University wins funding to help Tanzania develop oil and gas expertise

The University of Aberdeen and the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) have been awarded two million euros in European Union funding to help develop higher education in Tanzania and create a sustainable oil and gas sector in the East African country.

The money will be used to fund a three-year project that will promote learning, research and knowledge-sharing between the University in conjunction with the Aberdeen Institute of Energy (AIE), and academics and students at UDSM. Stakeholders from the public and private sector will also benefit from the arrangement.

Tanzania is home to significant gas reserves, and the funding award follows a call by the EU to European and Tanzanian universities for proposals in support of its programme to develop the oil and gas sector in the country, which has a shortage of oil and gas expertise.

The objective of the EU call is to promote capacity building in Tanzanian higher education institutions involved in the promotion of the petroleum industry.

The University will now work with UDSM to develop their curriculum across a range of energy-related disciplines, including engineering, geosciences, social sciences, business and law.

Members of staff will visit Aberdeen to deliver training, while two PhD students from Tanzania are due to commence their studies with the University from March 1, which is the start date for the project.

John Scrimgeour, Executive Director of the Aberdeen Institute of Energy, said: “The University of Aberdeen is delighted to receive €2 million in European Union funding to help develop energy-related higher education in Tanzania, which is testament to the unique multi-disciplinary approach the University takes towards energy research and its benefits to industry through the AIE, as well as our location in Europe’s energy capital.

"There are significant gas reserves in Tanzania, however the country relies heavily on oil and gas sector expertise from abroad. Understandably, the government of Tanzania wants to develop its own home-grown expertise in order to develop a sustainable oil and gas industry and establish the country as a major energy influence in the region, however to do so it needs to create capacity in their universities to develop geologists, engineers, chemists, lawyers and economists.”

Mr Scrimgeour added:

“Our approach will combine practical training for academic staff and businesses in the oil and gas sector in Tanzania, but in a sustainable way so that the country develops the expertise that will help it respond to its own needs in the future. This is complemented by the knowledge and skills we can call upon from our partners in the Oil and Gas Academy of Scotland, who have supported us as the lead organisation on this bid.

“Working with the University of Dar es Salaam we will help promote research and learning through education and staff exchange, develop their curriculum for sustainable oil and gas education, and establish and maintain sustainable links and collaborations with the oil and gas industry in Tanzania.”

Mrs Kathryn Fowler, Deputy Executive Director of the Aberdeen Institute of Energy, who will coordinate the project, said: “The whole basis of the call from the EU to partner European universities with Tanzanian universities was to assist them in developing these capabilities, and the fact that the University of Aberdeen has been chosen as the recipient of this funding recognises the quality and expertise that exists here across a range of energy-related disciplines.”

Professor Cuthbert Kimambo, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Knowledge Exchange) at the University of Dar es Salaam, said: “This is a very exciting development which will benefit all the partners and enable the University of Dar es Salaam to contribute to the development of oil and gas sector opportunities in Tanzania. I look forward to our collaboration with the University of Aberdeen.”

Dr Alfred Akisanya, Dean for Sub-Saharan Africa Affairs at the University of Aberdeen, said: “The University is committed to supporting the development of research, teaching and business networks in Africa, and this funding announcement is a welcome boost to our ambitions.

“Internationalisation is a key part of the University’s strategy, and this project is a perfect fit to our expertise and experience of 50 years of the North Sea energy industry.

“I am delighted that experts from the University will be working with academic colleagues and students at the University of Dar es Salaam to help Tanzania develop a sustainable oil and gas sector that will benefit the country and its people, and I look forward to welcoming staff and students from UDSM to Aberdeen in future.”