KAMPALA, UGANDA- The government has said it will explore for oil in the semi arid Karamoja region of north eastern Uganda.
The Mineral Development Junior Minister, Mr. Peter Lokeris, noted that plans are underway to ascertain whether the region found in north eastern part of Uganda has oil that can be exploited and produced.
The country has already discovered 2.5 billion barrels of oil in the Albertine rift in the west astride Lakes Albert, George and Edward, down to the Rwandan border.
Lokeris was speaking during the announcement of 20 scholarships to Ugandan students who will work in the oil and gas sector to be sponsored by oil explorers Tullow Oil Plc. The scholarships are aimed at building the capacity of Ugandans to work in the sector.
"Those who say that Ugandan oil may last a few years are lacking something. They don't know that very soon oil exploration activities will soon start in (Moroto) Karamoja where we expect a considerable volume of oil. This will definitely be added to our national capacity," said Lokeris.
The government recently announced 2015, as the year Ugandans should expect a first oil drop as infrastructure including a refinery is set up.
It requires over $2 billion for Uganda to construct a refinery at an operating cost of $132 million per year. Tullow Oil partnered with the British Council to ensure that about 20 Ugandans are sponsored to study the sector.
Mr Eion Mekie, the Tullow Uganda general manager said they want to ensure that the success of the oil and gas industry brings real, lasting benefits to the people of Uganda.
He said their social enterprise programme focuses on investing in education and capacity building in their countries of operation.
"The scholarship scheme will increase the number of people with expertise in the oil and gas sectors," stressed Mekie.
The scheme will offer a wide range of courses from Geosciences, Petroleum Engineering, Oil and Gas Engineering, Agriculture, Environment and Forestry Management, Hospitality and Tourism Management, Logistics and Supply Chain, law and all Business courses.
Ugandans to benefit from the scholarship will be those who have a first class or second upper degree holders who are in employment. Others who can benefit are those from technical or vocational studies with an HND distinction.
The beneficiaries must also have a track record of success in their field of work, demonstrate commitment to return to Uganda and, must demonstrate a high level of competence in management, strategy and ability to train and develop others.
By Paul Tentena: The East African Business Week Newspaper