World Bank pumps $250m in Uganda oil infra

Infrastructure bottlenecks have so far delayed a number of major exploration and production projects in the region, which is estimated to hold about 3.5bn barrels of crude.

The World Bank has committed $250 million to fund projects in Uganda’s hydrocarbon-rich Albertine province, in a bid to support the country’s burgeoning oil production capacity.

The pledge, announced by World Bank vice president for Africa, Makhtar Diop, during a meeting with Uganda leader Yoweri Museveni last week, came as a list of projects was drawn up aimed at boosting economic growth and improving livelihood in the Horn of Africa.

It aims at relieving transport bottlenecks in remote Albertine, a region along the country's western border with the Democratic Republic of Congo poorly equipped with roads, air access and railways. Albertine boasts estimated oil reserves worth 3.5 billion barrels but lacks the essential infrastructure to exploit them.

International majors such as China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), France’s Total and the UK’s Tullow are expected to invest up to $15 billion in the region in exploration and production activities. Yet CNOOC, China’s third-largest national oil company, said earlier this month that development of the region’s Kingfisher oil field would be delayed by a year to 2018 due to infrastructure constraints.

Along with the Albertine pledge the World Bank also approved a $175 million loan for the Second Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure Development Project (KIIDP-2), which seeks to boost the capital’s infrastructure and institutional capacity. The initiative involves enhancing the quality of road infrastructure in Kampala City as well as strengthening the authorities’ engineering and planning skills.