SEBI advances the Conversation on Local Content

29th August, 2018 0 comments

The University of Guyana, School of Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation (SEBI) in partnership with Ground Structures Engineering Consultants Inc. (GSEC), FUGRO, Guyana Goldfields, Worley Parson and the Guyana Telephone, Telegraph Company recently held a local content forum titled “Local Content: A Mechanism for Capacity Building towards Enhanced National Development.

The two day forum which was held from July 23-24, 2018 at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, had over 250 participants. It was intended to educate the Guyanese populace on what is Local Content, answer questions and queries on how local content policies can be beneficial to the government, private sector, local communities and more so how it can facilitate the national development of Guyana.

Presentations were made by international, regional and local speakers, who shared their knowledge, research and experience, in an effort to generate a common understanding of the potential benefits of local content policies and the conditions that led to successful outcomes of nations around the world.

The event’s programme discussed several topics including: Local Content and Economic Growth, Combating the Dutch Disease, Skill Development and Knowledge Transfer through Local Content Policy, social consequences of Oil and Gas discovery, Building Sustainable Business through Local Content, Local Content and the Environment, and Educational Investment and Local Content Policy.

Concerns were highlighted on how local businesses can be affected by the local content policy, what new business opportunities can emerge as a result of policy and how this will affect the way in which business is done in Guyana, with particular emphasis on national development goals around the green economy.

Professor Leyland Lucas, Dean of SEBI, in his address said “I am concerned that there are two things happening in our nation today, a great deal of noise about what local content is and its implications for our development and the development of the future generations.” He continued: “The flipside of this is silence, an unwillingness to educate ourselves over the past few months about what local content is, what it means for our current lives and our lives in the future and what it means for generations to come, and so somewhere between that silence and that noise lies education.” He went on to further note the importance of education to understanding issues of local content. Local content is not just about doing business with oil and gas entities, it’s about building competencies and capabilities needed to transform this nation into a Green Economy.

The University of Guyana’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Ivelaw Griffith in his opening remarks opined “Many of us are uncomfortable with the mediocrity we see in society, the cutting of professional corners, charging clients for one thing but giving them substandard product and service, we have got to practice what Aristotle recommended many years ago, when he said ‘we are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act it is a habit.’ ’’ He noted: “If we don’t strive for continuous improvement we will be lamenting losing in our own nation, because others coming to seek the fortune here know of the value of excellence, know of the value of being on time.”

Mr. Charles Ceres, CEO, GSEC in his keynote address noted said that “Local content policies must provide resources to The University of Guyana to ensure an appropriate curriculum is developed to train persons to address both the current needs of the natural resources sector and transference of those skills to other sectors of the economy.” He asserted: “Companies operating in the natural resources sector must be involved in development of a local content policy. Their involvement must be predicated on a commitment by these companies, both local and foreign, to the training and development of individuals to increase the pool of locals who can work in the natural resources sector while ensuring that the skills acquired can be translated into other sectors of the economy.”

All partners demonstrated several examples of their approach to local content. Fugro highlighted its work with local firms in helping to build industry-specific capacity, while investing in Education from the primary to the tertiary levels. These investments were seen as particularly beneficial to the broad society, as they help to enhance the opportunities for growth in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Ground Structures Inc., in their presentations, focused significantly on the training offered to its employees through its partnerships with other firms. Much of that training was both industry specific and general, providing knowledge that could transform their contributions to the broader society.

Guyana Gold Fields highlighted their focus on growing local businesses, many of which were not directly associated with the mining industry. These examples of local content emphasized ways in which firms could build capacity and managerial skills to become vibrant within the economy. In one instance, that capacity building has allowed the firm to become a major exporter of local products. Worley Parsons also emphasised their collaborative work with local and regional partners in helping to develop capacity beyond the direct needs of the industry.

In closing, Professor Lucas charged participants with the task of becoming local content ambassadors. He suggested that all attendees inform their friends, neighbours and acquaintances about the importance of local content, what it means for the national agenda, how it could impact our lives, and the development of a vibrant economy.

Public Relations Division

August 20, 2018.

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