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"We aim to be a continental reference in the future"

Interview - September 3, 2013
Domingos Francisco, General Director of Angola’s National Petroleum Institute, meets with Globus Vision to discuss the role the institute plays in raising the quota and skills level of Angolans working in the oil industry
The oil sector has a strong influence on the development of Angola and Africa. What does Angola mean to this continent in comparison with other countries in Africa?

Nowadays, Angola is the power moving Africa, not only because of its natural resources but also because of its people. Angola’s people fight to get what they want and, most importantly, know what they want. They are going through the process of education and self-empowerment to become the owners of their wealth. This is our reality now, under the leadership of our President José Eduardo dos Santos. Furthermore, Angola offers important support to other African countries. 
The government and the population play an important role in the sustainable development of Angola. The National Petroleum Institute (INP) provides services not only to qualify people professionally but also at a technical level. Do you think that INP is promoting a social revolution?

Naturally. Since 1983, which was when the institute was created, we have been promoting what we refer to as “Angolanisation”. Basically, this means that we support State policies which seek to train professionals abroad in order to bring back the knowledge acquired and gradually replace expats. 
What happens is that the State brings mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering and oil to INP students, who are given the chance to attend our existing courses. At the moment, we are focusing on technical and professional training. 
The technical training is a course of level three. Back then, we only had three courses: mechanics, drilling and mining. Today, we offer seven courses to the students:  Geology, Mining, Drilling and Production, Mechanics, Gas, Instrumentation and Refinery. In the beginning, we admitted students in our level 3 courses with 8th grade and they studied with us until 12th grade. Now, with the educational reform, student admissions are granted when they are in 9th grade and complete their studies in 12th grade. This is what we call a medium of technical qualification, which is the link between an engineer and a technician.  
Regarding professional training, our goal is to aim at companies that need their existing professionals to improve their skills. In this case, the worker will attend a course that lasts between 4 to 8 months, and in collaboration between the school and the company, we create a tailored study programme to meet the company’s demands.

As a result, those professionals return to the companies and are able to take over the positions needed. We have several courses in this segment but everything depends on the requirements of each company. We work with all the telecom operators, services providers and with the oil sector. A person who wants to work in this field of expertise has, necessarily, to come and study here. 
We are a reference and we have to prepare for the market, we have to contact companies almost every day to know what they need and prepare to train the right professionals. 
How does the institute develop its study programmes, especially regarding oil studies? Is the study programme a partnership between INP, the Department of Education and the Department of Petroleum Resources?
Courses of level three have a vital participation from the Department of Education, because the department regulates the educational system in Angola and approves the courses. Also, we work hand in hand with the Department of Petroleum Resources. The Department of Education sets the rules that we base our programmes on. 
With professional training, students graduate high school but they are still not qualified to work. So, they go to a company and complete a proficiency test, but they are still not completely qualified. At that point, the company identifies which are the deficiencies and communicates them to us so that we can discuss what skills the company takes into account. For example, a geologist can become an electric or mechanic technician. If this person has the aptitude, he will come to INP to complete his studies gaining the opportunity of progressing in the company with no problems. 
Is the contribution of private companies and the oil sector utmost important for this growth? 
This partnership is prime to our success. We are training professionals for the market. When companies feel that the school is not meeting their expectations they discuss it with us. They indicate what areas must be improved, thus we formulate new programmes and the course curriculum. INP also works with international institutes, like the Algerian Oil Institute, because we want to create a uniform curriculum, and we have been working a lot with the French Oil Institute and the Norwegian Institute, which are helping INP to increase its knowledge on submarine technologies as well as training our teachers in Norway.
The whole continent is moving forward. Mozambique will be announced as the fourth largest gas producer and is sending young students to exchange courses abroad. We have students from Mozambique enrolled in Geology, Production and Gas courses. At this moment, we will admit five students in 2013 and 15 are graduating this year.

The institute has been here for almost 30 years and has educated many professionals for the region because it was the only institute that offered those courses. We trained many professionals in the region of Sabeca. INP has educated more than 109 professionals. 
INP’s goal, with such partnerships, is to comprehend the necessary knowledge in order to offer our students excellent training so that they will later be placed in the work market. Logically, our institute needs to grow because there is a high demand of qualified professionals that we are not able to fulfil. However, under the leadership of our Minister of Petroleum José Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos we are working to expand our programmes to gradually respond to that demand. That is what we call “Angolanisation”. 
Considering that oil was a colonised product that had no contribution in social development, can you say that the INP was born to develop Angola for its citizens? 
By then, we had two schools with the same purpose. The IMP (Medium Petroleum Institute), created in 1979 by the Department of Education, and The Petroleum Central School created by Sonangol. In 1983, the former government decided to unify these forces and created the National Petroleum Institute (INP). Our main goal was and, still is, to solve the qualification problem of the Angolans. At this point, we had a partnership with Italians, they had a company in Angola called Colmerin that created our first programmes, our first manuals and trained our first teachers. In 1979, they came to teach in our schools hence the State had to prepare the facilities so that they could start. Today, the majority of our graduated managers and supervisors are from Angola and were educated in our institute.
The institute wants to promote staff capacitating. To achieve this target the institute needs training equipment which is very expensive, qualified teachers to conceive programmes, simulators, laboratories and a training team. It is important to say that the institute changed a lot from the war, the government made large investments in infrastructure, building new facilities, renovating the existing ones, building laboratories, qualifying teachers from English to specific subjects. We recruit young students every day, students that just finished university and come to INP for specialisation. We are a national reference today and we aim to be a continental reference in the future. 
What is the recruitment process to accept students in a course at INP?
It is a national process. The student has to be between 15 and 18 years old, preferably between 15 and 16 so that they can finish earlier. Students must have excellent grades in mathematics, physics, chemistry and Portuguese.

The admissions are granted over documents that prove all these aptitudes. If the student fulfils the requirements, he is admitted. We are working to change this process in 2013. We want the students to complete an exam to enter in a course with us because, usually, school grades are not enough to demonstrate their capability.
We want to know more about international partnerships. What does Angola and the INP need to continue to grow? We know that Germany is investing in qualifying Angolans; there is a group of people going to Germany to attend training courses. Do you expect this partnership to continue in the future?
We are aware of that and it is exactly what we want. We want to increase the number of partners to promote INP’s credibility. We know that Germany dominates the production of training equipment, renewable energy and electric prototype, etc. It is a country that has a vast range of training equipment. I, personally, do not know much about the Germans’ strength in this sector but I will be at the Profession World Championship in Leipzig where I will get more information, not only about Germany but about other countries as well. 
The important thing to do now it is to identify German partners that dominate this type of equipment as well as the qualification of professionals that handle it. We cannot buy last generation equipment if we do not have people who are able to use them. Therefore, our main goal is to have licensed teachers which will lead to fine laboratories, good students and an excellent graduation course to attend the intense demand of industries.
Therefore, I want to leave this message here. Angola is open to new projects. We select the best teachers and students to be educated abroad so that when they return they can improve the quality of this sector in Angola. We selected the three best students for an exchange in South Africa, when they return they will enhance our work here in Angola. Currently, there are 11 students in the USA and another 12 students in Venezuela, in a partnership with Eduardo dos Santos Foundation. Therefore, as you can see, we are already working, and we can do the same with Germany because we have a profound interest in this relationship.
It is important to highlight that INP is not just a place for training; INP also provides services to Angola and, as we want to offer the best services, we need the best teachers. Thus, if there is a company interested in investing in this sector, we offer welding, non-destructive testing to develop projects services. To continue to offer its services, the institute needs its researchers to join international conferences and give lectures in order to raise money. We noticed that when the school did not have a good level, companies started creating their own training centres.

Therefore, they were using their resources to train people; they even had classrooms inside their factories. The companies would bring foreign professionals from Brazil and Portugal to teach in their facilities. We need to teach English, to teach welding and drawing. That is not the enterprises’ role – companies are responsible for the production and we are responsible in preparing people to work. To sum up, the institute has to be 100% active, be in constant contact with enterprises here to know what they need to sell their services. If there is any company interested in this kind of business, we are fully open to it.
It is clear that Angola is growing almost exclusively because of its oil sector. What differential services can Angola offer to international partners? 
We provide research services and teacher, employee and technician training. The institute negotiates the programme with a company and sells the service package. For example, we can hire a foreign teacher and send him/her to a company that is in a post-opening situation, training the professionals with time to spare in our centres.

We have clients like Esso, Total and Painal. That is how INP maintains itself, we are a self-sufficient institution and we work in an isolated area. We are responsible for our water supply, meals and a whole range of services provided there. We are attracting investment even if the government is investing in INP, we need to go a long way. We expect to be independent by 2016/2017 because we do not want to rely financially on our government, and that is another reason why we need to invest in infrastructure, laboratories, equipment and human resources. 
We are currently partnered with a large Angolan producer from the oil sector to adapt to the market. We are strongly active, we know our deficiency but we are evolving. We are aware of our possibilities and opportunities and it is just a matter of time to achieve our goal. 
It is important to say that the oil lies in Angola and we cannot deny this country has a lot to offer in terms of know-how to its partners.
Angola is open to good initiatives and has an advantage because of the international economic crisis. Before, our resources were abroad and now they are in Angola. Therefore, we are open to new partnerships so we can reach another level as fast as possible and enhance the life of our people. We will achieve that with the support of companies interested in coming to Angola and work with us, they are extremely important to our success. 
There is a lot of money spent on qualification courses abroad, while we could use this money right here in Angola. If a company, for example, wants to team up partnership with Canada and the school already has this partnership, it would be much cheaper to send this professional to Canada. Consequently, money will be flowing in Angola and the school will grow. We are very excited and we hope that these partnerships come as soon as possible.
Do you think that the lack of partnerships is a consequence of the lack of information regarding INP’s real capacity? 
Yes, I believe so. For that reason, I want to stress INP’s merits. That is the message we want to convey. INP has a strong and stable partnership; we want our schools to have their certificates accepted internationally, this is very important. Our students get educated but their certificates are not accepted internationally. We are after partnerships to change this situation.