ABUJA, Nigeria -- Meeting local content requirements is a challenge in West Africa. Chukwuma Henry Okolo of Nigeria's Dorman Long Engineering told participants at the Offshore West Africa conference that Nigeria needs to work more diligently toward achieving this goal.
Okolo defined local content as work that creates employment, develops technology and moves forward national security. "It's not about giving jobs to companies," Okolo said. "It's about building the Nigerian economy."
Okolo said oil revenues should be used domestically to improve life for Nigerians, noting that $28 billion is to be invested over the next 10 years in the country's offshore.
Investment in people is critical, Okolo said, emphasizing the value of investing in developing skills and knowledge within Nigeria.
Okolo pointed to successes achieved by the government's Nigerian Content Division (NCD). "No doubt about it," Okolo said, "NCD has made excellent progress in driving Nigerian policies."
The catch is that policies alone are not enough. "You cannot legislate knowledge," Okolo said. Success will require financial investment, Okolo said, explaining that Nigeria should compel companies working there to train Nigerians and to transfer technology to Nigeria.
Okolo is optimistic about the success of local content initiatives. He cited India as a success story to be emulated by Nigeria. "India is an inspiration," he said. "We can make progress regardless of our circumstances.
Okolo said Nigerians should bid for work, not based on present capabilities, but on the basis of capabilities that could be put in place when the work needs to be done. "Bidding should be based on current capacity plus developing capacity over the time frame of the contract," he said.
Okolo encouraged Nigerians to pursue this ambitious bidding approach. "This is the time for real hard work," he said.