09 September 2013, Lagos – General Electric’s decision to localise its technical capabilities through identification of local talents will challenge other multinationals to key into the local content policy of the Federal Government, writes Festus Akanbi. Chimaroke Ibe is an Engineering Assistant at GE’s Onne facility. Like most young Nigerians graduates, he had hoped for an opportunity to work for a great company, earn a decent living and build a terrific career. Just as he had hoped, Chima is living his dreams. Thanks to GE’s Early Career Development Programme, ECDP.
Chimaroke is one of the many beneficiaries of GE’s commitment to localising its technical capabilities by identifying local talent and equipping them with the skills they need to support GE’s operations in Nigeria. “There’s so much to learn and I’m confident that with the experience I gain here, I can develop my skills and become a project engineer,” he says.
Cynthia Boyle studied Engineering at the University of Benin before joining the GE graduate programme in Onne. Her previous engineering job was more desk and computer based. Cynthia is also pleased with how the GE graduate programme is helping her apply her engineering knowledge in a practical way. She said; “I am very interested in control equipment and I have been learning a lot about this area. I have done a lot of pressure tests and sampling already, where we sample the lines to see they are working well. I am learning a lot about control processes.”
For Cynthia, the best part of the job so far has been seeing how every department comes together at the Onne facility to deliver service and products to the customer. Cynthia continued: “The real joy for me has been to see how everything works together and connects between the workshop and the other departments.” Cynthia’s long term goal is to become a design engineer. “My goal over the next few years is to gain more experience. I would like to become a design engineer looking at control design.”
Chima and Cynthia only tell a apart of the story of how GE is building capacity in indigenous human resources as it expands the scope and volume of its business in Nigeria.
GE disclosed that recently, 15 new Nigerian graduates joined the production and service facility in Onne and are undergoing induction at present. A ‘Back to Africa’ programme is encouraging potential recruits in the US and elsewhere to consider GE careers in Nigeria and other Sub-Saharan countries.
According to a statement from the company, GE’s long term ambition in Nigeria explains its deliberate policy of building capacity in indigenous talent. “We are not just here for the long haul, we are here to stay. Over time we expect to have the biggest GE footprint on the continent here and we intend to play a critical role in the development of Nigeria,” says GE Nigeria CEO and President, Dr. Lazarus Angbazo. According to him apart from the overriding business imperative, GE investments in Nigeria are about “building a competitive supply chain to support Nigeria’s growth in the global economy, the investments are about Technology transfer, job creation and human capital development; they are about changing lives wherever we go.”
GE Training Manager Oluwayemisi Fajemidagba who leads the identification and development of local Nigerian talent echoes the same thoughts.
According to her, “We are not only looking at the technical skills needed now, but also where technicians see themselves in 10 years and the skills they need to have as they progress in their career.” To ensure a consistent pipeline of technical talent, GE is planning to work with local technical colleges to ensure they have the technical resources to help new technicians get the right training. Building capacity in indigenous human capital is one leg of GE’s local content pivot.
The other leg is ensuring that a substantial part of the manufacturing and assembly operations happen locally as well.
The company stated further, “This is the thinking behind the game-changing $1billion investment in Calabar over the next 5 years. Last year, a state of the art gas-testing tank was built and two new 75 ton cranes installed at the GE Oil & Gas site in Onne River states. The tank was the first of such testing facilities in the country.
“This investment meant a 20-strong Nigerian ‘New Generation’ technical team at Onne could start work on the first ever part assembly of high technology subsea ‘Christmas trees’, destined for the SNEPCO Bonga oil field off the West African coast.”
“Christmas Trees” are highly sophisticated deep sea mining equipment named for its crude resemblance to a decorated tree. As experience is gained on the Onne plant, the team will also start to work on additional aspects of tree production such as insulating the equipment, manufacturing the tree framework and engineering design.
In recognition of these giant strides, GE Oil & Gas Subsea Systems business achieved a Nigerian Content Equipment Certificate. Valid for 12 months, the certification is only awarded to companies who demonstrate good progress in the development of manufacturing capabilities in Nigeria. In addition, a significant percentage of local content value must be proved for a specific product line or piece of equipment.
Emeka Sunday manages Nigerian Content Development and Community Relations for GE. According to him, the recent local content certification validates the premium GE places on local content in the country and across the wider region.”
He says GE’s deliberate and holistic approach to local content is a game changer for a number of its stake holders– suppliers, vendors, technical training institutions and of course young University graduates like Cynthia and Chimaroke.
– This Day