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Lafarge Africa: Developing manpower from host communities for cement production, construction works

In order to add more value and contribute to Nigeria’s technological growth and development, Lafarge Africa Plc, in collaboration with the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) and Nigerian Employer Consultative Association (NECA), has recorded remarkable success in its flagship cement production and engineering programme, with the graduation of young and promising Nigerians who have undergone training in the last three years.

The three-year training, which is centred on cement production and basic knowledge in various fields of engineering, was created by Lafarge Africa Plc in 2017 as part of its commitment to shared value, which is in tandem with its robust Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

Lafarge Africa’s CSR activities are designed to offer genuine interventions in various ways and fields of human endeavor, to its host communities in Ogun state (Ewekoro and Sagamu), Cross River state, (Mfamosing), and Gombe state (Ashaka).

In this edition, Lafarge Africa Plc selected young school leavers who have backgrounds in science and technology. Adepoju Adedolapo Abimbola, Afolabi Azeez Oladimeji, Ogunsanya Ayomide Olufemi, Olatunji Itunu Comfort, and Olawale Olalekan Kazeem made the list from its host communities in Ogun state.

Also, Duke Donald-Orok Bassey, Okon Manfred Bassey, Inyang Oliver Joseph, Nakanda Nakanda Asikpo, and Prince Stephen Okoi made the list from Cross River state, while Nagi Abraham Kayafa, Umar Mohammed Yahuza, Yahaya Umar Umar, Usman Umar Abubakar, and Salisu Haruna Ibrahim are from its host communities in Gombe state.

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These young Nigerians underwent a three-year intensive training in cement production and engineering under Lafarge Africa’s Cement Professional Technician Programme (CPTP).

Speaking at the graduation ceremony of the pioneer set of the Cement Professional Technician Programme (CPTP) held virtually, the Country Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Lafarge Africa Plc, Khaled El Dokani, said that the Cement Professional Technician Programme was initiated by Lafarge Africa to contribute to the growth and improvement of its host communities and states in such a way that sustainable development and impact would be created, especially among the young population.

El Dokani said, in the graduation ceremony which had in attendance, representatives of the Governments of Ogun, Gombe and Cross River states, representatives of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) and the National Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), as well as relatives of the young graduands, among others, that the intention of Lafarge Africa Plc for the training programme goes beyond absorption of the trainees after the programme, but also aims to create sustainable empowerment and leverage for the young school leavers to secure admissions in any higher institutions of learning anywhere in the world.

He said, ‘Lafarge Africa Plc is committed to its sustainability strategy of climate and energy, circular economy, environment, and community. Our focus on our communities is further demonstrated by our contribution to the improvement of the quality of lives through setting up local development programmes in key areas that have a direct impact on the socio-economic well-being of the people and their environment”.

Gbemiga Owolabi, the Organization and Human Resources Director remarked: “As a result of our strong commitment to people development, the Lafarge Africa Training Centre was established to initiate and conduct various technical and socio-economic training and programmes, with the prospect of achieving the developmental objectives of the company. The Lafarge Africa Training Centre has created various training schemes, of which the Cement Professional Technician Programme (CPTP) is one of them.”

He added that the programme aims to promote local talent. “CPTP is aimed at building and supporting the local talent from Lafarge Africa’s host communities nationwide, to bridge the skill gap in the cement industry.’

“This programme will create opportunities for employment for successful participants and expose them to cross-cultural, theoretical, practical, mentoring, and coaching experiences that will positively impact their lives and career.’

“With a careful selection of our candidates – from the South West Region in Ogun State, where we have Ewekoro and Sagamu Plants; Northern Region in Gombe where our Ashaka Plant is located, and from the South East Region in Cross River where we have the Mfamosing Plants, – these participants go through a 3-year programme to certify them as professionals in the production of cement.’ Owolabi said.

Earlier, Micheal Shokunbi, Head of Industrial Learning and Development of Lafarge Africa Plc, stated that the CPTP was created to achieve a single central programme to serve the technical manpower needs of all Lafarge Africa’s Plants in Nigeria. He disclosed that the graduands have been absorbed as technical staff of the cement company.

He added, “CPTP also serves as a pipeline through which gaps created through promotion, retirement or voluntary exits, will be filled and to produce multi-layer skilled technicians capable of taking up all entry positions in the plant, such as maintenance, production, quality assurance and many more.”

He emphasized that the programme is a leadership training initiative for the business. “The programme is vital to nurturing young talents in becoming leaders and managers of the company in the future. These participants were competitively selected from our host communities. Throughout the programme, they enjoyed the benefits of learning in a cross-cultural group, had exposures across the entire operations of Lafarge Africa Plc, and enjoyed the multiple benefits of theoretical, practical, and coaching which helped to model them after professionals within our operations.”

Making comments on the cement programme being certified by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), Timothy Olawale, Director General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), commended Lafarge Africa for extending the frontiers of Corporate Social Responsibility to the establishment of a cement training school where the young school leavers drawn from host communities of Ogun, Gombe and Cross River States can benefit in knowledge and employment placement.

The NECA DG, who was represented by Celine Oni, Director of Projects at NECA, was joined by Sir Joseph Ari of Industrial Training Fund (ITF), to call on companies operating in the country to emulate Lafarge Africa Plc in empowering the youths within their host communities and States, as this singular act would liberate many people from the shackles of ignorance and poverty currently inhibiting socio-economic growth and development in the country at large.

Ogun State Government, through Sola Arobieke, Special Adviser to Governor Dapo Abiodun on Industry, Trade, and Investment lauded Lafarge Africa Plc for the sustainability of its various life-improving interventions in its host communities, urging them to keep the flag of positive impact and multiple interventions flying at all times especially as the Ogun State Government seeks more partnership from the renowned building materials and construction solutions company.

Also, Hussaina Goje, Commissioner for Environment, who spoke on behalf of the Government of Gombe State, confirmed that Lafarge Africa through its Ashaka Plant has been involved in different programmes that have a positive impact not only on the host communities but also on the entire Gombe state, saying “Like Oliver Twist, we can only ask for more from this wonderful building solutions company.”

Godwin Amanke, Commissioner for Quality Education in Cross River state, described the graduands as potential Champions as they were being offered automatic jobs by Lafarge Africa Plc, adding that the government is glad to express their feelings about the programme, while also looking forward to achieving other benefits the programme has to offer.”

Speaking on behalf of graduands, Prince Stephen Okoi, who is the Overall Best Graduate, expressed joy and satisfaction over the training and absorption of the trainees by Lafarge Africa as technicians, working in various departments within the company.

Okoi, while thanking Lafarge Africa, State governments and host communities to have given them the opportunity of being part of Lafarge Africa’s Cement Professional Technical Programme which has opened their eyes to quality trainings in engineering, especially cement production, saying, “we don’t have better words to really describe this lofty gesture, than to thank the organisers.”

The highlights of the graduation ceremony featured the presentation of academic and professional awards to some excellent graduates as Nagi Abraham Kayafa was given the Gbemiga Owolabi Prize for the Best Graduate (North); Afolabi Azeez Oladimeji was awarded the Ibrahim Aminu Prize for the Best Graduate (West), while Prince Stephen Okoi got both the Olusegun Shoyoye Prize for Best Graduate (East) and the Khaled El Dokani Award of Excellence for Overall Best Graduate.

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