue oil and gas is no longer a dream to Ugandans, adding that its high time people in the region take a keen interest to a deeper understanding the sector in order to benefit from it.
Richard Rwabuhinga, the Kabarole district LCV chairman said that the discovery of oil and gas will determine the destiny of Uganda, but was quick to add that this does not necessary translate to development rather than the readiness to use the resources effectively.
“Let us be mindful of the fact that mere discovery of oil does not necessary translate to development, it is rather the readiness to use the resources optimally, prudently and objectively to achieve the vision of developing our nation,” Rwabuhinga said.
He noted that the main economic activity of Rwenzori and Bunyoro regions is agriculture and there is need for people to produce more food to meet the increasing demanding that has come with the exploration of oil and gas.
Rwabuhinga however expressed his concerns on environment impact that is oil and gas production is likely to cause.
“If not handled well, mining of gas and oil can lead to environment degradation. I call upon the oil companies involved to be mindful and protect the environment of the new and nascent oil and gas sector,” he said.
Gloria Sebikali, from the ministry of energy and mineral development said that 65 exploration and appraisal wells were drilled but only 58 were found to have oil.
Sebikali said the ministry is planning to use crude oil to generate power so that they can reduce the problem of power shortage in the country.