Discussions are continuing between Nigeria and Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) to provide training for Nigerian and Ugandan nationals in the energy sector, Fazal Karim, minister of Tertiary Education and Skills Training, announced Tuesday. Karim had suggested to Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan when the president visited in August 2012 for Emancipation Day celebrations that a training institute be established in Nigeria. Talks between the two countries have been ongoing since then.
Karim was speaking after the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding between MIC Institute of Technology and the Petroleum Institute of Kigumba, which was held at the headquarters of the Tertiary Education Ministry, Port-of-Spain International Waterfront Centre, Tower C.
“We have T&T companies that are operating in Uganda and Nigeria, and those are the ones making the contact. I want to tell you that I am deeply grateful to those citizens who are seeking those opportunities and being the intermediary to connect our two societies. We are going to pursue these discussions relentlessly,” Karim said. While the ministry has not pinpointed a location for the training institute in those countries, Karim said contacts have been made.
Asked whether the ministry would be requesting increased funds in the 2014/2015 budget due to the magnitude of this project and other projects in his ministry, Karim said: “We will be asking for additional sums because we feel it is critically important. One of the major mechanisms for diversification has to be the knowledge-based economy.” Professor Charles Kwesiga, executive director of the Uganda Industrial Research Institute, said Uganda had set up a Petroleum Institute but encountered some teething problems and needed assistance.
“We have existing institutions so they (T&T government) are not looking for starting points. We are not starting from the ground. We agree we need that uplift; we need that support to enhance what we already have started building. The Petroleum Institute was started in 2010, and we have suffered growing pains. So if we are (moving) at a slow pace, it is because we are starting something new in that field because we didn’t have oil before. We have started an institute which needs collaboration with T&T to jump-start and lift all these growing pains so we can be an established entity.”
Kwesiga added: “There are huge benefits on both sides. While we learn, one of the best attributes that T&T can proudly claim is the ability in which you have indigenized the oil sector. The benefit for T&T is that you have experienced companies that should come and compete for business. Why can’t T&T come to Nigeria and work with your brothers and sisters from the continent?”
The two parties signed a MoU for the planning and organizing of academic/technical programs and courses and the organizing of seminars, workshops and conferences that would include technical training for engineers and training and certification of welding inspectors.