By Javier Silas Omagor
As Uganda not only struggles with unemployment among the youth, but the limited resources to enable talent scouting and development, it is a welcome idea that sport-gifted young people are benefiting from interventions to eliminate both challenges.
It is against that background that multinational oil and gas company TotalEnergies have put aside millions of shillings to help both elite and the budding athletes in Uganda.
To do this, TotalEnergies is partnering with world champion and record holder Joshua Cheptegei, through his Joshua Cheptegei Development Foundation (JOCDEF) and Joshua Cheptegei Junior Primary School.
The oil and gas giant contributed 42 solar lamps and 42 12kg LPG cylinders and 42 fruit tree seedlings to the budding athletes.
Speaking about the gesture, Daniel Mayieka, the managing director of TotalEnergies Marketing Uganda, said: “Our move to provide a sustainable lighting solution for the upcoming athletes aims at saving the trees around their homes from being cut down for charcoal by providing an alternative and better solution called cooking gas.”
Through JOCDEF, a couple of beneficiaries were selected and the French oil and gas company committed to contributing food and nutrition for the children and their families.
According to Mayieka, “TotalEnergies would be making an additional donation of 150 solar lamps to the P.6 and P.7 class pupils of the Joshua Cheptegei Junior Primary School in recognition of the invaluable contribution teachers make to children’s lives and their futures.”
In November 2022, JOCDEF, Cheptegei and TotalEnergies Marketing Uganda signed a three year-term Tri-partite agreement as evidence of TotalEnergies’ commitment to supporting child and youth education and empowerment at the grass root level, supporting sports, and protecting the environment.
For those three years, the oil major will be injecting a total cash in a tune of sh450m to the course through Cheptegei’s foundation – JOCDEF.
The group emphasised the need for a shift away from hydrocarbons and coal fuel (firewood) reechoing it global pledge of “net zero” by 2050.
In the last edition of Joshua Cheptegei X-Mass run (November 2022), TotalEnergies Uganda further went ahead to purchase winners’ prizes costing sh38.1m.
In the eyes of many athletes benefiting from the project, the deal is widely lauded as a triumph for responding to the impact that global warming is having on vulnerable countries such as Uganda.
Cheptegei expressed gratitude towards the gesture that TotalEnergies has put forth to work with the foundation with special consideration to the children and the environment.
Uganda’s greatest athlete of all time, added that he was born and raised in the mountainous Kapchorwa district, close to the famous Sipi falls and understands the “impact of having a favourable environment that provides a livelihood to an entire ecosystem.”
Cheptegei further emphasized that TotalEnergies gesture is not only timely and perfect but very pivotal in what the brand, the foundation and community, needs to achieve.
The runner has also been appointed the brand ambassador of TotalEnergies Marketing Uganda.
Besides TotalEnergies, JOCDEF has attracted funding from a couple of partners and sponsors including Nike, Global Sports Communications, Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), Stanbic Bank, Centenary Bank, Uganda Rift Valley Tourism Company, MTN Uganda and Action Aid Uganda.
Last year, the double Olympics champion’s foundation (JOCDEF) was among the seven Ugandan entities which were carefully selected to benefit from a sh1.9b development funding from the Japanese government.
JOCDEF offers social-economic charitable services to communities in Sebei and neighbouring regions as well as identify and nurture talent via JOCDEF Athletics Academy that is without mentioning provision of education to largely needy-wise children at the superstar’s owned primary school situated in Kapchorwa municipality, Kapchorwa district.