Policymakers in new resource-rich Eastern African countries are eager to promote industrialization and economic development by encouraging international oil and gas companies (IOCs) to use local suppliers. However, policymakers usually lack information on the local firms’ abilities and typically depend on studies by the IOCs to assess these capabilities. Such studies are useful and necessary but they usually only address the needs of the IOCs. By considering the capacity of local firms to learn and innovate, vital information is gathered which can then be used to enhance the design of local content policies. It also raises the prospects for the creation of a more sustainable local supplier base.