In a strategic move to seize the forthcoming prospects in the burgeoning oil and gas sector within the Albertine Graben, Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom has so far channeled an impressive sh5b into a range of business ventures.
These investments encompass real estate, treasury bills, fixed deposits, and the Unity Trust Fund, a unique insurance vehicle designed to nurture wealth through capital gains, contingent upon the fund’s performance.
Robert Owagonza, the Kingdom’s Minister of Finance and Planning, told The Albertine Journal on Monday that this commitment aligns with their endeavour to make the kingdom self-sustaining.
The Kingdom started on this path with the acquisition of Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom Plaza, a sh1.65b commercial complex located on Main Street in Hoima City.
The building boasts a hotel with 23 rooms, two conference facilities, and hosts notable tenants such as Stanbic Bank and a restaurant, generating an annual revenue of sh200m.
Additional income streams of sh200m, he said, is expected from treasury bills and sh108m from other investments to bolster the Kingdom’s financial endeavours to meet its solvent needs.
The Kingdom recently secured a six-acre plot for sh700m in Buliisa town council, intending to construct a commercial building designated for office space.
This deliberate diversification and expansion strategy have been coordinated through a newly established holding company, currently withheld from public disclosure until it’s unveiling.
“Omukama Solomon Gafabusa Iguru’s emphasis on strategic investments, as articulated in the 30-year strategic development plan three years ago, underlines the Kingdom’s commitment to foster development and harness the local economic potential inherent in the oil and gas industry,” Owagonza stated.
Owagonga also confirmed that the Kingdom is currently engaged in securing capital for further investments, focusing on tourism, agriculture with an emphasis on value addition, media, and oil and mineral development.
These initiatives are not only expected to serve the burgeoning population and accommodate tourists but also generate employment opportunities while acting as a beacon for subjects to learn from and leverage emerging opportunities.
Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom Minister for Finance, Robert Owagonza. Credit: Robert Atuhairwe/The Albertine Journal
This strategic positioning coincides with the escalation of oil production activities in the Tilenga and Kingfisher Development areas, along with the 1,443-kilometer East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline set to transport crude oil from the Hoima industrial park to Tanga Port in Tanzania.
Andrew Kirungi Byakutaga, the Kingdom Premier, told The Albertine Journal last year that Bunyoro is now perfectly poised for investment in the age of oil and gas production.
Preparations are already underway for partnerships ahead of the anticipated oil production in 2025.
Agriculture remains the region’s primary economic activity, engaging 65% of the population across an estimated 2 square kilometres of cultivated land.
With its unique topography, national parks, game reserves, and abundant water sources like Lake Albert, the region also boasts vast tourism potential.
The Kingdom initiated strategic engagements with the Petroleum Authority and Joint Venture Partners, which include Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC), Total Energies, and CNOOC Uganda Limited.
Byakutaga stated then their gratitude for the collaborative spirit, reinforcing their commitment to preparing their people to harness the opportunities of the oil industry.
The Kingdom is enhancing its local administration to educate subjects on food production, addressing food insecurity, and initiating income-generating activities to combat rampant poverty.
They are focusing on proper agronomics, empowering the local population with income-generating skills.
A report from the World Bank in January 2018, based on the 2012/13 Uganda National Household Survey and the 2014 National Housing and Population census, highlighted that Bunyoro sub-region had the highest poverty rate in western Uganda at 10.4 percent.
The Kingdom comprises the districts of Hoima, Masindi, Kibaale, Kakumiro, Kagadi, Kikuube, Buliisa, and Kiryandongo.
Byakutaga did not dismiss the prospect of the Kingdom building its capacity to establish an oil firm to develop the discovered oil fields in the region.
Local and international corporations have started to establish ventures in Bunyoro, aiming to harness the socio-economic potential associated with the oil and gas industry.
Robert Byaruhanga, a director and consultant at Mwitanzige Energy Services Limited, urges that the Kingdom needs to engage further with oil companies.
He emphasisded the importance of using corporate social responsibility initiatives to bolster the capacity of the local population, guiding them in understanding the industry’s complexity, contracting and bidding processes, and opportunities for formalising their businesses.