Monday, April 9, 2012
MFANTSEMAN TAKES ADVANTAGE ON OIL OPPORTUNITY
Oil is driving more than just cars in the Mfantseman Municipal District. It is driving a new wave of training and investment opportunities.
Home to the first oil rig in Ghana, Mfantseman does not yet have the technological capacity for commercially viable production. Currently producing about 500 barrels a day, Municipal Chief Executive Kweku Hayfron said recent seismic assessments revealed greater oil potential off Saltpond’s shores – should the government, which owns the rig, Ghana’s first, invest in the right type of technologies.
While such investment is not yet a priority for governments at any level, as world oil supplies dwindle, it could become more feasible.
The greater oil production potential off Saltpond, along with the discovery of vast oil deposits in the Western Region, has Hon. Hayfron excited about the potential for growth and investment in his district for the benefit of all its residents.
At the heart of all his plans is a desire to encourage young people to undertake training – particularly in sectors that support big oil, such as fabrication, tourism and hospitality, supplies and, even, housing – so that Mfantseman can capitalise on the opportunities presented by Ghana’s fledgling oil business.
Already, the municipality takes advantage of Ghana’s reputation for educational quality among West African nations, with students from the Niger Delta in Nigeria coming to Briwa Vocational Training Centre for nine months to learn the skills necessary to support the oil industry in Nigeria.
One of the graduating students told CENTRAL PRESS it was important Ghana trained its own people to capitalise on the oil industry. Part of the reason for the troubles with kidnapping and piracy off Nigeria’s coast, he said, was that the Nigerian government failed to listen to the people when they begged for a greater share of oil profits to stay in the country. This, the student said, was why some Nigerians took matters into their own hands and became pirates. Had the Nigerian government invested in training so that average Nigerians, rather than just big oil multinationals, could also benefit from the oil there, things may have been different, he said.
As far as training local young people in oil industry-related skills, Hon. Hayfron said: “The intake of people is not that high. In terms of training for the oil business, as we speak, we do not have any [schools or courses in oil].”
However, the Management, Development and Productivity Institute (MDPI) encourage the sponsorship of students to learn such skills.
“We have been encouraging young people to undertake training. We have four or five who are going to the Maritime Academy to get oil-related courses,” Hon. Hayfron said.
“Because the oil industry is new, it will take some time.”
One of the big challenges to the district, and nationally, he said, was making young people understand the benefit of training.
It is a sentiment Hon. Hayfron, who estimated the difference in daily pay was 10 cedis for labourers and 40 cedis for skilled trades people, agreed with.
He said the new Rural Technology Facility, commissioned in December last year in the district, was an example of the efforts his administration was making to invest in its young people.
“Once we train people, industry can grow,” Hon. Hayfron said.
“A lot of our youth do not have anything to do.”
This was “creating a big problem” nationally, and something his administration was trying to combat locally.
Hon. Hayfron said another of the ways the municipality was looking capitalise on the new oil industry was tourism.
Already, he said, the district had “several great resorts” at which those working on the big rigs in the Western Region could take their holidays and spend their tourism cedis locally.
“We also want to encourage investors to put up more hotels,” he said.