A Chinese firm, Sunmaker Energy (Uganda) Limited is constructing a 17-billion Shillings facility to train Ugandans to take up jobs in the oil and gas sector.
The facility located in Bugolobi targets to train 1600 Ugandans annually in drilling, specialized welding for the pipelines, refineries and environment safety skills among others.
Zhiwu Gong Mark, the Training Head at Sunmaker Uganda said his firm is also targeting to train Ugandans generally the energy fields, including oil, gas and geothermal energy.
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The Oil and Gas policy 2008 requires oil companies to employ Ugandans at all levels or what is referred to as national content or local content. Sunmaker Energy (Uganda) hopes that its initiative will improve access to jobs and economic opportunities for local people in the oil and gas value chains through demand-driven and practice-oriented skills development.
Sunmaker Uganda training is part of the Belt and Road Initiative-an ambitious foreign policy announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in May this year.
The "Belt and Road" initiative, also known as "One Belt, One Road," is enabling China's biggest state-owned commercial banks to raise capital to fund investments," which aims to connect more than 60 countries across Asia, Europe and Africa.
Zhiwu Gong Mark told URN in an interview that their training will be funded by the International Oil Companies like China's Cnooc and Total to get the skills required in their operations in order to meet the local content provisions regarding jobs and skills.
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He says individual Ugandans wishing to pay to upgrade their skills could also be given chance to pay by themselves.
Sunmaker Energy (Uganda) training facility comes at the time when the country prepares for the production oil crude oil from the Abertine Graben. There are plans to construct a refinery and crude oil pipeline from Hoima to Tanga in Tanzania.
There is however concern that most of the jobs could be taken by foreigners because Ugandans have not acquired some of the technical skills to up the jobs.
The Lake Albert Basin Development Project according to a survey conducted Total, Tullow Uganda and China's CNOOC will create between 100,000 to 150,000 jobs through direct, indirect and induced employment.
The survey found that most of the jobs will be at technician level and the number will be very limited with a range of 11,000 to 15,000.
The oil companies also known as the Joint Venture Partners however noted they will face a major challenge relating to human resources for technicians or craft related.
Another study by International Labor Organisation (ILO) said only 5 per cent of the workforce in Uganda is classified as “craft and related trades” workers; and that only a small proportion of these are able to access jobs in the oil and gas industry.