As Uganda fast-tracks the start of its commercial production of oil, the country is looking at China to access credit.

Chinese financiers, entrepreneurs, and their Ugandan counterparts on Friday held an oil and gas conference to discuss partnership opportunities in the country’s nascent sector, whose first oil is expected by the end of 2020.

The conference was hosted by Stanbic Bank Uganda and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC).

Ernest Rubondo, Executive Director of the Uganda Petroleum Authority, a government entity, said government has already put in place the necessary policies and legal frameworks to enhance the prospects in the sector.

Uganda has so far discovered over 1.6 billion barrels of oil in the western part of the country.

Official figures show that the oil and gas sector is expected to attract investments of about 15 billion dollars with the majority of the capital directed towards infrastructure projects.

They include the construction of the crude oil pipeline that will link the wells to the Tanzanian seaport of Tanga, about 1,400 km away. There is the construction of the refinery in which the Ugandan government will have 40-percent stake.

Josephine Wapakhabulo, Chief Executive Uganda National Oil Company, also a state entity, told the meeting that in every project that government will have a stake, it will need partners.

Patrick Mweheire, Chief Executive of Stanbic Bank, said Uganda stands at a critical point in its economic future and the commercially viable quantities of oil could be the game changer.

He told Xinhua that what is now needed is credit, and the viable option is China. He said Uganda needs about 15 billion dollars between now and when first oil is expected out.

“Uganda has a GDP of 30 billion dollars and we need to raise 15 billion dollars. This shows you that we require outside capital to come and invest,” Mweheire said.

Wang Lubin, the Chief Executive Officer ICBC at the Africa Representative Office and board member of Standard Bank Group, said they are well placed to play a leading role in the development of the sector.

“We have already been working with the government and the companies who are executing a number of critical oil-related infrastructure projects and have vast experience working together on large scale projects across the continent,” Wang said.

He added that both banks have jointly financed deals worth about 15 billion dollars between Africa and China. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/Newsghana.com.gh