Overall these years, Ghana is not internationally recognized among the countries in the field of welding. This situation is a worrying fact because lacking such international recognition in welding affects Ghana technologically and economically.
Other adverse effects are quality of services in welding, productivity as well as the competitiveness of welding education and training institutions, welding companies, welding professionals and tradespersons.
Recent observations in the welding industry of Ghana points out these Questions and Responses:
Q1. Why multinational companies prefer to employ foreign welding professionals for jobs in the oil and gas industry of Ghana? R1. Because the multinational companies consider that foreign welders have the right qualification and certification in welding, compared to a Ghana welder whose qualification cannot be authenticated. Despite welder certificates issued by Ghanaian technical institutions and some companies can be used locally, such certificates have no international recognition.
Q2. Why most companies pay less salaries to welders in Ghana? R2. Because such companies consider that welders from Ghana have not gone through the required welding qualification and certification training and their skills set cannot be evaluated in comparison to international standards, although there are few exceptions.
Q3 Why welded products from Ghana are not marketable and have less global value? R3. Because such products do not meet international quality standards since the welder who manufactured the product is considered not qualified or the entire welding manufacturing setting is not certified.
Q4. Why are Ghanaian welding professionals and trades persons regarded as less competitive with low reputation compared to a welding professional from U.S.A, U.K, Finland or Germany? R4. Because the Ghanaian professional has less exposure to the world of welding and not acquainted with the latest technology in welding. Aspects related to health and safety in welding, and the environments are of importance and require urgent consideration.
The questions and responses can go on and on. Although responses to these set of questions are bitter and represent the truth in this era, the narrative of welding in Ghana can be rewritten and repositioned more pleasantly and appealingly henceforth, if the following submissions will be given utmost attention and regarded as relevant.
In 2014, 2015 and 2017, the author of this article participated in the Annual Assembly and International Conference of the International Institute of Welding (IIW) in Canada, Finland and China respectively (reference: https://cld.bz/users/user-36910767433/IIW-2015-Annual-Report/38-39).
The main objective of the author was to be an observer of the proceedings of the assembly while representing Ghana at the top level and to contribute in achieving a competitive image for Ghana within the international welding fraternity. Knowing how the IIW operates, the author made efforts to discuss with government officials, heads of state-owned technical and vocational institutions, tertiary institutions and some companies.
Efforts were also made to launch welder associations in Ghana (e.g. Ghanaian Institute of Welding, and Welding Society of Ghana) to the international welding front. However, the original idea to position Ghana in the international space of welding to enjoy numerous benefits and opportunities by joining the IIW has not yet materialized.
So the big question is, why should Ghana now join the International Institute of Welding (IIW)?
The time is now to join the IIW because new initiatives of Ghana government, privately owned-institutions and some state-owned institutions in recent times seem to promote the needs of improving technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and industrialization, where welding is key.
As an example, state-owned institutions such as the Petroleum Commission has come to realize that the need to train welders to international welding standards is imperative for sustainable job creation in the oil and gas industry.
Similarly, the Council for Technical Vocational Education and Training (COTVET) has also come to realize that the need to familiarize and train master craft welders, apprentices and other artisans to competency-based training is relevant for these trade persons to be creative, innovative and productive in the informal sector to boost self-employment and economic opportunities.
The following reasons and benefits indicate why Ghana needs to join the IIW:
- The IIW is the international body for welding and joining with membership today of welding associations from 55 countries worldwide. The IIW assists member countries in adopting global best practices in welding and joining.
- The IIW assists in linking industry, research and education to the advancement of welding and joining in each member country for a safer and sustainable world.
- The IIW assists member countries to develop their Education, Training, Qualification and Certification (ETQ&C) systems in welding and joining to meet the needs of industry globally.Ghana can issue international weldingcertificates and qualification diplomas in these categories: International Welding Engineer (IWE), International Welding Technologies (IWT), International Welding Specialist (IWS), International Welding Practitioner (IWP), International Welding Inspector (Comprehensive, Standard and Basic levels),International Welder (IW)for plate/pipe welders, etc.
- By writing welding and joining standards to be approved by the International Organization of Standardization (ISO), the IIW through its International Authorization Board (IAB) provides harmonized qualification and certification system for personnel and companies. Ghanaian welders and welding professionals can use their certificates to work not only in Ghana but anywhere in the world since IIW certificate is internationally recognized.
- The IIW is internationally recognized as the most reliable world source of technical knowledge in welding and allied technologies.
- The IIW assist member countries to increase national and international business potentials through demonstrated compliance with the welding quality requirements of a wide range of product standards and construction codes.
In addition to the benefits Ghana will derive as a member country of the IIW, individual welders, welding professionals, companies, research institutions, training centers and industrialization focused organizations (e.g.GRATIS Foundation) in Ghana will have the opportunity to be part of the IIW working units. The working units are specialized technical commissions that operate as ‘think tanks’ and engines for technical progress, focusing on current challenges in industry and research, and developing scholarly output to support such needs proactively.
To digress a bit, let us consider the position of Ghana and the international accolades the country enjoys in football. The question is if Ghana was not a member country of FIFA, can Ghana then have access to international football? Can we then have Ghanaian players playing in top-notch international teams? Can we then have open access to technology to develop Ghana’s football? Well, if joining FIFA is and has been good for Ghana, then joining IIW with international credibility is equally better for Ghana.
Private institutions such as Gyason Techno engineering Limited (www.gyasonghana.com), Danest Engineering Limited (www.danestwelgh.com), etc. have also made efforts to promote welding in Ghana to the international level in order to alleviate or avoid the bitter responses obtained from the questions enlisted above.
Together with these organizations, concerted efforts and collaboration from Ghana government are needed to give Ghana the best image in welding. Kindly note, Ghana is part of the global industrial fraternity and for that reason the country cannot isolate herself from the international welding community.
By serving as the international delegate for Ghana in the IIW fraternity, the author humblycalls on the Ghana government and her technical agencies to open up for round-table discussions as a way to take immediate actions to position Ghana on the International Map of Welding
The writer is a mechanical/ international welding engineer, a TVET and pedagogy facilitator, senior researcher and social entrepreneur