Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Large and Medium Contractors participating in the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project. These MSMEs, carefully chosen from the ten districts traversed by the pipeline, are poised to unlock significant opportunities in the oil and gas sector.
The impetus for this collaboration stems from the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU), which has been spearheading a Business Linkages training program for MSMEs along the EACOP project. This initiative, funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) through a US$500,000 grant agreement with the Government of Uganda, seeks to bolster the capabilities of local MSMEs and establish vital business connections along the EACOP corridor.
Mr. Ernest Rubondo, Executive Director of PAU, emphasized that the project’s overarching objective is to empower local MSMEs and facilitate their entry into new markets by fostering links between micro and small-medium enterprises and larger domestic, regional, or international corporations. This initiative aims to not only enable medium-sized companies to provide goods and services to larger enterprises but also equip them with the know-how to seize opportunities within the oil and gas sector.
Since its inauguration in Mubende District in January 2021, this project has witnessed the training of over 400 SMEs in the EACOP-adjacent districts, including 137 women and youth-led enterprises. Mr. Martin Byaruhanga, team leader of ESTEEM International Consultants, who conducted the Business Linkages training, reported that the program significantly exceeded its targets. A total of 138 MoUs were inked between micro and small companies and fifty medium-sized firms, surpassing the initial target of 50 MoUs by an impressive 276 percent.
Furthermore, in the second cluster, 41 MoUs were signed between medium-sized enterprises and large corporations, outperforming the targeted 20 MoUs by 205 percent. These accomplishments underscore the eagerness of local businesses to collaborate and expand their horizons within the burgeoning oil and gas sector.
Rev. Enock Kasirabo Mushaija, Director of Kisirabo Holdings, a beneficiary of the Business Linkages training from Mubende District, highlighted the program’s significance. He called for its sustainability, emphasizing the importance of extending its reach, particularly to vulnerable groups.
Addressing these concerns, Mr. Michael Otonga, Director of Finance and Corporate Services at PAU, affirmed that efforts were underway to secure additional support from the government and development partners to prolong the project’s lifespan. He emphasized the need to uphold standards and consistency as they work towards sustainability.
With the backing of the AfDB and the Ugandan government, MSMEs are set to receive further capacity-building and business linkage training, driving continued growth and economic development.