By Yemisi Izuora
Economic growth is the most powerful instrument for reducing poverty and improving the quality of life in developing countries. Both cross-country research and country case studies provide overwhelming evidence that rapid and sustained growth is critical to making faster progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.
Achieving this growth is about investing in the people.
Nigeria is one country where human capital development is largely lacking.
Government expenditure in education, health and other social projects are calculated to be significantly low.
There have been various third party interventions especially coming from multinationals who have deployed commendable resources to build strong human capital base in the country.
Oil giant, Shell sees this aspect of development as urgent challenge and has put the full backing of the institution behind a new Human Capital Project.
Shell is committing to help Nigeria prioritize human capital in a sustained way, given the deepening recognition that jobs and skilled workers are key to national progress in countries at all income levels.
There are three main objectives for this intervention which among them is to build demand for more and better investments in people, to Nigeria strengthen her human capital strategies and investments for rapid improvements in outcomes equally improve how to measure human capital.
There is a moral case to be made, of course, for investing in the health and education of all people. But there is an economic one as well to be ready to compete and thrive in a rapidly changing environment. “Human capital” the potential of individuals is going to be the most important long-term investment any country can make for its people’s future prosperity and quality of life.
Specifically, Shell invests in community projects so that local people can benefit from social and economic development. This investment is sometimes voluntary and sometimes required by governments, or part of a contractual agreement.
The intent of its social investment programmes is to benefit society and the environment where it operates and also to create a more positive local business environment for Shell.
As well as responding to local social investment priorities, Shell have three global social investment themes: access to energy; science, technology, engineering and mathematics education (STEM); and community skills and enterprise development.
Investing In People
In 2019, Shell spent almost $173 million on social investment, of which 33 per cent was required by government regulations or contractual agreements.
The oil major also spent $116 million on voluntary social investment, of which around $60 million was in line with its global themes while the remaining $56 million was spent on local programmes for community development, disaster relief, road safety, health and biodiversity.
Around $84 million of the company’s total social investment spend in 2019 was in countries that are part of the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index 2018. These countries have a gross domestic product of less than $15,000 a year per person.
Sustaining Human Capital Project In Nigeria
Nigeria is a thriving and vibrant country, offering opportunities for people to
improve their livelihoods. The scale of the opportunity is mirrored by the scale of the challenges to provide affordable energy, education, healthcare and conditions for local businesses to grow.
In 2019, Shell’s Nigerian businesses, SPDC, SNEPCo and SNG, made direct social investments of $40 million in Nigeria, making the country the largest concentration of social investment spending in the Shell Group.
These investments were geared towards creating access to affordable healthcare, education, Enterprise support access to energy, assistance and
Shell Companies in Nigeria have invested in healthcare and education initiatives in Nigeria for decades and they continue to support a range of programmes.
The companies undertake two types of social investment activities: Direct social investment across Nigeria, which focuses on community and enterprise development, education, community health, access-to-energy, road safety and since 2018, biodiversity and Community-driven development programmes and initiatives in the Niger Delta, which focus on various themes as determined by benefitting communities and delivered through a Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU).
Specifically, Oriental News Nigeria authoritatively reports that there are thirty nine active GMoUs in Abia, Bayelsa, Delta, Imo and Rivers States.
In 2019, three new GMoUs were deployed and 10 GMOUs renewed which provide a secure five-year funding for communities to implement development projects of their choice.
The GMoU projects cover community health, education, enterprise development and social infrastructure, such as improved water and power supply, and sanitation.
Since 2006, a total of $252 million has been disbursed to communities through these GMoUs.
Since 2010, more than 27,000 babies have been delivered safely at Obio Cottage Hospital in Port Harcourt.
The Community Health Insurance Scheme was launched in 2010 at the Obio Cottage Hospital, a secondary health care centre in Port Harcourt.
Shell LiveWIRE Initiative
In 2018, Nigerian Yolo Bakumor Smith, CEO of De-Rabacon Plastics, won the first-ever Shell LiveWIRE Top Ten Innovators Awards for his business.
De-Rabacon is a Nigeria-based plastic recycling and waste management solution company that recycles end-consumer plastics to viable commercial products such as pavement blocks, buckets, cans, and carpets.
“There is often a paper-thin line between success and failure in business, especially for a start-up. The training, support systems and valuable networks I have gained over the last five years courtesy of Shell LiveWIRE, have gone a long way to ensure that my business start-up, De-Rabacon Plastics is thriving,” he said.
“Shell’s approach to supporting local enterprises to grow and excel is enabling us to scale up our business and focus on designing eco-friendly, energy-efficient and affordable products. Today, my organisation employs 16 people and has recycled over 800,000 tonnes of plastic waste. We plan to achieve two million tonnes by the end of 2020.”
This aspect of intervention is calculated as complimentary to other efforts to support business development.
Shell’s Health Is Wealth Policy
Affordable quality healthcare is a critical enabler to any community because it improves health indicators and outcomes and strengthens families, educational attainment and business opportunities.
Shell in this regard has supported community health programmes in Nigeria since the 1980s with equipment and pharmaceutical donations, emergency care and screening services, hospital maintenance and focused interventions on HIV/AIDS, malaria, cancer and vision care.
Today, Shell seeks to increase access to health services, introduce health insurance schemes and strengthen health systems.
Shell continues to work with key stakeholders to achieve universal health coverage by increasing access to health and the uptake of services in the communities.
The SPDC JV and SNEPCo support 20 healthcare centres and signature intervention projects throughout the country.
They include: Health-In-Motion community care programme, Health-in-Motion (HIM) is a mobile health outreach programme that takes free medical services to where people live and work.
Funded by the SPDC JV and SNEPCo, it reaches an average of 50 communities annually.
In 2019, HIM services benefitted 27,490 individuals in Imo, Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers and Ogun States.
Since its launch in 2010, more than 667,000 people have benefitted from the programme.
Shell Community Health Insurance Scheme
The Community Health Insurance Scheme (CHIS) is a partnership between SPDC, Rivers State Government and local communities.
The programme aims to provide affordable, quality healthcare to the
people of Rivers State.
The CHIS was launched in 2010 at Obio Cottage Hospital, a secondary health care centre, just a short walk from the SPDC JV offices in Port Harcourt.
CHIS costs individuals $30 per year and covers about 95 per cent of people’s health care needs.
Since 2010, more than 67,000 people have been enrolled and in 2019, nearly 8,500 new clients registered.
The hospital has also seen an increase in the uptake of services. For example, the average number of patients using the facility increased from about 600 at inception to about 7,700 per month in 2019, making Obio one of the most utilised health facilities in the region.
This successful pilot has now been expanded to three other locations, highlighting the possibility for extended healthcare coverage in Nigeria.
The Oloibiri Health Programme (OHP)
The Oloibiri Health Programme is a Shell-sponsored local government initiative in the Ogbia area of Bayelsa State.
It is designed to improve health outcomes in an innovative and holistic way and the initiative included a full refurbishment of the Kolo General Hospital, which was inaugurated in July 2019.
More broadly, the initiative focuses on improving and maintaining health, not just treating illness. It strengthens local healthcare systems by upgrading and integrating facilities, training and supporting local healthcare and community workers and ensuring a reliable supply of medicines.
The programme has seen a five-fold increase in service utilisation to 4,210 patients in 2019 from an average 833 patients in 2017. It has also provided training for over 130 health workers at community, local and state government levels.
In addition to this, it has trained 117 volunteers as facility-based extension workers in house-to-house healthcare.
To anchor the sustainability of the OHP, the initiative aims to establish the Oloibiri Health Foundation that will institute the Ogbia Health Insurance Scheme akin to the scheme in place at the Obio Cottage Hospital.
The Oloibiri Health Programme included a refurbishment of the Kolo General Hospital, which was inaugurated in 2019.
Investing In Education
Educating Nigeria’s young population is critical to the success of the country and interestingly Shell Companies in Nigeria have a long history of supporting education through scholarships and other initiatives. Since the 1950s, the Shell scholarship schemes have supported several thousands of students many of whom are among Nigeria’s business, political and social leaders.
In 2019, the SPDC JV and SNEPCo invested $7.8 million in scholarships and since 2011, the schemes have awarded more than 9,400 secondary school grants and over 6,000 university grants to students.
Cradle-To- Career Scholarships
The SPDC JV and SNEPCo invests hugely in the Cradle-to-Career scholarship programme, which pays for children from rural communities to attend some of the country’s top secondary schools.
The SPDC JV has awarded a cumulative 600 Cradle-to-Career (c2c) scholarships in the Niger Delta. In 2014, SNEPCo began offering these scholarships to applicants across the country, and so far, 471 students have benefitted. Since 2010, more than 1,000 students have received scholarships.
The scholarships cover the full cost of tuition, travel, accommodation, uniforms, books and laptops. Students completing the c2c secondary school scheme also receive support from Shell through the University Scholarship scheme. This support is dependent on them securing admission to a Nigerian University.
Strong Tertiary Education Project
Lack of world-class research institutions and limited access to technology are key challenges in enabling Nigerians to play an even greater role in the oil and gas sector. Shell invests in advancing education through university scholarships, student exchange programmes and focused research.
Since 2011, the SPDC JV and SNEPCo have awarded more than 6,000 university scholarships.
As part of the drive to motivate students and reward the high performers in the University Scholarship Scheme, the highest-achieving students are then also given the opportunity to participate in the SPDC JV Students Industrial Work Experience (SIWE) programme.
The SPDC JV also established the Shell Niger Delta Post Graduate scholarship programme which has benefitted 92 students from the region over the last decade. The programme offers one-year scholarships to three UK universities for studies related to the oil and gas industry.
To promote the emergence of industry-ready graduates at university level, Shell also invests in specific initiatives at Nigerian universities.
The SPDC JV, in collaboration with the University of Benin, funds a Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Geosciences and Petroleum Engineering and has
more recently (in 2017), collaborated with the Rivers State University to set up a CoE, which specialises in Marine and Offshore Engineering.
The CoEs offer specialised post-graduate degrees in Geosciences, Petroleum Engineering and Marine and Offshore Engineering respectively.
Each programme lasts for 18 months and culminates in a six-month internship with an oil and gas company, some within Shell.
By the end of 2019, over 75 students had graduated from the programmes and over 81 per cent of these graduates are currently employed.
Shell Companies in Nigeria have provided scholarship and education support to thousands of Nigerian children over many years. Here is a class in Otuogidi College of Health Technology.
Shell works to improve the chances for Nigerians to achieve their ambitions. In addition to providing access to loans to small and medium businesses which could become Shell suppliers and contractors, there is also the LiveWIRE youth enterprise development programme.
LiveWIRE was launched in Nigeria in 2003 and provides training and finance to young people between the ages of 18-35 to start or expand their own businesses.
In 2019, 140 people benefitted from the LiveWIRE programme, receiving training in enterprise development and management, as well as business start-up grants. More than 7,000 Nigerian youths have so far been trained under the programme and almost 4,000 young entrepreneurs were provided with business grants.
Two Nigerian enterprises were shortlisted in 2019 for the Shell Global Top Ten Innovators Awards a global competition which highlights and rewards businesses that demonstrate excellence in innovation as well as giving entrepreneurs a chance to shine on a global platform.
The enterprises were FarmToJuice and Foods Nigeria Ltd (“FarmToJuice”) and Basiled Energy Ventures. FarmToJuice produces juices, processing any waste into livestock feed and using a biogas digester to provide energy. Basiled provides solar lamps, solar installation maintenance and repair and solar battery recycling services.
Shell LiveWIRE In Ogoniland
In 2014, Shell extended LiveWIRE to Ogoniland despite the SPDC JV no longer producing oil and gas in the area.
Shell’s aim was to help raise living standards and reduce crude oil theft in the area through the promotion of sustainable alternative livelihoods. This was in line with one of the recommendations of the 2011 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report for the restoration of the Ogoni environment.
In 2018, 100 Ogoni youths from communities near the Trans Niger Pipeline participated in training with 80 top performing trainees receiving business start-up funding amounting to more than $90,000.
In 2019, the Ogoniland programme gave way to a livelihood programme led and executed by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), an agency established by the federal government and
to which the SPDC JV contributes funds. The programme will train 1,200 Ogoni women in various skills.
Every year Shell LiveWIRE supports thousands of individuals to access the knowledge, skills, networks and resources to turn their business ideas into successful enterprises which provide a sustainable income, create jobs and drive innovation.
The purpose of LiveWIRE is to improve opportunities for young people to realise their potential through the creation and development of their own businesses.
Such businesses will contribute towards a more buoyant economy and communities with more fulfilled young people.
Assistance And Safety
Shell Companies in Nigeria understand their responsibility when it comes to providing support for humanitarian and safety programmes, such as those providing relief to displaced persons or training for emergency workers.
For many years, Shell has sustained a culture of care by supporting humanitarian programmes in Nigeria to save lives, especially during crisis and disaster. In 2017, a contribution of more than $3 million to the Mercy Corps and Family Health International programme benefitted over 70,000 displaced persons in north
Then in 2018, SPDC provided relief materials worth $1 million to communities hit by floods in the Niger Delta and two other severely impacted states in the country.
Road Safety And Firefighting
In 2019, SNG continued to demonstrate its commitment to road safety in Nigeria by extending existing collaboration with the Federal Road Safety Corps in Ogun State to Rivers State. The campaign has held 26 road safety awareness events and reached more than 5,000 people since its launch in 2007.
The SNG also held a one-day hydrocarbon training for firefighters from Abia and Ogun States to further strengthen their capability.
Humanitarian Relief North East
Since 2018, SPDC and SNEPCo have committed $6 million to the government-driven strategic intervention projects for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) in Yobe and Borno States. The projects focus on immediate relief and critical support development related to health, water and sanitation, education and shelter.
By the end of 2019, the SPDC JV and SNEPCo completed the distribution of food, essential hygiene kits and other relief items to over 5,500 vulnerable households in IDP camps and impacted communities.
The SPDC also commenced project work on school reconstruction, and teacher training, upgrading of a Primary Health Care Centre and water and toilet facilities in Yobe State.
Accelerating Access To Energy
Enterprise development, opportunities for education and access to affordable healthcare hinge upon being able to have reliable and cost-effective energy.
Shell aims to provide a reliable electricity supply to 100 million people, primarily in Africa and Asia by 2030. Nigeria features in that vision.
Despite its oil and gas resources, Nigeria has one of the highest levels of energy poverty in the world.
In addition to investing in Nigeria’s gas development and distribution network, Shell has established All On to boost off-grid supply to homes and small businesses in the Niger Delta.
All On, an impact investing company, became operational in 2017 and is an independent Nigerian company that works with partners to increase access to commercial energy products and services. In December 2019, Shell made a significant additional long-term financing commitment to All On.