Industry players call for more collaboration between African countries

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By Ndubuisi Micheal Obineme

For a very long time, the oil and gas industry has continued to be a fast generating asset for African countries and a major source of energy in this 21st century. Africa is seen as a ‘Big Continent’ with bigger prospects despite the challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic and low oil price incident is among the hardest-hit to the region. Apart from that, tough operating and economic conditions, coupled with regulatory uncertainty, political instability and a lack of infrastructure has become a major challenge.

This article provides key recommendations from industry experts on ways of improving African oil and gas business and investment environments, strategic insights to positioning Africa’s energy market for global opportunities.

However, a new platform has emerged which serves as a connecting point, as well as a top-notch guide for government, industry players, stakeholders, and operators. Oil and Gas Republic in its investigative report has unearthed the Sub-Saharan Africa International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (SAIPEC), as the only truly industry-led event, held in partnership with the country’s petroleum

Based on our findings, SAIPEC is the largest event in the region’s oil and gas hub. It was previously known as West Africa International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (WAIPEC), but it was rebranded to Sub-Saharan Africa International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (SAIPEC) af ter several collective agreements between the steering committee and organizers of the event to attracting a much wider audience and broaden the event beyond West African region, but also to a much wider audience in Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to report, SAIPEC attracts over 6000 attendees, 650 delegates from across 36 countries, 104 exhibitors and 54 speakers, including 11 National Oil Companies, IOCs, CEO/MD’s plus their delegations from Mozambique, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Uganda, Angola, Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, Equatorial Guinea and Gambia.

Following the successful editions, industry experts have raised critical issues that need to be addressed in order to develop and nurture the region’s oil and gas industry for economic transformation.

Industry experts also confirm that there are still unexplored offshore areas with huge potential for oil and gas. According to them, the challenge, of course, is that this new potential is mainly located at deepwater depths. And, as offshore hydrocarbon developments move deeper and into more complex areas, many technological
challenges exist for operators and offshore engineering service providers.

To meet the growing energy demand, operators will require a favorable investment environment, collaboration, innovation & technology, and best practices to boost productivity and reduce costs on projects.

Industry experts have said that the future of energy in Sub-Saharan Africa is bright especially with offshore exploration development, noting that African countries need to work together, focus more on collaborative measures and strategies that will position the region to compete globally.

In their words, “All the African countries should have a collaborative strategy and common ideas on ways to collaborate for the growth of the industry. There should also be delibrations focused more on collaborative strategies on human capacity development between African countries.

“African government should set practical steps on moving the collaboration forward. And, there should be a steering committee to do follow-ups on the action plans for every participating country and company.

“Sustaining oil and gas production is not just about putting any kind of
innovation, but having strategic innovations in place that will change the
market dynamics.

“ECOWAS needs to be at the forefront in the push for this innovation and collaboration with a key aim of doubling the trade level.

“APPO should be involved in all FORA of oil and gas decision making and processes.

“There is a need for all African countries to come together and compete in a global capital investment market. Improved transparency, efficiency, and stable investment is key to achieving it.

“Seek technological advancement and see other African countries as friends, not competitors.

“Updating skills sets and collaborate to educate key stakeholders on key judicial and security issues.

“There should be a working synergy between the government, companies, and host communities with a clear definition of the owner of the resources.

“There should be clearly circulated business laws and regulations of host countries to enable easy investment across the continent. There should be a policy for a certain amount of content coverage.

“African Independent and small E&P companies should have the privilege to bid for the oil blocks.

“There should be capacity development and promotion of local content across all African countries.

“There should be a uniform local content criteria and guideline across Sub-Saharan Africa. Policies should be put in place to enabling a working local content space across Africa.

“Local content should be seen as an economic pursuit, not a charitable venture and it should be backed up by-laws.

“The future is gas – therefore more African countries need to focus more on gas production and utilization.

“Infrastructural investment is strongly needed in the African oil and gas industry.

“A good R&D operating framework should be established that will provide funding on research. African government should invest in training; talent and skill retention.

“The use of language will improve synergy and collaboration to develop the industry.

“The French-speaking countries should strive to learn English and the Englishspeaking countries should also try to learn French.

“African countries should form an oil and gas service providers association which will serve as a focal point for joint pursuit of objectives that will foster local and regional collaborations.

“There should also be the development of African content strategy and collaboration/partnership framework between regional service providers.

“Acceptance of African work experience as local qualifying work experience in other African countries is also important.

“APPO and AFRAA should work closely on promoting African content across Sub-Saharan Africa.

“PETAN should work closely with NCDMB and IOC to organize trade delegations to African countries, attend the exhibition and engage local service providers in those countries.

“PETAN should work with APPO to engage policymakers to improve mobility across the oil & gas exploration and producing countries in Africa, through seamless approval of visa on arrival at the airports,” they concluded.

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