Museveni Calls for Better Funding of UPIK to Strengthen Uganda’s Role in Oil Sector

As Uganda gears up to benefit from the oil and gas sector, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni says there is a need to invest all the needed funds in Uganda Petroleum Institute-Kigumba (UPIK). He says this will prepare Ugandans with needed skills and strengthen the country’s capacity in oil sector.

President Museveni made the remarks while commission the state of the art facilities built at the institution on Saturday in Kiryandongo District. UPIK is currently the only institution  in the country with international accreditation in oil and gas courses in the region.

The President described the institute as one of the “lucrative projects” that is bound to generate billions of dollars for the country in a few years to come thus adding that investment in such an institution is critical.

Museveni who praised the World Bank for its assistance in raising the institution’s facilities and standards, could not help but accuse government planners of failing to give Kigumba Petroleum Institute financing priority given the importance of the institution.

He pointed out that if people in charge of planning had given Kigumba priority, the 32 billion invested on the institute could have been obtained locally. Therefore, he suggested that the government should always make careful plans and prioritise investing in lucrative projects that will generate billions of dollars for the country in a few years to come.

Museveni criticised government planners shortly after UPIK principal, Bernard Ongodia, outlined a number of issues that are impeding the operation of the institution, the most of them revolve on low funding. 

Ongodia noted that since inception in 2010, the institution has experienced a significant dwindling in funding from a budget of 8.6 billion shillings to 2.7 billion shillings yet the implementation of their Physical Master plan is slightly over 50 progress.

He added that that due to this, several infrastructure projects have stalled for years. The principal also pointed to other problems including; inadequate equipment, water supply and power outages that not only increases our costs of operation by running a Generator constantly but also damages few available equipment.  

“Constrained cash flows have some ramifications in our preparations as we position ourselves to produce enough Technicians before ‘First Oil’ and beyond…Additional Workshop equipment necessary to upgrade to the training of level three (3) Technicians and Apprenticeship,” the principal noted before asking that the institutes Funding Mechanism needs to be streamlined.

Ongodia also bemoaned the staff’s low renumeration, which is having a negative impact on staff retention because experienced and knowledgeable trainers are being drawn to the oil industry by large salaries.

The President was equally interested in this issue stating that if it is not addressed all of the funds invested in the institution may be wasted if there are no trainers.  To him, the institution’s staff must be paid either slightly less than what their counterparts in private companies are earning or, if possible, receive payment that is equal to that of their private sector colleagues.

Located in Kiryandongo District, UPIK was established in 2010 a few years after Uganda had discovered oil resources in Albertine Graben. The Government-owned institution is the country’s centre for training, research and consultancy in the field of petroleum exploration, recovery, refinement and responsible utilization of Oil and Gas Resources.

In 2020, the Ministry of Education has secured a loan to upgrade facilities at the Institute to provide first rate training in oil and gas sectors. the upgrade has seen construction and equipping of five workshops namely; mechanical workshop, electrical, perturbed operations workshop, instrumentation workshop and wielding fabrication, pipe fitting and material testing laboratories.  

Other facilities constructed included a four-storied multipurpose block, 1.2 kilometers of road within the campus, sewage treatment plant among other. In the meantime, Uganda is not on the proper road to generate the necessary personnel for the oil and gas sector, according to Minister of Education and Sports Janet Museveni.

Meanwhile, Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Museveni noted that with the installed facilities, Uganda is not on the proper road to generate the necessary personnel for the oil and gas sector.

However, she issued a challenge to the institute’s personnel and administration to treat the facilities and equipment provided to them with care so that they can use it for the intended purpose. 

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