Nigeria recently claimed the title of largest economy in Africa, with a gross domestic product of $510 billion - underscoring its tremendous economic potential and the opportunity to improve livelihoods by promoting peace and further economic growth.
Private companies have a role to play in this story. The energy industry, in particular, should continue to be a major contributor to social and economic development.
Societal expectations have never been higher, and companies need to advance economic opportunity for communities where they do business by creating jobs, hiring local workers, and developing their skills and capabilities through on-the-job training.
The oil-rich Niger Delta is the source of 80 percent of Nigeria's revenues. Having been part of this community for a long time, we are familiar with the challenges facing the region – from limited economic growth to uncertain conditions of security and peace.
We've also seen the positive, sustainable impact we can have on economic development as a private-sector entity. We do this not only through philanthropy, but also through a strategic, partnership-based approach to help create prosperity - now and for generations to come.
In Nigeria, we approach our social investments with the view that public-private partnerships are critical for successful economic development. But those partnerships are necessary, as well, for creating an enabling environment for business.
One example of this is the Niger Delta Partnership Initiative (NDPI), established in 2010 as a five-year, $50-million endowment by Chevron. Over time, this investment grew to $100 million after being matched by partner funding.
Since inception, this model - which focuses on removing systemic constraints that can lead to poverty and conflict - has involved 172 local and international partners and has directly affected
more than 10,000 people.
Organizations such as the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United Nations Development Programme and others have supported these projects with best practices, global credibility and local reach, magnifying the impact.
Over the past four years, NDPI has trained more than 5,500 people, created more than 600 new jobs and stimulated new growth sectors in the local economy. Job creation, increased incomes for residents through improved productivity and efficiency are helping to break the cycle of poverty and conflict that has been a root cause of some of the region's problems.
Encouraged by NDPI's initial success and looking to the future, Chevron is reinforcing its long-term support by pledging an additional $40 million over the next five years to expand and build-out successful programs and practices that have laid the groundwork for transformative change. This additional funding brings the company's total investment in NDPI to $90 million, the largest social investment in the corporation's history.
Four years in, NDPI has identified key factors for success.
- First, work closely with the community to identify pressing local needs and understand where the company's support can have the biggest impact
- Second, create effective programs that address these needs and build local capacity.
- Third, generate local ownership of the projects and long-term buy-in to enable local organizations to sustain the beneficial outcomes.
The additional funding will allow NDPI to take all this learning forward and expand projects. This is a long process in which the path to success requires strong, committed participation from governments, businesses, nonprofit organizations and communities doing business in Nigeria.
The shared vision that is built into the NDPI model is crucial to socioeconomic success in the Niger Delta. Together, NDPI and its partners have made great strides and will continue to implement projects that help move the region toward shared prosperity.
Ali Moshiri is president of Chevron Africa and Latin America Exploration and Production Company