A new French oil company Total E&P and the German Cooperation Agency, GIZ, yesterday announced a partnership that will see Ugandan welders attain advanced training in welding and related fabrication for the proposed crude oil export pipeline and during construction of upstream facilities in the Albertine Graben.
According to Total E&P’s general manager Adewale Fayemi, implementation of the training programme will start with at least 200 welders, as the country gears for the next phase of development leading to commercial oil production, but will continue throughout.
“These skills offered are currently not available in this part of the world,” Mr Fayemi said at the launch of the programme in Kampala.
“But what’s more is that the same skills will be required for other projects such as the refinery but once acquired, Ugandans can also work outside the country,” Mr Fayemi added.
Welding is key during the development phase as the oil companies, Total E&P and China’s CNOOC, establish facilities to pump commercial oil. The government and oil companies set an ambitious target of 2020, which many critics and some insiders say is unachievable given the lingering infrastructural gaps.
Projections show that the oil companies have to invest about Shs27 trillion ($8b) in the required infrastructure leading to production. This is besides the $4b (Shs13trn) oil refinery and a $3.5b (Shs11trn) crude oil pipeline to Tanzania. A 2014 baseline survey commissioned by the oil companies and government showed that more than 150,000 jobs are expected to be generated as the oil sector gets to eventual production. The report indicates that demand for direct jobs will rise towards the second year of development and peak at 13,000 direct jobs in the third year, before gradually falling to 3,000 jobs in the fifth year.
The survey also showed that out of the total manpower required, 15 per cent will be engineers and managers, 60 per cent technicians and craftsmen and 25 per cent people without any educational background.
Twenty five sectors were highlighted for indirect opportunities in road construction, catering, vending, furniture manufacturing, food supply, security services, manpower agencies and general maintenance, among others.
Some of the fields, according to the industry regulator—the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU), are ring fenced for Ugandans depending on their level of preparedness before being outsourced.
PAU’s executive director Ernest Rubondo yesterday said government considers the participation of Ugandans in the oil and gas sector as “a very important aspect and is taking this forward mainly from five angles such as skills development, entrepreneurship development, efficient and transparent procurement, maintaining of program of national content; and sharing of research and technology.
“Today’s event addresses aspects of this effort that is skills development and entrepreneurship development,” he added.
Total and GIZ tapped Q-Sourcing, a human resource and project management company, to offer the advanced wielding courses, particularly in the Albertine Graben. Q-Sourcing managing director Patrick Mbonye said priority will be given to individuals who have been doing rudimentary wielding for at least two years and have a certificate from any vocational institution.
Mr Mbonye said the programme will start in Lwengo District, where the oil pipeline crosses to Tanzania, and later will be rolled out in Buliisa District. He said they are working with district officials to identify the suitable individuals for the training.
The major problem for many Ugandans to get jobs in the nascent oil sector has been the perception of being qualified but yet half baked. The oil sector is so customised that you are only qualified if you are certified from a recognised institution, which ideally should be held accountable in case one’s integrity or competence on the job does not add up.