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Come Back Let’s Develop Ghana, Minister Tells Ghanaian Students In The UK
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Mike Allen Hammah, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources
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Ghanaian students studying in the UK over the weekend converged on the Coventry University campus for what has been described as one of the most successful conferences organized by Ghanaian students studying in the UK. The over four hundred students were hosted at the Technology Park's Techno Centre on Saturday for the event.

Students from the Universities of Dundee, Aberdeen, Sterling all from Scotland set off at about 10pm the previous night and drove beyond eleven hours through the cold night to Coventry to be part of the historic conference. The theme of the event was “Change Agents in National Development”

The choice of Mike Allen Hammah, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources as the special guest of honour, could not have been better as he took time to dissect the issue of government's commitment to have a well trained workforce for the emerging oil and gas industry.

According to him, “the development of a nation depends on its human resource" and the quality of that resource is crucial.

For this reason, he pointed out that "President Mills is re-orienting the educational philosophy of Ghana" to a more knowledge-based one which will use technology as a tool for development.

Mr. Hammah also insisted that the country cannot afford to crawl when others are flying or just about to take-off. He made a bold appeal to the gathered crowd to return home and take advantage of the prospects offered by country's nascent oil and gas sector.

The Minister told the students and other Ghanaian professionals at the conference that proceeds from the oil and gas enterprise will be dedicated to developing other sectors of the economy like transport, agriculture, health, education amongst others to enhance Ghana's growth and speedy emancipation from the fetters of poverty, disease and illiteracy.

The issue of how prepared Ghana will be by 2020 to enable it achieve its 90% local participation target in the highly skilled industry was also addressed.

Hon Mike Hammah was happy to announce the establishment of the Local Content Committee that will create a platform for addressing all local content matters. According to him, Monitoring and Evaluation of independent oil companies will also be carried out by the same Committee.

Touching on the Western region, which apparently holds the resource, and what it stands to gain from the discovery, the Minister hinted of cabinet's approval of the establishment of a small scale oil and gas set-up in the region which will be tasked to train youth from that part of the country, so they can also have a stake in the boom.

The United Kingdom alone has over one hundred Ghanaian students studying various programs at various levels on government sponsorship. Most of these students are reading courses related to oil and gas management at the graduate level.

Hon. Hammah said government requires about two hundred million dollars annually to train such students in these specialized areas, therefore government becomes the loser if the students fail to return home after studies to put into practice and impart what they have learned.

He mentioned that the State is being assisted by other countries and institutions in its manpower training agenda; Russia grants scholarships to Ghanaian students to study oil and gas and Tullow oil, one of the Jubilee partners, is also collaborating with the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, GNPC, under the Higher Advanced Study Program to train fourteen employees in exploration, in the UK.

According to him, government is also assisting the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, KNUST, in Kumasi to improve its petrochemical engineering teaching capabilities.

He revealed that the Energy Ministry has impressed upon the independent oil companies to take training of Ghanaians seriously so the country can take over management of the industry as targeted, by 2020.

He dismissed claims that this goal is overly ambitious. "I have no doubt in my mind that this will be achieved," the minister stated with cheers from the students.

Mr. Hammah, also MP for Effutu said government is in the process of drafting a legislation to give full backing to the local content policy. He intermittently paused to encourage Ghanaian professionals living abroad to return to their place of birth and contribute in its development.

He tried to woo them by espousing the nation's credentials of having a peaceful and investor-friendly atmosphere, and added that the GNPC, Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, Energy Ministry and other institutions collectively require about five thousand professionals in the oil and gas sector and concluded with a familiar phrase that “these can only be interesting times for Ghana."

The Conference held under the auspices of the Ghanaian High Commission and the Coventry University, had High Commissioner, HE professor Kwaku Danso-Boafo, Pro-vice Chancellor of CU, Professor David Pilsbury, in attendance.

Gordon Headly, the Chief HR Director at Tullow Oil, UK was also present. He touched on the human resource challenges of Ghana's oil industry and submitted that a huge space exists for Ghanaian professionals to fill in the sector.

Professor Akwasi Asabre-Ameyaw, Chairman of the Committee of Vice Chancellors Ghana and the current VC of the University of Education, Winneba, spoke passionately about opportunities in academia for interested and qualified persons. He gave heart-wrenching statistics about the urgency of the need, to buttress his point of the need for lecturers in Ghana’s universities.

The High Commissioner, HE Prof Danso-Boafo, underscored the importance of Ghanaian Students abroad in shaping events back home, mentioning the role Kwame Nkrumah and others played whilst studying abroad in aiding the independence struggle of Ghana.

The High Commissioner said these students have helped the country in introducing new methods and experiences in medicine, education, technology and social sciences which have helped in the nation's transformation in many respects.

He charged foreign trained graduates to champion research in ways of helping to eradicate poverty and disease from the country.

HE Danso-Boafo who has had a long and distinguished history in diplomacy and academia tasked the students to "acquire relevant knowledge and appropriate skills" so they can be "useful to nation-building."

He mentioned that the "oil find is opening up the economy for a major take-off and requisite human resource to sustain the industry should be pursued."

He concluded that the above stated reason is what has inspired government to put in resources to sponsor students in the field. The High Commissioner urged the students to set high goals for themselves and strive to achieve them.

Conventary University

A senior official at the High Commission, Mrs. Wilhelmina Asamoa, encouraged the students to register with the Commission and contact the Mission regularly so they (students) can be monitored and given assistance where necessary.

In the end, the students were excited about the enormity of information received and were full of praise for the organizers. They had time to ask questions and interact amongst themselves.

Some asked that the Conference be institutionalized so it becomes an annual affair. PRO of the University of Dundee Ghanaians Students Union, Onasis Kobby Rosely thanked the High Commission for facilitating their journey from Scotland to Coventry to be part of the

The President of the Coventry University, CU chapter of the GH students Union, Evans Gyasi said the conference should be the beginning of the change "we want to see in our country."

Students from the Universities of Manchester, Birmingham, Brunel, LSE, CU London Campus and several other schools also participated in the one day event.
Source: Selorm Adonoo

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