GHANA-OIL WORKERS TRAINING
By Paul Ndiho
May 27, 2011
Last year, Ghana became the newest African oil exporter, turning on the taps to new revenues. Now, a private job-training center in Ghana is preparing young people to create a qualified labor pool for the country’s newest big industry.
In December, 2010, the President of Ghana, John Evans Atta Mills, launched the country’s first oil delivery, as Ghana joined the ranks of African petroleum producers. However the country did not have enough skilled people to take on the challenges of this new industry. Today, a training program in Takoradi, western Ghana has young people kitted up and ready to learn skills necessary to be part of the country’s fastest growing industry.
“It’s quite hectic, standing in the sun always trying to learn what is going on but it’s a form of exercise, a form of a training, so its, we hope to achieve and know more. “
Sigma-Base Technical Services Limited teaches welding, pipe fitting, electrical engineering and specialized construction to about 3-thousand students. Companies like Sigma-Base will be integral in attaining the government’s goal of 90 percent local participation in ‘strategic areas’ of the oil and gas industry by 2020.
“Since I have the experience, I decided to start something, engage the youth of Ghana meaningfully, train them, get them ready so that when the industry opens, they will have something to do, they will not be idle, and therefore we will not have any frustrated youth visiting us with mayhem.”
Ghana’s initial production of 120,000 barrels per day ranks the West African Nation as sub-Saharan Africa’s seventh largest producer, with output set to double within three years.
“I heard in the oil industry, there is a bigger money, the more you work hard, the more you earn , so I hope to earn big then further my education then, be able to take care of my family.”
The International Monetary Fund forecasts growth at 13 percent this year, with oil production accounting for around half of that. The country’s budget shows it will earn about 400 million dollars from oil this year, although the figure is likely to be higher if oil prices remain high. Samuel Agyeman an award winning journalist visiting from Ghana, says that unlike other oil producing countries in Africa, Ghana is likely to benefit from its petroleum revenues.
“The IMF report states that Ghana compared with other relatively oil producing countries is likely to really utilize its oil find. The reason being that we have found this oil at the time the country is well built in democracy and much aware of the challenges of the discovery of oil. So this has come at a time where people are much cautious about what to do to prevent the natural resource from being a curse but a blessing for the people itself. And if politicians stick to their promises to ensure that oil revenue is properly accounted for then I am sure we will make a head way.”
Mr. Agyeman observes that it’s a good thing for this educational institution like Sigma-Base Technical Services Limited to be set up in Takoradi.
“I recall that not too long ago, I covered the Chiefs of Takoradi who had gone to Parliament to present a proportion for a 10% fund set aside for the development Western Region. So I am sure that an educational institution like this will be good news for the people because at the end of the day local people are going to graduating from this school and working in oil companies unlike a situation where expatriates will come in to take over the jobs and leave locals unemployed or doing odd jobs.”
Analysts say if the oil money is used properly, the resource could be a game-changer for Ghana, helping to transform its aid-reliant economy to one on a par with nations such as Egypt or Iran.