Stakeholders outline benefits to oil community as Hoima International Airport nears completion

The completion of Kabalega International Airport, formerly known as Hoima International Airport in Hoima district, has suffered delays, pushing the handover to October of this year.

On a recent visit to the construction site by this website, the contractor, Shikun & Binui International-SBI/Colas Limited, explained that the initial plan was to have the airport handed over to the government in June 2023. According to Amos Muriisa, the Communications Manager at SBC, the handover has been delayed to allow for the completion of crucial remaining works. Muriisa is however optimistic that the existing infrastructure will suffice for necessary air traffic. He said the construction progress now stands at 91 percent.

The airport, whose name has changed thrice and is now called Kabalega International Airport, will cost of USD 309 million with the capacity to accommodate four cargo planes simultaneously.

Its features will include a fire station, apron, control tower, accommodation facilities, parallel runways, taxiway, air rescue firefighting house, power substation house, communications and navigation systems, perimeter fence, and air-ground illumination system, among other facilities. The runway, measuring 3.5 kilometers in length and 45 meters in width is near completion.

The cargo terminal building, limited-capacity passenger terminal building, air rescue firefighting house, power substation house, and air-ground lighting system are between 89 to 90 percent complete. The airport is expected to play a crucial role as one of the key support infrastructures for the upcoming commercial oil production activities. Construction at the site began in April 2018 and was originally expected to be completed by June of this year.

Once complete, the airport will open major operations for the oil drilling in Hoima. Muriisa explains that the first air traffic expected is that of cargo planes ferrying in heavy equipment needed for the operations to kick off.

Benefits of community engagement in oil discoveries

The discovery of oil in Hoima District, Uganda, has brought about significant changes and opportunities for the local community. As the oil industry takes shape, stakeholders have prioritized the importance of community engagement in ensuring that the benefits are maximized, and the potential negative impacts are minimized.

Officials at the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU), the government parastatal in charge of oil and petroleum resources, explain to this website that the stakeholders have actively involved the community in decision-making processes, fostering local content development, and promoting sustainable development practices, a move aimed at ensuring the residents of the host community in Hoima, Buliisa and surrounding districts reap the benefits of their oil wealth.

Economic Opportunities and Job Creation:

“The oil industry in Uganda presents immense economic opportunities and job creation potential for the local community. From direct employment in oil-related activities to indirect jobs in supporting industries such as construction, hospitality, and transportation, the community stands to gain significantly,” Zak Lubega, the head of Corporate Affairs at China North Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) states, adding that by actively engaging with the community, oil companies can prioritize local hiring and provide training and skill development programs, ensuring that the residents have access to well-paying jobs and can participate in the region’s economic growth. CNOOC International is one of the largest oil and gas companies in Uganda’s energy sector and owns one-third interests in each of Exploration Areas (EA) EA1/1A, EA2 and Kingfisher. Our partners are Total E&P Uganda (33.3%) and Tullow Oil (33.3%). CNOOC International operates the Kingfisher production license.

Infrastructure Development

The influx of investment in the oil sector is also expected to lead to significant infrastructure development in the area. Improved roads, schools, healthcare facilities, and utilities will not only benefit the oil industry but also enhance the overall quality of life for the local population. By involving the community in decision-making processes and ensuring their needs are considered, infrastructure development is targeted towards areas that require the most attention, resulting in lasting benefits for the residents.

Local Content Development:

According to Tony Otoa, the Chief Executive of Stanbic Incubator Limited, community engagement in the oil sector goes beyond job creation. It also encompasses local content development, where the community actively participates in the supply chain and business opportunities associated with the industry. “Through capacity-building programs and support for local entrepreneurs, the community can establish businesses that provide goods and services to the oil companies. This not only strengthens the local economy but also fosters a sense of ownership and empowerment among the residents, ensuring sustainable economic growth beyond the lifespan of the oil reserves,” Otoa, who has vehemently advocated for local content development explains.

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