Gov’t oil company boss throws in the towel

Dr Josephine Wapakabulo, the founding CEO of Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) has resigned.

In a letter dated May 13, addressed to the UNOC Board chairman Emmanuel Katongole, Wapakabulo writes that she intends to leave office 13 August 2019 – three years since she took on the role.

UNOC’s role is to handle the Uganda government’s commercial interests in the petroleum sector and to ensure that the resource is exploited in a sustainable manner. UNOC also aims at increasing participation of Ugandans in the oil and gas sector through employment and provision of goods and services.

In a message on the website, she promises to help the company play “across the petroleum value-chain and plans to grow into an oil and gas entity with both local and international presence.”

“I am very proud of what I have been able to achieve since I was recruited as the first employee and CEO on August 1, 2016. I am most proud of the hard-working, smart and skilled Ugandans we have employed at UNOC,” Wapakabulo wrote.

“The time has come for me to focus on my family and new opportunities,” Wakaphabulo explains in what is seen as a major setback in the country’s journey to the production and commercialization of the oil resource.

The resignation comes at a time when the key milestones in the sector have not been achieved. Uganda has not constructed the pipeline, the refinery and the country is yet to see the first oil from the ground – key elements that she was expected to oversee.

She was appointed because of her experience. Wapakabulo has more than 18 years’ professional experience in multinational companies in various sectors including Oil & Gas, Defence, Aerospace and IT consulting, according to a profile on the UNOC website.

She is also a chartered engineer and holds a Ph.D. in Information Science focused on big data.

Her resignation begs question on whether things are going according to what she had anticipated.