UN agency seeks more jobs in oil and gas sector in Africa

By: IMMACULATE KARAMBU

A UN agency wants African governments to create more direct and indirect jobs through the extractive industries to drive prosperity of the region.

According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) the oil, gas and mining industries currently account for just one per cent of the continent’s workforce.

The agency notes that this is not sufficient to promote economic growth and foster social inclusion.

The push for increased employment opportunities came up during an oil, gas and mining conference held in Khartoum, Sudan, organised by UNCTAD, which ended on Thursday.

It brought together experts and industry practitioners, as well as policy makers from around the world to explore potential for exploration and production of oil, gas and minerals in Africa.

“The benefits that the extractive industries could bring to developing countries include revenues for host countries through production sharing agreements, royalties and income taxes.

The development of the extractive industries could also generate wider economic benefits and promote inclusive growth and sustainable development,” said UNCTAD in a statement.

The UN estimates that in Africa, only five million jobs are created for more than 12 million young people entering the labour force annually in Africa.

Africa is home to eight per cent of the world’s oil and gas reserves.

The United States Geological Society also ranks the continent second in its share of world’s reserves of various metals including industrial diamond, rutile, ilmenite and zirconium, among others.

FEW DIRECT JOBS

Given their capital intensive nature, extractive industries do not create many direct jobs.

However, they offer opportunities for support industries such as catering, logistics and security, among others, which can absorb a large pool of workers.

The UNCTAD conference comes in the backdrop of weak international prices of oil and minerals that have hindered investment in production.

In Kenya, for instance, industry analysts say that activity in the upstream oil and gas sector has reduced by half as companies redirect their resources to fields where they are already producing, leading to massive job losses.

In September, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released a report indicating that developing countries that are dependent on oil and commodity exports would see a drop in their growth by as much as two per cent in the period to 2017 owing to low commodity prices.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION