GFP International

Africa Welding Summit

Africa Welding Summit

November 2024 in Nairobi or Dar es Salaam

Co-Hosts of the Africa Welding Summit

Purpose and background

Africa is said to be the youngest continent on earth, as 70% of the population is below 30 years old. According to analysts, Africa and the world stand a chance of reaping big rewards from this demographic group if it is educated and skilled. Failure to educate these critical masses of young people may become a bulge that extremists and drug barons will use to create social and political mayhem that will see the world becoming a dangerous place to live in.

More than ever, the African youth long for opportunities to develop their talents and become the drivers of socio-economic development in their countries and beyond. This desire and aspiration are always met with challenges related to the accessibility of quality education and training and a job market that is not growing rapidly enough to utilize their skills.

For many young people in Africa, education and skills are the only keys to success. Only when people are educated and skilled can their potential be fully utilized, while applying reason and thoughts in the right direction and make significant decisions. Throughout history, education and skills have positively impacted human life in all dimensions.

Current welding training programs throughout East Africa are oriented toward ornamental welding, not industrial welding. In East Africa, students spend 85% of their time learning welding theory and doing simple projects like fences, gates, tables, chairs, doors, and window frames. Welding curricula that lead to high skill involve 85% of time spent on skill development and only 15% of time on welding theory. As a result, current welding schools have about one welding machine for every ten students, whereas high skill schools require at least one welding machine per student and other shop equipment that is lacking. Therefore, the introduction of high skill welding will require expansion and modernization of the existing welding schools across East Africa and the rest of the continent.

The American Welding Society (AWS) projects that the US will need 360,000 new welding professionals by 2027. The European Welding Federation (EWF) reports a shortage of around 300,000 qualified welders in Europe. Countries like Germany have a heightened demand for skilled welders in the automotive and manufacturing sectors.

According to Australia’s recent employment outlook survey, skilled trades workers (such as electricians and welders), engineers (electrical, civil, and mechanical), and technicians are scarce. Similarly, in a recent report regarding the employment market in the Flanders region of Belgium, the VDAB (Flemish employment office) calls the search for technical personnel “simply problematic.”

While most countries in Africa pride themselves on having a high number of critically assessed welders, most of these welders, unfortunately, do not fall within the bracket of competent and knowledgeable welders. Easy evidence of this fact is the continuous influx of expatriate welders despite the supposed high number of welders claimed by different countries.

Current local content practice allows project investors to bring in expats if there is insufficient local labor with the adequate skills. With the current global shortage of welders, this strategy is no longer viable, which raises project risks to unacceptable levels. Local capacity building is the best approach to address this dilemma for investors in large projects and manufacturing facilities. Project owners can no longer look to the contractors to address this dilemma. Early investment in facilities and training is needed to mitigate the labor risks and build goodwill in the host countries.

The availability of natural resources and local skilled labour is a good recipe for attracting foreign investment in a given country. Mega projects are being earmarked for execution within the East African countries due to a heightened focus on industrialization, manufacturing, and the exploration of oil and natural gas. When concerned stakeholders team up to build the required skill set with a local touch, they greatly reduce their operational and cost risks due to a lack of human capital and productivity loss.

Providing new opportunities for African youth is fundamental to expanding and positioning them for current and future progress and growth in the spirit of leaving no one behind. The Welding Summit aims to help young Africans access regional and international labour markets, mobilize diverse financial resources to support the welding training department, build regional and global networks, and increase the youth’s ability to shape their socio-economic development. Moreover, the Summit will act as a regional platform for national and international leaders from the public and private sectors to advocate inclusive policies and strategies required to support employment opportunities within and outside Africa. The Summit will bring together 300 selected participants, including young people in and out of training, educators, entrepreneurs, investors, business influencers, political leaders, economists, journalists, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and donors, to discuss career paths and business opportunities in welding during the three days event. The Summit will be held at Karen, Nairobi from 7th November to 9th November 2024


The Summit aims to enhance partnerships and expand welding job opportunities across the East African region and internationally by achieving the following objectives:

  • Inspiring young people interested in welding with regional and global job openings
  • Provide networking and clustering business opportunities and foster strategic alliances among the business players in the welding space.
  • Identify strategies to transform the existing ornamental welding schools to industrial welding schools.
  • Delivering targeted capacity-building to trainers to acquire international certification as the train of trainers.
    Engaging East African countries in developing improved welding policy frameworks that promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth and build resilient infrastructures to nurture regional welding experts.


  •  Enhanced young people’s access to employment opportunities in the welding space locally and internationally.
  •  International and regional players in the welding space are networked and doing business together.
  •  Vocational training institutions in the region are earmarked for training and assessing welders recognized locally and internationally through the American Welding Society (AWS).
  •  Influence policymakers to strengthen the business-enabling environment for creating local jobs aligned with the associated sectors.

Theme and Structure

The 2024 Summit’s theme is “Welding Opportunities Beyond Border” (WOBB), which
will be divided into the following three subthemes over three days:

  • Day 1: Opportunities to access welding jobs in the local and global value chains
  • Day 2: Quality training, assessment, and certification of welders
  • Day 3: Digitization, robotics, and disruptive innovation and the green transition in the
    welding space

Each day will start with a panel that showcases inspiring and innovative approaches to the theme from the East African region and globally. This will be followed by an opportunities “know-how” discussion to elaborate on the practical interventions needed to strengthen access to opportunities as per the theme.

In the afternoon, panel discussions will provide an overview of best practices in the region, including strategies, policies, and support programmes in place, gaps affecting the uptake and rollout, and, subsequently, capacity-building required to address the gaps. To conclude the day, interactive discussions will provide hands-on tools termed the day’s takeaway and pathways for the future beyond the summit.

In addition, the Summit will offer an interactive exhibition space for institutions, equipment vendors, SMEs, business enablers, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, donors, and international delegations. It will last for three days and be organized by GFP International, and American Welding Society (AWS) partners. The summit will focus on specific target groups and relevant topics, and there will be networking spaces and dedicated media booths.

Lead Summit Sponsors

GFP International

GFP International is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization headquartered in the USA with a history in East Africa that began in 2005. Its original mission was to support the construction of an elementary school in the underserved rural community of Matamba, Tanzania. GFP International also brought five faith leaders from Tanzania to the US and placed them with host families to help foster mutually beneficial people-to-people connections.

More recently, working with various institutions, GFP has expanded its education and training mission to include an initial goal of enhancing the training of 5,000 workers with advanced industrial welding skills to support industrial development work in Tanzania and throughout the East African Community.  Beyond welding, GFP International will also focus on raising electrical and instrumentation skills to world-class standards.

American Welding Society (AWS)

Founded in 1919, the American Welding Society is a non-profit organization with a global mission: to advance the science, technology, and application of welding and allied joining and cutting processes worldwide, including brazing, soldering, and thermal spraying.

By fostering knowledge, embracing change, and providing real-world opportunities through scholarships, fellowships, and workforce development, AWS provides the tools to help members succeed—and inspire future generations of welding professionals.

AWS is the go-to source for professional certification and education. Their certifications cover nine industry categories to address all segments of welding and joining and help you reach your career goals. AWS also offers comprehensive, expert-developed training resources — online courses, instructor-led seminars, and more — that can enhance your career and earning potential. Students, experienced welders, and other industry professionals — they offer something for everyone.


Attendance at this three-day event will expose the participants to some of the most knowledgeable global experts in welding and its related industries depicted in the pie chart below.

Stay tuned for more a more detailed agenda as it takes shape.