Uganda’s executives globetrot to drum up investor appetite for $4b oil refinery

Uganda government officials have been racking up air miles between Entebbe, Italy and US to strike a financing deal for the $4 billion refinery project.

Government officials admit that the refinery project has fallen behind others, and will likely come onstream late in 2027 at the earliest if the necessary financing is tied up and the pending technical studies concluded sooner.

As a result, local players that were primed to take up equity in the project as well as regional countries that expressed interest in the refinery that was sold as an East African Community (EAC) venture, remain non-committal, citing the project’s failure to take shape since 2018, when it was awarded to a consortium of investors.

Potential investors say they remain open to discussions with the government, but without an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) structure, the refinery remains an unbankable project.

“The problem is that the refinery doesn’t have a structure yet — an EPC structure,” said Richard Byarugaba, managing director of the National Social Security Fund, a Ush14 trillion ($3.68 billion) Fund that the government approached in 2015 to take up stake in the project.

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