China has started a welder training course to help South Sudanese master knowledge and techniques relevant to the petroleum industry in which the newly-born nation has a large potential.
A total of 30 trainees selected from about 800 applicants are under the vocational training, the first of its kind in South Sudan, and are expected to be backbone workers in the petroleum industry in the future.
The project is conducted by the China Engineering and Construction Corporation (CPECC), an affiliate of the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), in conjunction with South Sudan’s Ministry of Energy and Mining.
The training, free for all the students, started on July 4 and will last for more than a month. The trainees will go through theoretical knowledge lecture at Juba University for one or two weeks and the practical operation at working sites in Unity State for about three weeks, said a CPECC training coordinator surnamed Fan.
He said the trainees, mostly in their twenties, take the course seriously and are very active to communicate with teachers.
Some students from remote states who could not afford the accommodation fee in downtown Juba chose to rent a room in the suburb and spend more than three hours going to the class every day, Fan said, “nearly no one is late.”
“We hope the trainees can be as skillful as Chinese in managing their own oil resources,” he said.
While 75 percent of Sudan’s oil wells lie in the south before the split of the Africa’s largest country, all the pipelines run to the north, where the refineries are located. Few South Sudanese have acquired the knowledge in the oil industry.
Undersecretary in the Ministry of Mining and Energy, David Loro Gubek, said the lack of skills is a serious development bottleneck South Sudan must overcome. He encouraged those who did not get the chance now not to give up because there are more opportunities in the near future, “this is just the start.”
Li Zhiguo, Charge d’affaires of the Chinese Embassy in South Sudan, said China is ready to cooperate with South Sudan in various fields including energy, infrastructure and agriculture.
In the cooperation with South Sudan, the attention to human resources development will be a salient feature as it is in Sino- Sudan cooperation, Li said.
Since China and Sudan began cooperation in the energy sector in 1995, Beijing has helped Khartoum build a complete oil industry and trained tens of thousands of Sudanese oil workers as well as senior professional managers, bringing an economic boom to the African country.
“Compared with other countries, China’s advantage in energy cooperation is its investment based on equality and mutual benefit, ” he said, “we’d like to carry forward the advantage in future cooperation with South Sudan.”
Concerning the wide gap between the north and south on how to share the oil revenues, Li said China would not offer any proposal or suggestion “because the issue is an internal affair of the two brothers of Sudan.”
“Any intervention in this key sector from the outside would only complicate the situation and would not help resolve the issue, ” he said, “we will respect the decision by the two sides and adjust our plans of cooperation accordingly.”