A good corporate citizen seeks to facilitate the establishment of effective and efficient bonds between that company and its hosts to deliver long-term benefits for all stakeholders.
This can be said of the West African Gas Pipeline Company Limited (WAPCo) as its establishment in 2006 led to significant social investment programmes aimed at contributing to the development of the host communities in member countries.
By 2009, WAPCo had inaugurated over 70 projects which were selected after intensive research and extensive discussions between the company and beneficiary communities in Nigeria, Benin, Togo, and Ghana.
The projects in the four countries focused on health, education, water and sanitation, and training (capacity building).
Since its inception, WAPCo has spent approximately $7m on its social development programmes. Out of this total, $5m was spent on community development programmes while $2.4m was spent on the Livelihood Support Programme.
In Ghana, under its Community Development and the Livelihood programmes, the company has spent more than GH¢2,500,000 on social investment projects in the communities through which the pipeline passes.
Community Development Programme
One of the earlier projects commissioned in Ghana in 2009 was at Kpone, near Tema. To ensure that education did not suffer due to the lack of accommodation for skilled tutors transferred to the area, WAPCo constructed and handed over to that community residential accommodation to serve as transit quarters for newly posted teachers to the Kpone community.
Some other investments include the construction of a maternity ward at the Tema Manhean Health Centre, which has been ve1y beneficial to the women within the community. Prior to the construction of the ward, expectant mothers sometimes had to share facilities with males on admission. Since the construction of the ward, antenatal attendance at the health centre has increased and referrals to the Tema General Hospital have reduced significantly.
The company also organises regular health checks and screening for host communities, with a recent exercise being an eye-screening exercise held at Shama and surrounding communities.
Additionally, the company, in collaboration with medical professionals and local health authorities, organises periodic medical outreaches to bring specific health care and awareness to the doorstep of host communities.
Water and sanitation
In the area of water and sanitation, WAPCo has made significant contributions. The company has constructed two storm drain systems for the Aboadze and Abuesi communities in the Western Region. The company has also provided modern toilet facilities at Tema Manhean, Dwomo, and Inchaban. These projects have improved, sanitation conditions in the communities. Water tanks were also provided for the lower Inchaban community in Western Region.
Support for social activities
WAPCo provided a social Center the Aboadze community, for communal meetings, and other social activities. The community rent the centre out for private social programmes (such as weddings, funerals, and parties) and it also serves as a venue for meetings thereby facilitating and improving social cohesion among the people of the community.
WAPCo, a decade down the line is still keen on investing in host communities in sustainable ways that, ensure that it brightens the future of brilliant needy young people in its host communities.
WAPCo's commitment to the development of host communities is reflected in the introduction of the Livelihood Support Programme in 2012. The programme has two components; a Scholarship Scheme and the Community Youth Enterprise Scheme (CYES).
Under the CYES, the youth have the opportunity to learn a trade of their choice in recognized vocational and technical institutions in their respective countries.
The programme provides young persons in the company's host communities who have completed basic education but cannot pursue further studies due to financial constraints, the opportunity to pursue further education or training.
In Ghana, a total of 303 young people have gone through WAPCo's Livelihood Programme since its inception in 2012.
Out of this number, 108 are beneficiaries of the CYES, 73 of whom have successfully graduated from various training institutions, out of which 55 are from the Aboadze area in the Western Region, while the remaining 18 are from Tema Manhean and Kpone in the Greater Accra Region.
Wealth and job creation
The beneficiaries spent an average of three years in training and upon successful completion of their training, received startup toolkits to enable them to set up their own businesses.
Beneficiaries of the CYES have been equipped with skills in welding and fabrication, fashion and design, catering and hotel management, auto mechanical and electrical engineering. Other areas include building and construction technology, woodwork, joinery, and carpentry.
Aside from those who are supported with start-ups, some beneficiaries enroll in universities after successful completion of their vocational or technical training. However, the majority of them prefer to practice their vocation.
Running the business
To ensure the sustainability of the operations of the beneficiaries' young businesses, WAPCo plans to introduce them to basic business management skills. This is being done in collaboration with relevant institutions.
One of the beneficiaries, Ms. Dorothy Nyame, a 22-year-old senior high school graduate from Shama, said upon completing SHS, she went into mobile money and airtime vending at Shama. She said due to the little knowledge in the area and the lack of huge capital, the returns were very little and she sometimes made losses.
Dorothy said all hope was lost until she heard of WAPCo's CYES. She applied and was selected. "I was enrolled in beauty and hairdressing and today I can not only boast of having a vocation but I am also the proud owner of a set of tools, including hair dryers, hand dryers, hair washing sink, hair rollers, towels, and many other items to enable me to set up my own business. Even before setting up my own business, I was earning money from applying the skills acquired and I now support my family," she said.
Aside from Dorothy, 72 others, after going through a WAPCo-sponsored technical and vocational training in various institutions in the country, have been equipped with the appropriate start-up tools to enable them to establish their own businesses.
The community members, opinion leaders, and traditional rulers are of the view that tl1e intervention under the CYES addressed the situation where young people are trained and struggle to set up.
They were happy with the fact that after going through CYES, the beneficiaries were given tools for their jobs.
The scholarship scheme, Free SHS
The scholarship scheme, which previously supported brilliant needy students to obtain secondary education, became redundant following the introduction of the government's Free Senior High School policy.
Still committed to the development of education in the host communities, WAPCo reviewed and re-packaged the scheme and now supports brilliant needy students within its host communities to pursue an education at the tertiary level.
Opinion leaders and traditional rulers are equally pleased that under the scholarship scheme, the communities can boast of students studying Medicine, Engineering and other courses that place them in better positions to get employed by the oil and gas companies operating in the Western Region of Ghana.