Local content, corruption, dominate opening day of COMESA Oil and Gas Summit
The COMESA Oil and Gas Summit opened in Kampala today, with speakers calling on the government and oil companies to recruit more Ugandans in the oil and gas industry, but also eradicate corruption.
“We want this business to benefit the locals and that is why we are promoting it. Ugandans have the brains, they have the skills. If you partner with the locals, you have a greater chance of succeeding compared to doing business otherwise,” Hon. Henry Banyezanki, Uganda’s junior Minister for Economic Monitoring told about two hundred delegates at the summit.
“I appeal to potential investors in the oil industry to partner with and support local content,” he urged.
Elly Karuhanga, the President of Tullow in Uganda and Chairman of the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, decried the severe shortage of skilled oil and gas manpower in Africa. “I was attending a conference in Houston and someone from Schlumberger showed us figures that in Africa alone, there is a shortage of 11,000 petro-professionals. This is a gap which Africa needs to fill,” he said.
Corruption is bad for business
Several speakers commended Uganda’s “impressive” economic development, but warned that rampant corruption in government departments was threatening further progress.
“American companies want to do business in Uganda, but they can only do so if there is a level playing field ensured by policies that enshrine good governance and transparency,” said Ruth Gallant, a commercial officer at the U.S Embassy in Kampala.
“The disease of corruption violates the basic trust between citizens and the government and causes investors to turn their backs on Uganda, seeking destinations where bribery, kickbacks and other forms of corruption are not the subtext of negotiation,” she noted.
In his remarks, the Norwegian Ambassador to Uganda, Thorbjon Gaustadsaether, urged government to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), in order to ensure transparency in the oil and gas sector.
It attracted delegates from Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Europe.
By Oil in Uganda staff