Oil City: Where are the Jobs, pt. 2

"Oil City," attracting dreamers and schemers... Photo by Christiane Badgley

“Oil City,” Ghana’s new Wild West. There may not be many oil industry jobs here for the moment, but the fortune seekers, schemers and scammers have arrived and there’s snake oil for sale on every corner.

Here’s part of one email I recently received (I’ve removed names and numbers):

I was offered a vacancy by an engineer whom does recruiting for jubilee oil rig (tel +233-xxx-xxx-xxx  Mr. xxxxx) he told me to obtain visa etc we had to pay in 490 us dollars via western union and that he would get back to me he now is asking for a further 1699 us dollars for some documentation levy payable to Ghana Maritime labour law it is for the certification of employment and travel documents under GMA prior before delivery as a new employee joining the Ghana jubilee oil field.

Whether the author of the email was being scammed and thought I could help him or whether he was trying to scam me doesn’t really matter. The point is that employment scams are rife in the Western Region. People have set up phony recruitment agencies and bogus training programs. They ask for money up front, of course, and then disappear. People are spending hundreds, even thousands of dollars for non-existent jobs and courses.

There are some legitimate training programs in Takoradi. We interviewed the director of one such program and I’ll write about his school soon. The problem however is that it’s difficult to know who is legitimate and who is not. The government and the oil companies need to clearly identify all recognized and approved training courses. They don’t. There should be a direct relationship between recognized training centers and oil company human resources departments. There isn’t. Basically, people are on their own; it’s not like they can go down to the local jobs office and get advice.  In a country with extremely high levels of unemployment and a huge “419” internet scamming problem (sorry, Ghana, but it appears you have caught up with Nigeria and Cameroon on this front), potential victims are everywhere.

Both Tullow Oil and Kosmos Energy have posted scam alerts on their websites. Here’s the warning from Kosmos:

NOTE: POTENTIAL RECRUITMENT FRAUD

Kosmos Energy has learned that job applicants in the international oil and gas business, as well as other industry sectors, may be contacted by individuals or organizations that offer false employment opportunities. These communications are often via email and may request personal information or money. Kosmos only makes job offers after candidates have completed a formal interview process and does not ask applicants to pay fees during recruitment. Specifically, please note that any communications from or about the “Kosmos Group” are not associated with Kosmos Energy.

This is good, but I don’t know how useful these alerts are. There are a lot of people in Takoradi who don’t have internet access. And even when you get to the Tullow or Kosmos websites, it’s not easy to get information. The Tullow Ghana website has no jobs or employment section. The Kosmos website doesn’t supply any information for Ghana, period, and if you want to apply for a job you need to send a query to Dallas.  All the partners operating in Ghana need to set up local recruitment and/or community liaison offices, open to the public with someone on staff to provide information. With all the money they’re making, they can afford to do this — after all, it’s a small price to pay to keep the peace.

Interestingly I note on the Tullow website that “We are committed to providing Ghanaian suppliers with full and fair opportunities, providing short and long-term support to help local suppliers to achieve contract pre-qualification. To date 700 local contracts have been awarded by Tullow, including procuring 100% of IT equipment and services in Ghana.” I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to find out more about these 700 contracts when I interview Tullow officials.

Next, I’ll talk about Takoradi’s other booming business: sex work.

 

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