Lagos — Industry, education, skills and society are the four islands which have to be connected for West Africa to become the skills capital of the world. Vice President of Global Maritime, West Africa, Mr. Ross Agazuma has said.
Speaking at a one-day Stakeholders' Forum/Formal Presentation of the Petroleum Technology Institute Ghana (PTIG), Agazuma, one of the key promoters of the institute said, "In Africa, we have many skilled people. The main concern is how to create a lot of skills and increase the range of skills in unskilled people. There is the need to build bridges between industry, education system and skill providers."
He also stressed the need to plan demand and supply of skills, saying "part of the plans is the establishment of industry-based and research-inclined institutions such as the PTIG."
He said the forum provided a unique opportunity for everyone in the oil and gas industry to come and share insights and ideas on the critical issues of skills shortage that they all face in Africa.
According to him, the vision of the Institute, which is scheduled to take off in 2010, was driven by the growing global demand for skilled professionals in the petroleum industry, especially in Africa. This, he said, was further compounded by scarce talent and expensive experience; ageing workforce in the industry and slow pace of technology and knowledge transfer.
PTIG's vision and mission are therefore to be a competency/capacity building Centre of Excellence in integrated oil and gas engineering and sustainable energy studies; centre of international repute that will serve as a national manpower and adaptive research, technology development and resource centre for Ghana in particular, the West African sub-region and the international petroleum industry. The Institute will also create a pool of skilled and certified manpower for the oil industry.
For now, it will offer only 15-month or four-semester M. Sc and Post Graduate Diplomas in courses such as Petroleum, Well, Production, Subsea, as well as Pipeline and Riser Engineering. Others are Renewable Energy, Information Technology, as well as Refinery and LNG Technology, all of which could be either full-time or part-time and by distance learning.
Ghana was chosen, Agazuma said, for many reasons, the major being that the country is now an emerging oil producing nation. Though PTIG would be international, its nucleus of activities would be Ghana in all ramifications. "This has already manifested itself in the immense support and encouragement we have received."
The Traditional ruler of Takoradi, Osahene Katakyi Busumakura III, Takoradiman Hene, who was present at the forum, had already offered a large expanse of land for the permanent site of the Institute.
Also present at the forum were Ghana's Minister of Energy, Mr. Felix Kwasi Owusu-Adjapong, who gave a keynote address; Group Engineering Manager of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Engr. Francis Ackah, who represented the Group Managing Director, Mr. Moses Boateng and a number top oil and gas industry players, financial institutions and insurance companies, from Africa, the United Kingdom and United States of America; who have expressed readiness to partner with the Institute.
The Energy Minister said his ministry was fully aware of the challenges presented by the recent discovery of oil and gas in the country and that when fully operational, PTIG "would serve as a natural source of manpower, adaptive research, technology development and resource centre in addressing the challenges in the petroleum sector in Ghana and the West African sub-region."
Government, he said, was committed to ensuring that the policy on local content development and utilisation was diligently and duly pursued to ensure its citizens are adequately trained to acquire relevant competencies in order to ensure the constant availability of a pool of skilled manpower needed for the oil and gas industry.
"This, in my view is a way of also ensuring that Ghanaians have the right of first choice in every available job opportunity in the industry."
He therefore advised the promoters of the institute to adopt an integrated public-private-public partnership approach in training and development of the oil and gas industry. He also enjoined them "to be good corporate citizens, observe and obey the laws of the land, support your host community as you have pledged to do."
Engr. Ackah said, "It was a step in the right direction for PTIG to inform the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) about the project. With the discovery of oil, Ghana is now emerging on the International Oil Industry map and the need for qualified Engineers, Geoscientists, Managers, etc cannot be overemphasised."
According to him, the corporation currently has a MoU with Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to assist in the practical training of Petroleum Engineering graduates. He said he understood that PTIG would eventually be part of the proposed International Energy Centre (IEC), to be established at the KNUSC, with other institutes to address offshore and deepwater technology. "When PTIG has acquired all statutory and legal permits to operate in Ghana, GNPC will network and assist them whenever possible. We make note that other institutions and individuals have approached GNPC for similar assistance and collaboration to establish institutions for training manpower for the petroleum industry."
Takoradiman Hene remarked that he gave his support to the Institute because, until recently, the Western Region of Ghana, where his domain is, did not have a university. Even the one that it has came out of a School of Mines. A Ph. D holder, the Monarch said he had tried to establish a university and saw the establishment of PTIG as a fulfilment of his vision for his people. "I endorse this great work that you are doing because it not only brings education, but also employment to the Western Region. I want all stakeholders to do their best to support this project."
He however drew attention to the need for the promoters of the Institute to honour their social responsibility commitments to the catchment area.
Director of Abercom Energy Services, Limited, Edinburgh, which is the overall project and programme manager, Prof. Babs Oyeneyin presented the immediate, medium and long-term development plan of the Institute to the Forum.
Oyeneyin, who is also a member of the Institute's Board of Trustees said PTIG was starting with the masters programme to be able to take people with first degrees from existing universities experience the excellent training that it has to offer at the higher level; and also to cater for the existing experienced engineers, who were trained many years ago, but needed to update their skills since technology keeps changing. "This is quite flexible. They can go through the statutory professional development or even competency certification." Among others, the Institute, he said, would engage with stakeholders in the industry, not only to take useful advice that would ensure that the institute starts on a right footing, but to know what their needs are and how to meet them.
Other members of the Board of Trustees, who made presentations dwelling on the role of the PTIG, Growing the Human Resource Base for Indigenous Participation in the Oil and Gas Industry, Key Tools for Educational Development in Africa, among others; include, the Managing Director of OAG Technologies Ltd. Lagos, Dr. Moses Iyengunmwena; a Consultant with Lonadek Oil and Gas Consultants, Lagos, Dr. Ibilola Amao; a Manager with PSN, Aberdeen, John Bailey; Foster Wheeler's Vice President, Sub-Saharan Africa, Anita Omoile and Managing Director of Sigma Technical Agencies (Nigeria), Ltd, Port-Harcourt, Engr. Sokeiprim Amachree.