It is no surprise that Africa is the richest of all the lands. It is the wealthiest continent in terms of under and aboveground resources as reported by the Gulf Times1. It has eight per cent of the world’s natural gas reserves and can potentially be a source of hydroelectric power, solar energy and geothermal energy. It also holds 15 per cent of the world’s population.
With the large population in Africa, it is evident that the continent’s richest resource is its people. Education is key in allowing the African people to reach their potential, and each one of them should have access to education opportunities. Statistics South Africa found almost two out of every ten young people are unable to attend an educational institution due to difficulty in finding funds to support it2. There are many talented and bright young people amongst the African population. Many of them are eager and ready to shine their light to the world.
Meeting the needs of young Africans – Education support
Education support programmes have been initiated for these young Africans to prepare them to embrace challenges ahead. PETRONAS through its various ventures in the upstream sector and ENGEN in the downstream space have collaborated with local government and authorities to provide financial aid for primary, secondary and tertiary students in the form of support programmes, bursaries, education scholarships and facilities for students across Africa. Notable initiatives include PETRONAS Local Universities Scholarship (PLUS), PETRONAS School Library refurbishment in 2018 and the PETRONAS Mobile Library in Sudan.
Education is placed as a priority as it is the direction that the global economy is heading towards and it will equip the students for the workforce of the future. In line with this, PETRONAS and ENGEN have been strongly advocating for Mathematics and Science; helping more than 1,600 students and their families in South Africa in 2017 and through the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program. PETRONAS has also supported more than 500 students across all of Africa in pursuing their higher education ambitions through scholarships.
Tertiary-level PETRONAS scholars at Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (PETRONAS Technology University) in Malaysia can pursue their ambitions not only in the areas of oil and gas but also in fields such as Civil Engineering, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and Information Communication Technology. In an ongoing effort to create and develop Africa’s future leaders, this year more than 70 new groups of scholarships for university education has been approved.
Some of the early successes of PETRONAS scholars are seen in Paul Adong Bith Deng and Oliver Denis Pamba Zackaria. Paul currently leads his own oil and gas company while Oliver, on the other hand, heads an international oil and gas firm in South Sudan. Both have forged strong careers in the industry, having greatly benefitted from the education programmes that PETRONAS has offered.
Education is proven as an important catalyst of upward social mobility.
Getting the basics right – Access to clean water
With the population growing, Africa is also seeing a rising fundamental need for clean water sources as the population of sub-Saharan Africa is expected to rise to 2.2 billion in 2050 according to The Economist3. Things will need to change rapidly.
Water for South Sudan, a respected non-governmental organisation, says women and young girls in Africa spend 40 billion hours a year walking in search of clean water4. Thirteen-year-old Aysha, whose story was featured on the UNICEF U.S. site, spends eight hours a day collecting water for herself and her family5.
UNICEF has also reported the dire situation that only 68 per cent of households in Sudan, for instance have access to clean water.
As a hands-on contributor toward community well-being, just last year, PETRONAS has helped some 108,000 people through its efforts across the continent. In fact, just in September 2018, a clean water supply project has been initiated in Juba, South Sudan called ‘Water for Life’.
The joint effort saw PETRONAS, South Sudan’s Ministry of Petroleum and Nile Hope, a national non-governmental organisation bring access to safe and clean drinking water to more than 40,000 residents around Juba6.
Going beyond corporate initiative in Sudan, unsung heroes from among the Malaysian-Sudanese employees of PETRONAS created the Adopted Village initiative, crowd-funding the effort to commission a water well in May this year. The well supplies much needed water for an underprivileged community of more than 500 households from the Al Fatah District of Omdurman City in Sudan.
PETRONAS is looking at more projects in the coming months as part of its continuous effort to contribute toward the well-being of African communities with several new infrastructure projects in various African countries.
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