The Kofi Annan Institute for Conflict Transformation (KAICT) in collaboration with the GIZ Regional Resource Governance Project has conducted a Fifth Speaker Event in a series of regular events on Natural Resource Management which are intended to improve public awareness of the impacts of resource governance on peace and development. The program was held on Wednesday, July 2, in the Auditorium of the University of Liberia, under the theme, “Local Employment in the Extractive Industry Concessions: What’s in it for Liberia”. According to Mr. Zarway, Sector Expert from the GIZ Regional Resource Governance Project, the perceptions of the people that concession agreements signed are intended to create job for all Liberians raises a serious issue and he called on the public to do away with such idea.
Mr. Zarway explained, “The issue of jobs by companies in concession agreements is based on specialized skills, but not just degrees as many people have claimed, thereby creating the impression of getting job with only a degree.”
He further attributed the issue of impression of job creation for all to the national legislature that they usually create the atmosphere that after the signing of concession agreements; all Liberians will get a job.
The GIZ Sector Expert indicated that the issues of panel discussions of local experts and practitioners from civil society, government and the private sector would share issues, challenges and prospects for improving the natural resource management regime of Liberia and the Mano River Sub-region at large.
“If we are saying in reality that our resources are taken away weekly, monthly and yearly and the perceptions that concession agreements are there to provide job for everyone, if not, there is a fear that we may go back to where we have come from as Liberians,” Mr. Zarway asserted.
One of the panelists on the table, Mr. Urias Goll, from the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), explained that NOCAL has created lot of opportunities for the people of Liberia including scholarships both national and international as part of its program to prepare Liberians to work in concessions in the extractive industry sector.
He said despite the country is yet to discover oil in commercial quantity, the oil company continues to train people and create opportunities for Liberians.
Mr. Goll indicated that the issue of job creations by concession companies is in specialized areas including technical, professional and specialized skills by but not just degrees in general.
“We have more young people within the company and it has over 196 people and stay continues to train people, provide scholarships at the various universities and other vocational institutions across Liberia,” he added.
Also serving on the panelist, Samuel D. Karyah from the Liberian Innovation Foundation for Empowerment (LIFE), Inc., explained that research has shown that Liberians have skills but have not been given the opportunity in the sector.
Karyah argued that there are weaknesses in the enforcement of the law in the country, stressing, “That is a serious problem for the society.”
Mr. Karyah further stated, “We have come to identify what the companies want and we can work with them to ensure that they create the employment for the people of Liberia.”
The Fifth Speaker Event brought together staffs and students from the University of Liberia, officials of government and Liberian and international civil society organizations which agreed on the need for further discussions in which all relevant stakeholder committedly participate in order to create training and employment opportunities for Liberians in the extractive industries.