Alex picture By Alex Nelson Malanga

Dar es Salaam. Construction of the $ 3.5 billion East African crude oil pipeline (Eacop) is scheduled to begin next month, it was announced yesterday.

Foreign Minister Palamagamba Kabudi yesterday briefed journalists on his most recent five-day official visit to France, saying that Total Oil Company’s director for Africa Division, Nicolas Terraz, had assured him that actual construction on the project would begin in the second week of March.

“While I was in France, I had discussions with the director of Total, who assured me that everything was ready for the construction of the pipeline in the second week of next month,” said Prof. Kabudi at a press conference.

Last September, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and his Tanzanian counterpart John Magufuli agreed to accelerate the implementation of the Eacop project in a bilateral meeting in the Chato district of Geita.

This was a follow-up meeting after Uganda signed the Host Government Agreement (HGA) with Total for the multi-billion dollar Eacop project.

The two heads of state and government urged officials from both countries to speed up the harmonization of outstanding issues and speed up the remaining agreements, including the Tanzanian HGA, to speed up the implementation of the project.

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As a result of the duo’s advance, Tanzania and Total signed an agreement last October that could pave the way for the construction of a crude oil pipeline from Uganda to the port of Tanga.

The negotiations for the Tanzanian HGA included, among other things, project permits, land rights, local content, health security as well as environmental and labor standards.

The 1,447 kilometer pipeline will be used to transport crude oil from Hoima, Uganda to the port of Tanga for overseas export.

The pipeline, two thirds of which will run through Tanzania, will create at least 4,700 direct jobs and 27,000 indirect jobs, according to Prof. Kabudi.

Tanzania and Uganda agreed in March 2016 that a pipeline for the transport of crude oil from the Lake Albert Basin in western Uganda to the overseas markets would be laid through Tanga Port.

An agreement on this letter was signed by the two neighboring countries in May 2017, followed by the laying of the foundation stone in the port of Tanga by Presidents Magufuli and Museveni in August of the same year.

Eacop is expected to unlock the potential of East Africa by attracting investors to explore opportunities in the region.

In another development minister, Kabudi said Total plans to build the coating industry and the lubricant mixing plant here in the country.

In the meantime, Prof. Kabudi held talks with the deputy managing director of the French Development Agency (AFD), Bouduin Philippe, who informed him about the decision of the French government to raise the fund for the development projects for five years from 2017 to 2017 to 1.2 billion. EUR (3.3 trillion Shillings) to be doubled in 2022.

In addition, AFD, in cooperation with Tanzania, is in the final stages of discussions on the Tanzanian strategic projects in the areas of clean water and sanitation, energy and infrastructure.

“791.7 million EUR (2.2 trillion Shillings) have already been made available for the projects,” said Prof. Kabudi.