Esther Ajibola – Lagos
In line with its belief that the future of Nigeria should be in Nigerian hands, Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) has set a new record on Nigerian content in the oil and gas industry as it has trained another batch of internationally-certified female welders.
Speaking to journalists, one of the beneficiaries of the training and one of the first certified female international welding specialists in Nigeria, Chinonye Okonkwo, stated that when she started the training, many people were coming to watch her to validate their belief that she would fail.
But she ended up representing the “new wave” of home-grown engineering talent on the African continent as the company tapped into the knowledge and expertise of international partners to build a domestic talent base to serve the needs of this dynamic country.
According to her story, she joined Samsung Heavy Industries Nigeria in 2015, initially in the administration team.
She said that when she saw her colleagues joining the new welding training programme, she became curious about whether this could be a career choice for her.
“I spoke to my manager, and he told me that in Korea, it is quite normal for a woman to become a welder, so I thought that there is no reason why it can’t be the same in Nigeria,” Chinonye explained.
It wasn’t so easy to change everyone’s perceptions, however. When she began the training programme she was faced with lots of people coming to watch her progress – not to see her succeed, but to validate their belief that she would fail.
Chinonye did nothing of the sort. She’s now one of Samsung Heavy Industries Nigeria’s most-talented welders, and has been promoted to an assistant training role where she trains new welders, amplifying her impact on the local talent base. Chinonye recently returned from a trip to the Geoje Shipyard in Korea to improve her skills even further, and is looking forward to a future for the SHI-MCI yard in Lagos, Nigeria, following the successful completion of the Egina FPSO (Floating production storage and offloading): partially fabricated in Lagos, it’s the world’s largest platform of its type.
She advised the next generation of engineering talent in Nigeria, saying: “If you are willing to try something different, you can find beauty in creating something special for yourself: a career where you play your role in the future of our country at the same time as building a career for you and your family.”
She is now the proud holder of an international welding specialist licence, which she obtained via her work at the yard.
This success story has been made possible through Samsung Heavy Industries’ belief in the potential of Nigerian companies and workers to deliver to their tough, exacting standards.
A number of records were broken during construction. This is the first ever project to meet Nigeria’s demanding new standards for “local content,” which in simple terms means Nigerian-owned business delivering work in Nigeria.
Over 9.7 million hours of time have been spent by the Nigerian workforce, with over 6,000 Nigerians in employment on the project at its peak via Samsung and its partners and subcontractors.
This project is not the end of Samsung’s ambitions for Nigeria. Their vision is a future of extraordinary growth and opportunity, building on their now-proven model for heavy involvement of local companies and local workforce talent.
The combination of Korean efficiency and expertise, fused with Nigerian talent and passion, presents limitless possibilities for a future in repairing, maintaining and building high-value ships to serve needs in Africa and beyond.