Drum Cussac is helping Tanzania’s budding entrepreneurs to cater to the requirements of the international oil and gas companies operating in the country, as part of its own Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative and a Tanzanian government vocational scheme.
In the coastal town of Mtwara, in southern Tanzania, Drum Cussac liaises with students at one of the country’s many Vocational Education and Training Authority (VETA) centres, learning how to refurbish and replace the security barriers on the offshore platform supply vessels, which serve the offshore oil rigs operated by BG Group.
Drum Cussac is responsible for maintaining the protection measures on the supply vessels for BG Group and to that end the students’ work is invaluable.
"This is a business opportunity for local, semi-skilled, workers," stressed Drum Cussac’s Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Littlejohns, "These VETA students benefit directly from the presence of the oil and gas companies in Tanzania, and Drum Cussac gets a timely, professional service in the local area. This will have lasting, tangible and quantifiable benefits in the years to come. The local community has ownership of the whole project."
Drum Cussac’s project manager on the ground in Mtwara, Chris Smith, explained how the students assess the requirements for each vessel and then make the panels and replacement panels for the BG Group vessels, under the tutelage of their Tanzanian teachers and a volunteer expatriate welding advisor.
Dickson Alloh, one of the VETA trainees, says: "I enrolled on the course because I wanted to learn about welding and metal fabrication, and I thought it would give me good employment prospects. Doing practical work for BG Group has been very interesting. They provide all the material and tools. I am looking forward to setting up my own business eventually, but equally I may decide to get more experience and teach others."
Fellow student Petro Matase said he had opted for learning welding over a business marketing course. "When BG Group moved into the area I decided to enrol on this course. It is great to be learning a professional skill and I am proud that I will be able to provide for my family. I look forward to being able to serve the oil and gas conglomerates offshore and onshore for many years to come."
Briton Paul Burbidge has been the expert expatriate guiding and mentoring the students in their newly-found skills for the past two years.
"When we set up the project the facilities were quite poor," Paul explains. "But my Tanzanian counterparts, Lupakisyo Mapamba and Michael Wanga, were keen to work with me to modernise the workshop and it is now of a very high standard. Thanks to work like Drum Cussac and BG Group’s contract, and project management from Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), as well as getting solid work experience we have introduced City and Guilds standards for the trainees so they can also achieve an internationally-recognised qualification".
Voluntary Service Overseas, or VSO, is an international development charity which helps fight poverty using expert volunteers like Paul.
"It is not all smooth sailing," he laughs. "New modern technology can be overwhelming, especially for some students who don’t even have electricity at home. But we build up their skill base slowly and surely and they seem very happy to be working with us, however hard on them we are when it comes to quality control."
Tanzania’s Vocational Education and Training Authority (VETA) was established in 1994. It coordinates, finances and promotes vocational education at 28 centres across the country.
The VSO project manager in Mtwara, Mawazo Mataje, said he felt the project was an excellent collaboration, which was creating a good legacy.
Drum Cussac has been working continuously with BG during the past three years, providing maritime security expertise in support of offshore exploration operations.
Drum Cussac provide a highly-trained contingent of maritime security consultants aboard BG chartered maritime assets; their role being protection of vessels and personnel working in support of offshore operations, whilst working alongside local Tanzanian People’s Defence Force personnel, also embarked aboard BG chartered assets offshore.