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Entebbe, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda took a firm step to building its first oil refinery when officials signed a Project Framework Agreement with the Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium (AGRC) in Entebbe on Tuesday. The agreement will ensure development, design, financing, construction, operation and maintenance of the oil refinery in Hoima District. The project will cost $3 billion-$4 billion. The AGRC comprises YAATRA Africa (Mauritius), Lionworks Group Limited (Mauritius), Nuovo Pignone International SRL (a General Electric Company located in Italy) and SAIPEM SPA (Italy).

Uganda is represented in the consortium by the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC), which is a limited liability petroleum company owned by the government.

After the signing, President Yoweri Museveni challenged Western companies to take interest in helping Africa explore its resources potential, saying the continent presented immense business opportunities.

“There is a lot of sleeping in Africa. You find people who should know but instead don’t know,” said the Ugandan President. “And also there has been sleeping in the West, they don’t care about what potential is in Africa.”

Museveni said unlike China which seems to understand Africa’s potential and has been active in doing business with Africa, Western companies have been reluctant in taking up projects and investing in the continent.

“Africa is going to be a huge power house in terms of business,” said the President, who noted that African leaders and the NRM government in particular have resolved some of the obstacles to doing business like fragmented markets and confiscation of private companies by past regimes.

While congratulating the parties to the agreement, President Museveni said the composition of the AGRC showed that Western companies were also waking up to realise Africa’s potential.

“Africa and the West share a lot of history together and there is a need for them to use these past linkages to further economic business,” said the President.

Muloni hails Museveni

The Energy Minister, Eng. Irene Muloni, said the signing ceremony marked the end of the selection process that commenced in January 2017.

She said her ministry had done extensive consultations before arriving at who to assign the project, estimated to cost between $3-4 billion.

Eng Muloni saluted President Museveni for the guidance provided throughout the entire process.

In her remarks, Dr Josephine Wapakhabulo, the chief executive officer, of the Uganda National Oil Company, said the development of the refinery will trigger a number of other investments in the energy-based industries, contributing to economic development and attainment of middle income status.

She added that the refinery will grow UNOC’s business portfolio and help unlock other planned investments at the Kabaale Industrial Park.

The Italian Ambassador, Domenico Fornara, commended President Museveni for his counsel, saying the project would enhance Uganda-Italy business relations.

Ambassador Deborah Malac of the US, congratulated the government upon conclusion of the selection process, saying she hoped more business opportunities would emerge for American companies after this project.

SOURCE PPU