A Blindman’s Painting

By on October 29, 2020

I’ve never quite fancied myself as a businessman. The few times I’ve engaged in what one would call business, I’ve often ended up losing several thousands of shillings, my temper and one or two friends. Therefore I’ve since resigned myself to watching other people make the big money.

It is true that just like any other sane Ugandan, I’ve tried my hand at several things in an attempt ot make money. I’ve run an Internet Cafe, a Coffee Shop, a Shoe business, a little bookshop, an Alcohol Depot and even the most ridiculous of them all – a talent agency. None of them really hit the sweet spot that people like to call ‘break even’. The few that got close, I abandoned and relinquished to more serious people who were willing to sacrifice bits and pieces of their lives to grow the business. I suppose I wasn’t.

Because of this, I’ve internally admitted that business is perhaps not my forte. That being said, I am one of the most generous givers of business advice. Contrary to what everyone out there says, I believe some of the best business advice comes from failed businessmen. 

Before you abandon this blog post and run off to do more important things, let’s just put your heart to rest by stating that this Blog Post isn’t some form of motivational piece to get you off your behind and into the business world. Far from it. This blog post is just one of those random pieces where a blind man attempts to paint a picture using all his senses except that of sight. Confusing, right? I figured! But worry not – I’ll proceed to explain.

As ridiculous as it may sound, the truth is that many Ugandans are just like myself – they’ve tried several business ventures but often circle right back to that crowded area of failure. Oftentimes, this happens because folks are not privy to opportunities that could change the course of their destiny, especially in regards to business.

And because of this, I’ve devoted myself to sharing as many opportunities with my friends – just so that at least someone in my circles can make it. In my opinion, when one person makes it, many have made it. Not just because we know and love to leech on each other but because the fight is really not against each other but against poverty.

So anyway, a few days ago, while sharing some cheap alcohol and hearty laughs with some friends, it became apparent that any Ugandan with a legitimate business and a hunger to succeed could actually be in line to make some healthy money in the Oil and Gas sector. 

I kid you not!

As most Ugandans are already aware, it was confirmed that Uganda’s rift valley basin is rich with exploitable reserves of oil and gas.  For several years, we have all sat back and patiently waited for news of oil exploration and extraction for quite some time. Most of us really had no interest in the details, we just wanted to hear when the country would start making money from this discovery. From the time E.J. Wayland first documented hydrocarbon occurrences in the Albertine Graben in the 1920s up to 2014 when the Memorandum of Understanding on Commercialisation was signed between the Government of Uganda and Licensed oil companies, most of the activity was happening behind the scenes. And we waited.

Now, this activity is coming to the fore. And now, Ugandans are going to be a big piece of the puzzle – at least from what I gather. 

The Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) has developed a National Supplier Database (NSD) and a National Oil and Gas Talent Register to give Ugandans an opportunity to reap from this sector on an individual level before we can even reap from it as a nation. You see, the NSD is a register of entities and persons who have interest in providing goods, works and services to the oil and gas sector. Similarly, the Natioanl Oil and Gas Talent Register (NOGTR) captures all talent that can potentially work in the oil and gas sector as required by law.

To put it summarily, if you are not on either of these two databases, you are not going to be able to offer any goods and/or services to the Oil and Gas sector.

Over the years, Ugandan businesses have struggled with competition from foreign businesses and this has not always ended well for Ugandan businesses. Because of this, there was the introduction of the ‘local content’ concept. The licensees, contractors and their subcontractors must at all times offer first priority to goods which are made in Uganda and services that are offered by Ugandan citizens and companies except in the instance where these are unavailable. If these goods and services are unavailable locally, foreign companies in joint venture with Ugandan companies that hold at least 48% shareholding in the collaboration and only after approval by the Petroleum Authority of Uganda can offer these goods and/or services. 

The idea is to give opportunity to Ugandan companies and businesses to benefit from this Oil and Gas exploration so that the Ugandans can directly benefit from the sector. Some of the areas that Ugandans need to pay attention to in terms of service provision include transportation, security, foods and beverages, hotel accommodation and catering, human resource management, office supplies, fuel supply, land surveying, clearing and forwarding, crane hire, locally-available construction materials, civil works, supply of locally-available drilling and production materials, environment studies and impact assessment, communications and information technology services as well as waste management, where possible.

It would be unfortunate to find that the company offering catering services for a company dealing in Oil and Gas in Uganda is a foreign company. These are the things that the local content concept is trying to address. Yes, we are tired of foreigners coming around and taking away all the juicy deals and turning around to hire locals to execute while paying them peanuts. However, for us to counter this, we have to make the concerted effort to present ourselves as viable service providers.

If you own a business that deals in any of the areas mentioned above, I would recommend you visit www.pau.go.ug and register you company. As a rule, all vendors to oil companies and their subcontractors MUST be registered on the National Suppliers Database managed by PAU if they are to do any business in the sector. Similarly, any talent that can potentially work in the oil and gas sector MUST be registered in the National Oil and Gas Talent Register (NOGTR) which can be accessed through the same link (under the National Content menu).

Like I had already mentioned, I am not the most business savvy individual out there but I would like to think that if anyone wants to benefit from this industry, now is the time to visit that link and register one’s company so that they will be in the pool of companies to potentially be approached for service provision to the sector.

It is likely that several people will have worries of failing to meet certain requirements, having no capacity or generally falling short in certain areas. Worry not – there are opportunities for capacity building along the way as well as collaboration with bigger and more established and capable companies so as to deliver.  The first step is to visit the site and see what you have and what you lack, then proceed to fix the parts that you do not have.

If for some reason one or two people are unable to read this blog post till the end, I surely hope it is because they have instantly run off to www.pau.go.ug to register their companies / talent.

I hope this blindman painting gives you something worthwhile and I wish you all the best in your business endeavours.

“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rodgers

Bernard Ewalu Olupot
a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
Follow @beewol on Twitter, @beewol on Instagram and Beewol on Facebook 

Facebook Comments
Hit me up
Latest posts by beewol (see all)

About the author

Beewol - The Talkative Rocker