17 May 2018

Kenya Trains Welders to Replace Chinese Workers on Oil Pipeline

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Kenya will Monday start British accredited training of oil pipeline welders to ease skills shortage that forced the country to ship in Chinese, Nigerian and Lebanese workers.

The World Bank will fund the welders' training ahead of commissioning of the new Sh43 billion Nairobi-Mombasa pipeline and the construction of the 820-kilometre crude oil pipeline between Lokichar and Lamu expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2021.

The plan comes amid skills shortages in the sector that recently pushed the country to ship in about 50 Chinese, Nigerians and Lebanese workers to construct the new Sh43 billion Nairobi-Mombasa refined oil pipeline.

Global consultancy firm-- Accelerate to Excellence (A2E)--has been tapped to conduct the training of 12 welders from Kenya Pipeline Company and accredited in the UK.

"The 12 will be upgraded to trainers and will be expected to train other welders to a level where they can receive internationally accredited certification," said Stephen Kuria, the managing director of A2E, at ongoing oil and gas conference at University of Nairobi.

"This is to prepare them for the opportunities that are set to arise in the oil and gas industry and cut reliance on expatriates."

A2E is affiliated to the Australia Africa Energy and Minerals Institute (AAEMI), which will provide Australian trainers for the World Bank- backed training at Kenya Pipeline oil and gas training school at its Morendat facility in Naivasha. The 12 will be accredited and join the UK's Lloyd register of welders.

Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) said the country has only three specialised pipeline welders, prompting the Lebanese contractor to outsource.

The short supply of the technicians has been blamed on growing shift of focus among learners towards degree courses perceived to lead to white-collar jobs while snubbing technical and vocational training.

The government has in recent years upgraded several national polytechnics to universities, amid concerns over a shrinking pool of certified technicians.

Lebanon's Zakhem built the new 20-inch Nairobi-Mombasa pipeline set to be opened in July to replace the aging one, which was constructed by the same company in 1978.

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