Stakeholders in the oil and gas sector have today engaged the senate energy committee on the Local Content Bill 2016 to dissect and adequately debate the proposed provisions of the Bill so as ensure the envisioned Bill meets the local content needs of the country.
The Bill is premised on Article 69 (1) of the Kenyan constitution which obliges the state to ensure the sustainable exploitation, utilization, management of resources as well as utilize the environment and natural resources for the benefit of the people of Kenya.
The Bill thus provides framework for involvement of local communities in the extractive value chain, ensure the community receives revenue due to them and targeting income streams to local communities, local enterprises and financial institutions.
The event brought together representatives of government, the private sector and other representative bodies of the extractives industry sector including consulates, community leaders, professionals in academia and members of the general public.
Key speaker at the event chairman of the senate committee Gideon Moi urged the industry to ensure that Kenyans in general reap the benefits from the extractives energy by developing strategies that also support related industries.
He said the Bill was formulated in the route of Nationalism recognizing that the international companies are unlikely to encourage community participation on merely goodwill.
“Nationalism begins through identification of natural interest and a national vision; thank God Kenya now has a vision 2030. Every Kenyan now has an opportunity to identify a niche area and seize the opportunity.
Among issues that took center stage of the debate included: developing capacity through training, scholarships and internships, Need for a local content policy to support the bill, need for a skills gap analysis,gender equality, need for a grace period for the implementation of the law as well as employment and tendering opportunities of Kenyans.
“Practicality of the Bill needs to be viewed from the Local implementation as to where the community can feel that the law is followed fully and not favoring the investors and ‘outsiders’. Constitution allows for ‘local community’ to get preferential treatment,”says Ikai Angelei executive director Friends of Lake Turkana.
The Bill needs to be renamed the Kenya Content Bill then it breaks down to county government and local community. The Bill also needs to be made cost effective for the players in the various sectors,” says Patrick Obath an associate director, Adam Smith International.
“There is need to force the gender issue into the committee recognizing that women and youth feel left out in the Bill. Let us also have courses that are available locally considered during the costings on scholarships to halt cash flight from the local education sector,” Wanjiku Manyara the Chairman of Petroleum Institute of East Africa.
Legislation will help set boundaries, should not be too prescriptive, allow market forces – Edward Mungatana representing the Kenya Oil and Gas Association and Tullow Oil.
The views picked up by the committee will be used to strengthen the bill before being forwarded to the National Assembly for enactment and forwarded to the President for assent.