Petroleum and natural gas: generating jobs in East Africa

28.01.2016 – The extractive sector is booming in East Africa, leading to a corresponding rise in demand for labour. GIZ is working to ensure that the jobs needed are created locally. The project is partly funded by the UK firm BG Group.

One of the world’s biggest natural gas fields lies off the coast of Mozambique and Tanzania. Kenya and Uganda have deposits of both natural gas and petroleum. The responsible exploitation of these resources can help to drive sustainable development across East Africa provided that national budgets are boosted by the revenue generated from extraction licences and local people also share in the economic benefits. The petroleum and natural gas industry needs suppliers and service providers, and that means jobs and training opportunities.

The public-private partnership entitled Skills for Oil and Gas in Africa (SOGA) was set up by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It aims to create around 32,000 jobs in four East African countries by the year 2019. The project is being implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. It is part of a BMZ programme covering eight African countries that aims to generate sufficient employment, decent incomes and better living conditions for local people.

The initiative’s partners include suppliers and contractors as well as partner country governments and international oil companies. The UK firm BG Group, which has acquired natural gas concessions in Tanzania, is providing USD 1.5 million towards the project, making it the first private-sector contributor. ‘The initiative makes it possible to pool technical expertise and financial resources. None of the actors involved would be in a position to do this on their own,’ explains BG Group’s Ramanie Kunanayagam.

‘Wherever you are in the world, the level of demand for highly specialised workers in the petroleum and natural gas sectors is very predictable,’ says Sonja Palm for GIZ, ‘and these workers are trained by the private sector companies themselves, almost without exception.’ For this reason, she explains, the initiative is not targeting this particular area of employment. It aims instead to promote jobs and training opportunities ‘across the board’, i.e. jobs that are needed throughout the country.

With regard to suppliers, for example, the petroleum and natural gas industry needs a huge amount of scaffolding as well as safety jackets and protective helmets. Rather than importing these from other countries, the aim is to produce them in the East African countries themselves. Working with the initiative’s private-sector partners, GIZ selects appropriate service providers and helps them to train up skilled workers and increase their capacity to meet demand. The companies involved have their own certification procedures to check the quality of the products and services provided. This approach generates know-how and jobs at local level, and these are potentially transferable to other sectors. ‘We are particularly active in the construction, services, food and utilities sectors and in the field of information and communications technology,’ says Palm.