Local Content Vision Uncertain Without Change in Culture

06 July 2020
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By Mike Adams, EDGE Co-founder.

The long-term success and survival of the Oil & Gas sector will depend as much on a change in culture as it will on new discoveries, technology and cost efficiency.

The success of the industry has relied heavily on emerging markets over recent decades, but as much as the industry has talked about supporting new regions and developing talent, in practice it has fought to hold onto old ways.

Local content legislation across Africa has gone some way to correct this, but we are far away from effective implementation and compliance across the board.

If the current course is not corrected we risk creating lopsided workforces with limited professional ranks, stifling the ambition of smaller national operators and service companies and wasting precious time and energy as IOCs fight the system.

What needs to change?

I believe that many IOCs still view local content policy as a barrier, as something “to be overcome” when doing business in Africa. I want to see the concept of “as close as possible” integration with the local workforce become a core value for IOCs that is proudly adopted. While there may be short-term challenges, the sooner companies embrace integration with the local workforce and accept that people will need to be trained and supported the more successful they will be.

To get to this place we require a change in culture. We need people at the top table within IOCs who share this view, who accept that local content policy can be a successful part of doing business in Africa and are modern in their approach to diversity and inclusion in Oil & Gas.

On the other hand, I also believe there must be change from national governments. They are the first to point out the failings of IOCs but are not so vocal when it comes to their own poor governance, transparency and mismanagement of funds earmarked to support training and development.

Each dollar that is diverted away hurts the people on the ground who need support. The change required to correct this poor governance is huge, but we could go a long way by inviting IOCs and independent organisations such as the Energy Institute or API to help administer these training funds. There is also much to be added by closer collaboration between regional neighbours, many of whom could offer cross-border training in the unique skills they have built up.

All stakeholders have a role to play

Significant change is needed, but each individual stakeholder can play a part in improving the status quo.

For us at Norwell EDGE, as a modern training business, we are trying to lower the cost of technical training and open it up to more people than ever before. We want to make it easier for both IOCs and government to effectively invest in training and skills development.

Companies want to work with skilled personnel and national government wants to find a way to effectively train individuals to meet those needs.

While there’s no silver bullet, lowering the cost of training and increasing its accessibility will go a long way in solving the local content challenges many countries face. If we can provide wide-scale training at a drastically reduced cost, we will see many more people able to participate in the workforce.

This is where technology such as eLearning can play such a critical role – making knowledge more accessible, breaking down barriers and democratising training in the process.


Photocredit: credit: businesspost.ng