Discovery of oil especially in African countries has often turned out to be both a curse and a blessing depending on how the resource is managed.
When it was announced that Kenya has discovered oil in Turkana County in 2011, the news was greeted with excitement.
However, pundits were quick to caution that the management of the ‘black gold’ was key to determining whether the resource would benefit the common person or would end up profiting the political class as it has happened in some other countries across the world.
Seven years down the line, observers can point out that the resource has helped improve lives of the local residents, despite the initial concerns over environmental degradation and oil revenue sharing, with the latter being an ongoing concern.
Through its Cooperate Social Responsibility (CSR), the investment oil exploration and Production Company, Tullow oil, focuses on education, health, water and economic empowerment aimed at improvement of livelihoods.
In terms of economy, the company paid Sh.6.1 billion to the National Government in taxes and expenditure to local suppliers in 2013. In 2017 the company paid Sh.1.9 billion towards the same objectives.
Elsewhere, the education sector is perhaps the greatest beneficiary of the Corporate Social Responsibility undertaken by the company.
Scores of local students have received bursaries and scholarships awards. In turn, the beneficiaries, including the County Agriculture Chief Officer, Christopher Akure, have come back to contribute to the development of the County.
In addition to students who have received scholarships to study oil and gas related courses in England, 60 students are currently sponsored to undertake technical courses at Lodwar Youth Polytechnic.
The company in partnership with Africa Oil Company spent Sh. 120 million to equip electrical and plumbing workshops at the technical institution.
Area governor, Josphat Nanok commended the company for its support and pledged that the County Government will continue to allocate at about Sh.300 million annually for skills development.
The funds are not adequate but we intend to split bursary fund so that we allocate funds for scholarship separately from those of a Trust Fund where beneficiaries will get soft loans to pursue their education, said Nanok.
The Tullow scholarship programme is run by the catholic diocese of Lodwar. Since its inception in 2012, a total of 900 pupils have been sponsored in primary, secondary schools and universities.
In 2012 KCPE class, 25 pupils were sponsored, five from each of the Sub-counties. In that year, we did not take students from Turkana West Sub-county, David Namoe, the program manager said.
One of the beneficiaries, Zipporah Samal Lokwayen, dream of joining a secondary school and better her life could not have come to reality were it not for this scholarship program.
Currently she works at the Equity Bank after she was successfully selected under the Bank’s ‘Wings-to-Fly’ program.
Source: Kenya News Agency