Establishing a Ghana National Welding Capacity

Welding is involved, in one way or another, in about 50-60% of the economic activities of a nation. Huge infrastructural projects in areas such as the upstream and downstream energy industries – particularly the oil and gas sectors, and the automotive industry, the aerospace, the civil and structural construction industries are only feasible due to the application of welding. Developed nations such as Germany, USA, UK, Japan,and Finland, to mention but a few, have built life-long capacity in welding as it serves as a cornerstone technology for socio-economic growth. The impact of welding is evident in such nations that is why Ghanaheavily import goods and services from their end. However, Ghana can maximize her socio-economic fortunes, and become competitive and productive through establishing a national capacity in welding.

Establishing anational welding capacity starts with education, training, qualification/accreditation and certification of welding personnel, institutions and companies. Although some level of national capacity in welding exists, Ghana needs to tailor all aspects of welding education, training, qualification/accreditation and certification according to internationally agreed standards to demonstrate compliance to welding quality requirements. To do so, Ghana needs to join the International Institute of Welding (IIW) to holistically adopt global best practices in welding and joining,and benefit from the international recognition and business opportunities such affiliation brings.

Firstly, Ghana needs to educate and train instructors and inspectors according toISO 14731 and ISO 9712 standards respectively under the IIW-International Authorization Board (IAB) education, training, qualification and certification framework. Trained instructors will in turn train welders according to ISO 9606 standard. Also, companies that perform welding projects need to undergo qualification and certification according to ISO 3834 standard to be able to manufacture and provide turnkey welding engineering projects and services. Training of welding professionals as well as company certifications can be done via our traditional universities, technical universities, technical and vocational institutions, and welding centres established by private businesses when they are approved under the IIW-IAB framework. At the welding personnel level, Ghana can then issue international welding certificates 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(IWI), International Welder (IW), etc.
Secondly, becoming a member of IIW means that Ghana will have access to build her human, institutions and companies welding capacity across the following technical fields:
Human Factors (Terminology/Health,Safety, Environment/Education and Training/ Research, Strategy and Collaboration/ Quality Management).
Industrial Applications (Pressure Vessels, Boilers and Pipelines/ Automotive and Road/ Transport/ Shipbuilding/ Aircraft Engineering/ Micro-joining/ Civil Engineering/ Oil and Gas, Petrochemicals).
Joining Processes (Thermal Cutting and Surfacing/ Filler Materials/ Resistance and Solid-State Welding/ Power Beam Processes/ Arc Welding Processes/ Polymer Joining and Adhesives/ Brazing, Soldering and Diffusion/ Bonding Physics of Welding/ Micro-and Nano-joining).
Structural Integrity (Quality Control and Quality Assurance/ Behaviour of Materials Subjected to Welding/ Fracture Avoidance/ Fatigue of Components and Structures/ Design, Analysis and Fabrication).

According to UN directives,Ghana needs to strive in achieving UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030.By establishing a national capacity in welding, the nationwould attain the level of fulfilling SDG 8 (Promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work) and SDG 9 (Building resilient infrastructure, promoting sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation) across diverse industrial sectors, especially the oils and gas, mining, agriculture, construction, shipbuilding, etc.

By establishing a national capacity in welding, the image of welding shall be improved in Ghana. This action will encourage young people, especially females to take up welding as a career. This action will also attract a lot more youth in employment and business opportunities that exists and those that can be created.

In conclusion, Ghana has a population of about 30 million. However, with world population reaching 8.5 billion by 2030, the pressures on manufacturing, infrastructure and power generation, not to mention basic needs such as food, water, shelter and education, will become enormous common challenges.Welding – as an enabling technology that plays anessential role in almost every industrial sector – is critical to Ghana and the world’s ability to cope with these pressures and changes. Therefore, establishing a national welding capacity shall help Ghana to secure the future while taking advantage of global opportunities in manufacturing and production.

By Dr. Emmanuel Afrane Gyasi, DSc.(Tech),PhD

The writer is a mechanical / international welding design engineer, a TVET and pedagogy facilitator, a senior researcher and a social entrepreneur.

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