The recent exploration activities have revealed that Tanzania is endowed with large quantities of natural gas. The first gas discovery was realized at Songo Songo Island in 1974 but it was not until 2004 when it was commercialized. The second discovery was made in 1982 in Mtwara and it was commercialized in 2006. The years that followed the commercialization of these two earlier discoveries have seen the intensification of natural gas exploration activities with the Tanzanian government having entered 26 Production Sharing Agreements with 18 exploration companies to-date (TPDC, http://www.tpdc-tz.com/tpdc/). These efforts have seen the increase of natural gas reserves from 45 billion cubic feet in 2004 to 43 trillion cubic feet in 2013 from both the on-shore and off-shore basins (TPDC, http://www.tpdc-tz.com/tpdc/).

Despite the tremendous achievements in discovery of natural gas, Tanzania faces a number of challenges related to inadequacies in the legal and regulatory framework, gas infrastructure, human resources in different areas (including in oil and gas engineering, geosciences, risks and disaster management, transport and logistics management, oil and gas economics as well as in social and environmental sustainability). These inadequacies are compounded by the inherently low capacity of local institutions to educate professionals in these areas. Other challenges relate to the fact that most of the recent discoveries are found in ecologically sensitive areas with critical marine and terrestrial ecosystems which are an important source of livelihoods of many surrounding communities. Concerns have emerged on the issues of sustainability of these ecosystems and, more importantly, on the modalities of benefit distribution between different actors; the private sector, government institutions and community groups.

In order for Tanzania to maximize the economic benefits, avoid civil discontent and unforeseen costs and ensure harmonious transition towards oil and gas economy, strategic and culturally sensitive education will be required at all levels; operational, legal and policy and throughout the value chain of the industry. Not only are such trainings inadequate in areas of geology and petroleum engineering, they are generally lacking in the fields of sustainable development (i.e. community relations, resource ownership and rights, impact assessments and environmental compliance), law and commerce (i.e. economics, pricing, finance, accounting, general management and human resource processes). These skills are critical to the introduction of ‘local content’ required for a competitive and efficient domestic market and for the promotion of socio-economic and environmental sustainability. It is against this background that the UDSM seeks to build the capacity of Tanzanians for effective, efficient and sustainable management of oil and gas industry.

The discovery of large quantities of natural gas in Tanzania has come at a time when the country lacks well educated personnel in oil and gas sector. To alleviate this problem, the University of Dar es Salaam responded to the lack of skilled trained personnel by introducing three Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree programmes in Petroleum Engineering, Petroleum Chemistry and Petroleum Geology, all of which started admitting students in October 2013. Fifteen students were admitted in the B.Sc. Petroleum Geology programme, 23 students in B.Sc. in Petroleum Chemistry and 24 students in B.Sc. in Petroleum Engineering. The introduction of these three programmes initiated a number of collaborations with the oil and gas exploration companies (e.g. Statoil, BG, Shell, TPDC, Swala Energy Ltd) as well as the oil and gas service companies (e.g. Schlumberger and Halliburton). The collaboration ranges from conducting seminars and workshops, providing fieldwork and laboratory equipment, supporting  university fees for  undergraduate students and training postgraduate students.

At national level, the Ministries of Energy and Minerals and Education and Vocational Training formed the taskforce which conducted the mapping and analysis of the needs for petroleum related education in Tanzania (Hellevik et al., 2013). The education of UDSM staff members to Master and PhD levels, short term training of UDSM staff and staff exchange programmes are all geared towards assisting UDSM to build the capacity to offer quality education and develop new, culturally appropriate and in accordance with sustainable development, curricula in the oil and gas sector. The University of Dar es Salaam started its efforts to develop capacity in oil and gas sector in 2010. It engaged in dialogue with prospective industrial partners such as Halliburton, Schlumberger, Statoil, BG, and Ophir among others, on possible support for training, curriculum development, student internship, guest lectures and research facility improvement. At various points in time, the university entered into a MoU with some of the companies including Schlumberger, STATOIL, Halliburton, TPDC etc. for support of its initiatives. In 2011 the University entered into a tripartite agreement with the Norwegian University of Technology (NTNU) and the University of Agostinho Netto (UAN) on the training of high level manpower to Masters level for the oil and gas sector. The programme is codenamed ANTHEI (Angolan, Norwegian and Tanzanian Higher Education Initiative). Further, in collaboration with industrial partners, the university developed three undergraduate programmes in Petroleum Engineering, Petroleum Geology and Petroleum Chemistry. The current application therefore, if granted, will build on the initial existing provision within higher education.