Saturday February 18 2012

Experts tip Uganda on setting up oil-related industries

By Abdu Kiyaga

Uganda will have to strive and establish a petrochemical industry if it is to earn so much from the oil industry, scholars have said.

The academia, under Institute for National Transformation Alumni Association of Uganda (INT), say establishing a petrochemical industry will mean diversification of products manufactured from the off seals of oil products such as plastics, fertilisers and glass among others thus creating more employment opportunities and reducing foreign dependence.

Prof. Ajee Mamman, an oil and gas consultant in Scotland said in a key note speech delivered during a public lecture at Makerere University on Thursday that it is through setting up of different industries that will see oil-rich African countries shift from intellectual dependence.

“The problem Africa is facing is failure to lay firm ground for capacity building and because of this, we always depend on Mzungu (Westerner) who will charge us any price they like and this leads to loss of revenue that would have been kept home,” Prof. Mamman said.

He also said that Uganda should identify areas of competitive advantage so that it rides ahead of its neighbours hence becoming a key player in the oil business. Being a land-locked country, Prof. Mamman said, it would mean extra expenses to export Uganda’s locally-made material and to reduce such expenses “the country will have to manufacture a variety of products.”

INT is a Ugandan non-governmental organisation whose purpose is to develop leaders of integrity, respect and compassion. It also operates in Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa.

Two weeks ago, Uganda signed new oil agreements which will see Tullow Oil take charge of drilling oil in the Albertine region. This sparked debate among legislative members who said the President disobeyed their decision of putting on halt the signing of oil deals.