The Ministry for Energy and Petroleum is to establish a Small and Medium Scale Enterprise (SME) Centre, for the promotion of small businesses in the sector. The idea is to expand more avenues and consultation services for local participation in businesses associated with Ghana’s oil discovery.
Minister designate for the sector, Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah made the announcement last week, when he appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament for vetting, as part of the processes leading to his approval and confirmation for the position. He was answering questions on measures he intends to put in place to ensure that more Ghanaians benefit from the country’s oil find.
“As I speak to you the Ministry of Energy is working to help small businesses and very soon when I get the chance this is what I’m going to work on with the folks at the ministry, to set up an SME Center where small businesses can come and learn and be able to tender for jobs in the industry. It will also help them to create ways to be able to build their own businesses and also help people who are doing their own business,” he stated.
He is convinced that the establishment of the centre is the way to go if the private sector is to make any gains in the industry. He believes among others that the time has come for young people to be guided on how to take advantage, by establishing themselves in the oil and gas industry, and the SME Centre, according to him, will serve that purpose.
For Hon. Buah, helping with the strategy to compete for jobs, will show them the avenues for financing in this industry that needs a lot of money. “We can get to that level by also harnessing the gas and making sure we have the opportunity to create more industries; that is the key and I believe that we are in the right direction on that and if I get the opportunity I’m going to continue working to ensure that we create the avenues and make the industry a little big so that we can absolve more of our people.”
He was excited about the gains that have been made in the industry since significant oil was discovered in 2007 to date and said “We can continue to do exactly the same thing but at a very high standard. But it is also very important that we work with young people to understand that these are things we have to do- working with the private sector.”
Hon. Buah touched on how important it is for the people of Ghana to take control of the industry and manage the resources well to the benefit of all.
“This was clearly the objective when we discovered oil; when we discovered oil we knew that we had to find a way to protect the money we get; we have to make sure we protect the environment and we have to make sure that the people of Ghana are in the forefront of this industry; that is local content and local participation,” Hon. Buah told the House.
He expressed satisfaction at having worked as a deputy minister with the former minister to bring about the local content policy and to ensure that there is a regulator to police the industry and thanks to MPs, the Petroleum Commission Act was passed.
“Now we have the Petroleum Commission in place to make sure that expatriates that are working in the industry are being policed. Service companies and oil companies on annual basis would have local content plans that we would say that ‘yes I have 50 expatriates but I’m training 50 Ghanaians, and it is going to take three years to replace them, etcetera, etcetera”
He hinted also of the establishment of an Immigration Desk at the Petroleum Commission with personnel trained to understand the petroleum industry to serve as a reference point to companies who want to recruit professionals.
“We have to continue to build our capacity to be able to address the related challenges but obviously once we have discovered oil there are critical areas that we would need this expatriates in this specialized service, but we are working to make sure that we have Ghanaians trained to have the capacity to be at the forefront of this industry,” he stated.
The Minister designate however warned Ghanaians to be moderate in their expectations since the process to make the country own the industry is still in progress: “The real jobs in the oil and gas industry are with the industry. That is why the President is so focused on harnessing the gas infrastructure because the key is to addressing our power needs first before making sure that we move to the next step, by using the gas to help strengthen our agriculture industry, fertilizer plant, industries like the Aboso glass factory and associated companies.”
He said the priority for the industry had been to make sure that strong regulations are in place like the one that established the Petroleum Commission.
“We are making sure that we strengthened legislation and build our capacity to police this industry.
There is a lot of work that has been done in that area but we must ensure that we continue to ensure that the oil find becomes a blessing,”
Hon. Buah said the country must ensure that the industry created jobs, that the oil revenue is used to support critical sectors of our economy, agriculture, health and other sectors of industry so as to be able to look back and say that as we discovered oil we built all these infrastructure.
“All we have done is intended to create jobs in the long term; the gas infrastructure that is currently going on for instance is intended to address our power issues that is affecting small businesses and is intended to create more jobs. Once we finish this first step we have to go to fertilizer, create job in agriculture and petro-chemical industry. When given the nod 1 will consolidate the gains we’ve made with vigilance,” he stated.
He said the Ministry is working with the Energy Commission and other agencies on a strategic gas policy that will determine the country’s needs for the future. Work is also ongoing on other legislations to parliament with the view to strengthening the local content legislation, health and safety law among other legislation.
Source: The Business Analyst