The Ministry of Energy through the Petroleum Commission (PC) has held a day’s consultative forum for hundreds of welders in the Central Region.
The forum, first held in Takoradi in the Western Region, brought together local artisans, academic institutions, students and media personnel across the region.
The forum sought to solicit stakeholders’ views on the PCs resolve to establish the Ghana Welding Bureau (GWB), an autonomous non-profit professional institute to among others, empower Ghanaian artisans to take over the local content of the petroleum sector which is largely dominated by foreigners.
The GWB was established to oversee the development of the welding industry in Ghana and provide certified and internationally trained welding professionals for the oil and gas industry and other sectors of the economy.
The GWB pursues this objective through the creation of platforms for education, training, qualification, and certification of personnel involved in welding technology and allied technologies through the exchange of scientific and technical information.
The engagement was in tandem with government’s agenda to train Ghanaians for available job roles in the upstream oil and gas sector through the Accelerated Oil and Gas Capacity Building Programme.
It was also a key step to achieving the global competitiveness required for Ghanaian skills for certification and standards to be affiliated to the International Welding body.
Taking the participants through the GWB framework, Mr Mustapha Hameed, Manager of GWB, said welding as a technical skilled person was not only relevant in the upstream petroleum industry, but also other industries, such as manufacturing and agriculture.
“To take over the commanding heights of the economy, Ghanaians must be equipped to occupy important areas in the job market,” he added.
However, he lamented how the Ghanaian welding industry remained aside informal and dominated by ‘street welders’ and saddled with many challenges.
“The industry is poorly structured and regulated. There is lack of qualified and accredited training institutions, and there is a situation of almost zero regard for health, safety and environmental matters,” he stated.
He maintained that the challenges continued to fester because of lack of professional body to regulate the vocation in the country.
This, he said, necessitated the establishment of the Ghana Welding Bureau, which was mandated among other things to provide regulatory direction and certification for the welding vocation in line with international best and acceptable practices.
He was hopeful that the initiative would help many Ghanaians in the welding industry to qualify for jobs in the oil and gas sector, since activities in the sector were highly regulated and certified.
“Apart from minimising the loss of revenue to Ghana due to non-availability of internationally certified welders, it is a major step to support President Akufo-Addo’s industrialisation agenda,” he noted.
Earlier, in a welcome address, Mr Egbert Faibille Jnr, the Chief Executive Officer of the Petroleum Commission, said welding and pipefitting were identified by the Commission as technical areas in which Ghana lagged.
“We have expatriate welders and pipefitters coming to do job roles in our upstream petroleum sector,” he said.
Recounting how Ghana had lost revenue to expatriates in the past, Mr Faibille said three years ago, a company that won a contract to carry out a major pipe-laying project in Ghana sought to bring in 200 expatriate welders and pipefitters.
“The justification was that Ghana had no welders and pipefitters of acceptable standard. In the end, though, the Commission was able to reduce the number that was to be brought in from 200 to 120 welders/pipefitters; though the number, in our consideration, was too high.”
He stated that the Ghana Welding Bureau will collaborate with relevant stakeholders such as Vocational and technical schools to offer courses in that regard.
Mr Ishmael Addo, Chairman of Garages in Cape Coast lauded the Petroleum Commission for spearheading the initiative and called for an Act of Parliament to back the initiative.