Education, Enlightenment, Empowerment, Engagement and Entrepreneurship for Sustainable & Local Content Development
For effective implementation of any Local Content Act, stakeholder engagement at the grassroots needs to be improved upon so that there is a buy-in and sense of ownership right from the lowest individual in any community to the leadership therein. I am not sure that the primary persons concerned in the resource rich communities are in the full picture of what good luck, fortune and divine favour is bestowed upon them by the passing of a Local Content Act. Neither is the general public or teeming youth well versed on the content of such law and regulation.
What does a local content Act mean to the youth who are more likely to become destructive, militant or terrorist if they lack a sense of stakeholdership? Not much. Most times they are not aware of the existence of such a law. Quite honestly, a lot needs to be done if youths are to have an understanding about how they can benefit from new investment in their community. More so, especially if operations and maintenance services throughout the life span of the asset far outweighs that of the construction phase. If well enlightened and empowered, with the right competencies to deliver quality goods and services, the law puts empowered stakeholders in a position of “right-of-first-refusal” provided they can meet the high technology requirements of industries. Supporting and securing new investments in community’s guarantees jobs. This is where collaboration and partnerships with non-indigenes come to play so that the chance of security and safety being an issue becomes minimal. Unfortunately when Community Liaison Officers see youth as a nuisance and their job as a mere assignment, plans or systems, initiatives fail. Community determined initiatives tend to have more impact than the “copy-and-paste” recommendations that most multinationals try to implement. If it has worked somewhere before, it may not likely work out successfully in another jurisdiction. The frustrated or unemployed youths, needs to be encouraged and motivated to take up a tangible role in the success of projects. The need to appreciate laws, regulations, directives and government pronouncements means little or nothing to someone who is unaware of its benefits, neither enlightened nor empowered to use the law to one’s advantage thus youths need to be enlightened and empowered.
Non-governmental groups and organizations should be engaged to create awareness about opportunities to the youth appropriately. Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms are required to connect with youth. Stars in music, media and entertainment need to engage them to see the opportunities that exist in regular jobs There is a need to invest in creating awareness through the print and news media also. Fliers and posters are required in local languages of the area to announce to the communities the importance of a sound education, good character, values and how this can ensure that they tap into opportunities that abound in industries. A skills gap analysis with more emphasis on operations and maintenance must be conducted for every job creating industry that would be remotely located so that the locals are counselled to determine who fits best into what? Unemployed youths must be strategically prepared for the job positions available through the required processes that would convert natural resources and raw materials in to finished products. Highly specialised indigenes and skilled local workforce required for successful operations must be prepared months and years ahead of the facility being operational. It is important to undertake a skills gap analysis alongside an environmental impact assessment of any project so that locals are prepared and nurtured to take up key positions within a reasonable timeframe if the community must take ownership of the project.
To the aged, this should be a breather: jobs, employment, and wealth will return to the communities if the employable are aware, empowered and enlightened. The environment which had suffered from a mass exodus through migration to cities would have activities restored to attract the best talent back home.
The onus thus lies on the community leadership structure and government to guarantee safety and security of assets and investment. Inspite of what the law requirements are, any business focussed investor would require a high level of peace, order, security and tranquillity before they commit to set up their business in such communities. Engagement of members of the community in value creating and mutually beneficial activities is the best guarantee for the security of assets. This implies that a proactive investor company or project promoter would see investment in human resource capital as a primary commitment it must make to enjoy successful operations. By inference the brightest and the best, hardworking, focussed, committed, diligent and determined locals who would work hard and contribute to the assets viability should be identified and made beneficiaries of a merit-based system that produces the workforce for the industry.
The above submissions, inferences and thoughts would only come to pass if:
- The leadership in emerging economies put the restoration of human dignity, morals and value before their short-term unsustainable gains which manifests in a myopic, get rich quick syndrome.
- Community leadership does begin to think long-term and take the bull by the horn to restore peace, tranquillity and safety to their area.
- The top leadership focus on Youth Empowerment, Employability and Job Creation.
- Transparency, honesty and integrity in the award of contracts are deployed to ensure that every amount disbursed is judiciously spent.
- All contract awarded under the largesse of government or private sector partnership should be made public, published in the papers as an indication of the commitment of leadership to transparency and accountability.
- Education, Enlightenment, Empowerment, Engagement and Entrepreneurship of locals in the area of the industry is backed by awareness creation, career counselling and investment in the development of the workforce of tomorrow.
- Law and order is restored and an attitude of zero tolerance for abandoned or failed projects is inculcated into leadership.
- Bribery and corruption should become a crime that is punishable with a long-term jail sentence and total disgrace to ones family and people.
- As a matter of urgency, the stake holders and in particular the leadership team in the African sub region and emerging economies as well as IOC’s should go into partnership for the rapid development of vocationals, through skills acquisition programmes.
We look forward to the use of enlightenment and empowerment programmes designed for the indigenes of the community as a vehicle of sustainable and local content development that will transform and rehabilitate resource rich communities in emerging economies.
About the Author
Dr. Ibilola Amao is the Principal Consultant with Lonadek Consultants; a firm of technical consultants with their core competence in Sustainable and Local Content Development in Energy, Power, Infrastructure, Oil and Gas activities. Ibilola is a STEM, Youth and Women Entrepreneurship promoter. For more information or to reach Dr. Amao you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.lonadek.com.