Throughout its engagement in Uganda, the Group has supported a programme of communicating with and supporting local communities in the West Nile area and launched a wide variety of initiatives which can be categorised into five main areas:
- Promoting wider awareness of the Company and the oil industry.
At an early stage of its operational activities, Tower through its subsidiary, Neptune Petroleum, established a Visitor Centre in the Arua Library and this required a major refurbishment programme for it to be usable. This redevelopment had a major local impact. It is strategically located in central Arua and the improvement and restocking of the library has transformed the reading culture amongst the local communities and especially students in the West Nile region, increasing the daily attendance from 5 in previous years to an average of 140 in 2008. A modest fund has also been committed to support production of educational books on Uganda’s oil industry and the Uganda “Oil Calendar” to increase the local community’s awareness of the oil industry.
- Establishing a strong local identity through employment and training of locals to manage key areas of the business.
Neptune Petroleum was recognised in Uganda for employing a very high percentage of Ugandans in the company compared to other foreign organisations that operated in the country between 2007 to 2012. The local population will continue to benefit from Tower’s commitment to developing local content participations in the country’s oil industry.
- Communication with local communities in all areas to keep them informed of operations.
An intensive communications program was carried out in the community beginning early 2008 to explain the results of the company’s first seismic programme and to prepare local people for the advent of the drilling phase, with town hall meetings, school presentations, radio phone-ins and open air meetings in markets and religious venues.
- Consultation to gain feedback and understand community priorities for Tower’s social investments.
The feedback from these meetings has enabled Tower to design projects that were relevant and beneficial to the local population. Further consultations with local and central government were been undertaken to ensure consolidated support across the relevant government departments. Key initiatives are described below:
- Social investments which improved local access to fresh water and to health and safety awareness.Initiatives within the community are described in the previous section.
- Working with local communities to initiate commercial activities which could develop into sustainable enterprises.
- Building local capacity for the long term through encouragement of local educational initiatives and use of local labour and contractors.
A particular emphasis was placed on training and employing local labour for many project-related operations as well as Company sponsored community programmes such as tree planting and road improvements. Whenever possible, local contractors from the Licence area were employed to ensure that local capacity is developed and that income benefits spread to the impoverished communities. Over the licence period Tower employed over 800 staff on both fulltime and short term assignments, 90% of whom were Ugandans. Over 40 Ugandan companies were employed to work on Towers projects providing services such as catering, logistics and transportation, environmental and engineering consultancies and civil works.