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Effect of Pandemic On Local Content, Seeks Govt, Industry Collaboration

Energy Management and Automation firm, Schneider Electric has called for organizations to deepen local content in the oil and gas industry, during discussions at the Practical National Content organized by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, NCDMB, recently in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

The outbreak of Covid-19 last year led to lockdowns in various countries and restrictions on international travels. Akindele admonished the industry not to “let a good crisis go to waste”, but rather think of ways of doing things differently. He said the pandemic presented an opportunity for companies to domicile skills and capabilities in Nigeria within Nigerians. Noting that, during the pandemic, there were restrictions in travel as well as repatriations, hence most expatriates could not come to Africa.

He noted however, that the pandemic afforded Schneider Electric the opportunity to upskill local engineers, adding that the Nigeria office of the company recorded some of the highest training man-hours during the period of the pandemic.

“It was a great opportunity to train our teams and provide exposure to some of the most complex projects. It was important that we localized resources. And for the part of our business that covers oil and gas, we are domesticating key skills in Nigeria to support the whole of Africa. We are establishing two Centres of Excellence – one for our Digital solutions and the other for our LNG solutions” he said.

He also urged companies to have a long-term focus in their recruitment as this will ensure that the aging workforce have the time to transfer knowledge to the younger professionals. He also advocated for formal mentorship programs so that experienced professionals could mentor the younger ones. This is to ensure knowledge transfer.

Akindele also called for collaboration between the oil and gas industry, the government, and the academia to deepen Research and Development in Nigeria.

Noting that currently, R&D in Nigeria is a bit disjointed, he called for collaboration between the industry, government, and academia. He stressed that academia needs to conduct research that is relevant to industry and the government should drive policies that will promote R&D.

“We cannot overemphasize the role that R&D plays. If you look at the developed countries in the world (the U.S, Germany, China, Japan), they are responsible for 64 percent global R&D spend. And it is intentional. About 2.5 to 4 percent of their GDP goes into R&D. And if you looked at less developed countries, it is in the region of 0.2 – 0.9 percent of GDP.

“When a country invests in R&D, that country is able to innovate, leap-frogging other countries, which makes the country richer. It is directly linked to the growth of your GDP. Makes absolute sense! If you don’t invest in R&D, you will continue to be a consumer, unfortunately,” he said.

He urged organizations to support investments in R&D by investing in basic research, funding University endowments and professorial chairs, creating centers of excellence and supporting the commercialization of patents.

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