GE’s commitment to strengthening its local presence in Nigeria is spurred by the desire to demonstrate investments through jobs, education and knowledge transfer. Many investments already validate this. In 2015, GE invested $250-million over a five-year period in a manufacturing and assembly plant in Calabar, Southern Nigeria.
The plant aims to significantly increase the local content of GE’s operations by increasing local ownership of equipment, in-country project execution expertise and use of local legal, financial and engineering services. When the facility is completed in 2018, more than 3,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created.
As a result, GE is laying a foundation for knowledge and technology transfer to Nigerian suppliers, academic institutions and people living in the region. There are also various initiatives aimed at building up a skills pipeline in Calabar. One of these is GE’s awarding of 10 scholarship grants to the best students from the Ikot Ansa community.
Each of the 10 tertiary-level students recently received $476 and will continue to receive this grant annually until they graduate. After the students graduate, a new set of students from the University of Calabar, the Cross River University of Technology and the University of Port Harcourt will receive the grant.
Ahmed Zakari, GE Nigeria COO, said:
At GE, we know how important it is to build local capacity through learning and training. We encourage the Ikot Ansa students to continue to work hard and excel because this will give them a good chance of being employed, possibly by GE.
Skills development, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, is something that GE has been investing in for many years with projects that include the Lagos Garage training facility in Nigeria and the Africa Innovation Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. Zakari explains:
We’re making these investments and supporting the vital development of people, and resources in the region because Africa has a great deal of talent that we can tap into.
One of the students, Iso Divine Edet, who is studying petroleum engineering at the University of Port Harcourt, said:
We sincerely thank GE for the opportunity they have extended to us. We are deeply grateful as we hardly have companies around here that exhibit such kindness. The grants will help us a great deal because most of us are from humble backgrounds with very tight financial situations. This is the first time most of us are receiving a scholarship and this will go a long way in supporting our academics and encouraging us to work harder to maintain the scholarship.
In addition to the grants, GE is also working on a youth development programme which is related to the new plant in Calabar.