South African Ambassador to Liberia, Professor Iqbal Jhazbhay (center wearing cap) alongside AMLTA Manager Dawie Loots and staff of the AMLTA
South African Ambassador to Liberia, Professor Iqbal Jhazbhay has called on Liberian youths to take advantage of the many opportunities being created by ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML) to empower themselves educationally and economically, as the company progresses with its Phase II expansion project and the construction of a concentrator which requiring various technical skills.
Visiting the AML Yekepa concession recently, Ambassador Jhazbhay said he was impressed curriculum and scope of the ArcelorMittal Liberia Training Academy, which is giving skills to young people in vocational areas associated with mining.
AMLTA has four vocational areas of concentration wherein trainees can specialize during the three-year period. Areas of specialization include Diesel Mechanics, Boilermaking, Machining, Electricity/Electronics, and Fitting. The South African diplomat observed that setting up the vocational training center serves as a “solid” example to help train Liberians to contribute to their country, society, and their livelihoods.
Ambassador Jhazbhay said he sees Liberia as a center for mining in West Africa, with enormous mineral resources that should encourage young people to specialize in various areas of mining.
“When Liberian students specialize in mining to develop the resources here, it can also put Liberia on the development par in the way it has never been before,” said Ambassador Jhazbhay.
With a longstanding mining history, South Africa has some of its citizens working with ArcelorMittal in Liberia. Besides the expertise they bring to AML, Liberia and South Africa also have a longstanding diplomatic relationship. Ambassador Jhazbhay recalled that in 1962, President William V.S. Tubman hosted former South African President and liberation leader, Nelson Mandela and other South Africans and gave them a lot of support.
He said President William Tubman strongly supported the liberation struggle in South Africa, and Liberia hosted a lot of its leaders and lecturers who taught at the University of Liberia.
Ambassador Jhazbhay commended South African nationals for the work they are doing at AML saying, “My message to you is to continue on the same trajectory. And of course, South Africans should make time available to share their expertise and skills with resilience and patience; it’s time to give back to Liberia.”
At the AMLTA facility, the Manager, Dawie Loots took the Ambassador and his delegation on a tour of the facility and explained the processes leading to the training and recruitment of trainees. In his explanation, Loots indicated that establishing a training program requires analyzing the kind of business that the training will support, identifying the skills and attitudes, and profiling the supervisors and the skills.
He stressed that the training, being practical and technical requires management to conduct a rigorous assessment of candidates, thereby bringing onboard the most prepared group of applicants into the Academy.
Loots also told the Ambassador that AMLTA motivates the trainees by giving them free accommodation, daily meals, and a monthly stipend.
To succeed in implementing the training, the AMLTA Manager said he usually acquaints his co-workers with the goal and objectives of the institution and they, as an institution evaluate their activities periodically to determine their progress and shortcoming.
Meanwhile, the South African Ambassador said as Liberia celebrates 20 years of peace, South Africa, learning from her past mistakes, should also help sustain Liberia’s peace to develop a brighter economic future for the youths, while they avoid mistakes of the past.
To pursue this goal, the Ambassador indicated that South Africa has begun the process of developing scholarship and student exchange programs between the II countries.
The visit took Ambassador Jhazbhay and his entourage to the newly opened Yuelliton mines after touring the facilities of AMLTA. At the mines, Edgar Nunes, Infrastructure Manager, guided the Ambassador and entourage, showing them the site where the concentrator is being built, the Yuelliton Pit, and other mining infrastructures.