President Yoweri Museveni has called upon reputable private educators to consider starting up private technical schools aimed at skilling Ugandans with oil skills in order to be employed in the national and global oil sectors.
The President made the remarks at the Skill and Local Content Forum that took place at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel.
He observed that venture would be better than allowing oil companies to start up training schools and later deduct money from Uganda’s oil. He also noted that this would be a lucrative business to the owners since some parents and government would pay for students enrolled in those private technical skilling schools.
“There is a sizable group of people that did science courses. We foresaw this and started an oil training school in Kigumba. The graduates do not have jobs yet but we are not panicking. We welcome oil and gas but we are not intoxicated by it. Uganda will grow and become a modern country with or without it,” he said.
The President also emphasized the need for those trained in oil and gas to be certified because the industry is such a highly challenging area that requires one to be highly skilled and knowledgeable.
“You cannot use Katwe welders. The fear is that they will do sub-standard work yet working in oil pipes and machines can be dangerous because they are a ticking bomb. That is why there is need for certified people,” he said.
He assured Ugandans that there is no need to worry and panic about the rate at which the oil and gas industry is moving in Uganda adding that the most important thing is the development of the human resource.
“Oil is just an appetizer. The real business is transforming the economy using the four sectors of modernized agriculture, industrialization, ICT and Public Service,” he remarked.
He reiterated that the national content policy should not be unreasonable to refrain oil companies from starting to produce oil before they skill Ugandans.
“We are donating a lot of money through road construction but that cannot stop us from constructing roads. Roads done by us or others can bring more businesses in the country,” he said.
The Minister for Energy and Minerals, Hon. Irene Muloni informed the forum that at least 167,000 jobs at the peak of gas and construction activities are expected, with 15% for professionals, 60% for technicians and for 25% labourers. She added that the national content policy, which roots for national participation, is already before Parliament and will be discussed to see how to benefit the people of Uganda.
The Minister also revealed that her Ministry is going to work hand in hand with the Ministry of Education and Sports to see that the programmes and strategies are taken towards the improvement of the lives of the people using the industry.
The Chairperson of the Uganda Chamber of Petroleum and Mines, Mr. Elly Karuhanga, called on government to provide a pool of skilled people since the oil companies will not only work with trained people. He added that US$150 million has already been dedicated to vocational skilling alone and that the country needs 40,000 youths trained immediately in the oil sector.
He added that all stakeholders that include the private sector, government, training institutions and development partners are determined to meet the challenge of skilling Ugandans in the oil sector.