Enterprise Development CentreIt is projected that in the next five years about US$20billion will be invested into the upstream sector of petroleum activities.

The goal is to ensure that Ghanaian SMEs will get a fair share of this investment, which indeed will translate into transformation of Ghanaian business, job-creation and overall expansion of the economy.

?This is the only way that the oil and gas discoveries can be a blessing to all,? Mr. Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah, the Minister of Energy and Petroleum, said at the inauguration of an Enterprise Development Centre at Takoradi (EDC), an initiative of  Government to act as a focal point for coordination between the oil and gas companies and SMEs.

?We believe that with the inauguration of the centre, the old mantra of Ghanaian SMEs not meeting international standards of the oil and gas companies will be a thing of the past,? he said.

According to him, the centre will also encourage other international companies to establish offices in the region, in order for them to utilise local goods and services as well as open-up opportunities for other sectors — such as mining, aviation and the wider economy — with attendant linkage effects.

The centre?s activities will not remain an enclave for the oil and gas sector but rather open up opportunities for other sectors such as mining, aviation, petrochemicals and the wider economy — again, with the attendant linkage effects.

This involves providing a range of services such as business training, capacity-building programmes, advisor services, and access to market information among others — the Jubilee partners have agreed to fund establishment and running of the centre for five years.

Ms Shika Acolatse, the EDC Centre Director, explained that the centre will provide various business development services to SMEs to develop skills and capability to compete in the oil and gas industry.

?Services to be provided by EDC will include business development programmes including coaching and arranging for third-parties to provide specialist consultancy among others, aimed at helping to develop skills and capabilities to international standards as well as advise SMEs on how they can market their capabilities to serve as suppliers to the Oil and Gas sector,? she said.

Also, EDC will provide consultancy to SMEs regarding the process of bidding for contracts, and act as an intermediary between SMEs and International Oil Companies. To this end, Ms Acolatse emphasised that the collaboration and commitment of International Oil Companies is crucial to the success of the EDC.  

She pointed out that the EDC is part of the core components of the Local Content and Local Participation in Petroleum Activities Policy of the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum.

Mr. Ebenezer Teye Addo, the Western Regional Minister, noted that whenever local firms compete on the international level for opportunities, they lose out in most cases.

This, he said, can be explained by one shortcoming — which is lack of the appropriate skill-mix to meet the demands of competition.  “I hope the centre will enable individuals to compete favourably for local and international contracts.

?My appeal to the centre is for it to focus on its core mandate and offer courses and programmes that are relevant to the investment market — at fees that are within the reach the up-and-coming local firms,? he added.

 Mr. Edwin Nii Lantey Vanderpuye, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, said the EDC is consistent with the wider national strategy of strengthening the private sector, and particularly local SMEs, to grow on a sustainable basis and to drive the viable development of the oil and gas industry.

Mr. Dai Jones, General Manager and President of Tullow Ghana, represented the Jubilee Partners.

By Juliet AGUIAR, Takoradi

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