08Aug 2018
By Financial Times Reporter
Financial Times
  • An Ivy-League educated Tanzanian working to develop the country's gas economy

Many students around the world would do anything to get into one of the Ivy League universities — including Harvard, Yale, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania — because graduating with a degree from those coveted universities is seen as a guaranteed-


path to success. Through hard work and perseverance, BEATUS RWEGACHURA (pictured), managed to get a scholarship to Princeton and now works as an economist for Shell Tanzania to develop the country's natural gas industry. He spoke to WINNIE HENRY. Excerpts...

Q. Please tell us about your background

A. I am 32 years old and in terms of education, I went to Oysterbay Primary School in Dar es Salaam from grade 1 to 7 then St. Anthony Mbagala for my O-level studies. I got selected to Mzumbe High School for my A-levels, but I only stayed there for three months because I got a scholarship from the International Schools of Tanganyika (IST). I was among only four students chosen from around 100 applications. I completed my two years of high school at IST and then applied for universities in the United States. I got accepted by three big universities, but I chose to join Princeton University in the US, where I studied for four years pursuing bachelor’s of science degree in financial engineering. Later, I studied a postgraduate certificate in mathematical engineering at the University of York in the United Kingdom.


Q. What did you do after graduating from university?

A. Princeton is in New Jersey, so after I was done with university in 2010 I applied for a job in New York. I worked for a small investment bank called TAP Advisors, which was established by some individuals who left UBS, a big Swiss bank in New York. The main focus of TAP Advisors was to assist clients with mergers and acquisitions in the telecoms sector. I worked there as an investment bank analyst and it was a very demanding job, which required me to work long hours. But it was a very good opportunity because I got to learn a lot.

While I was there, we managed to close a $500 million deal. I worked there for two years then came back home to pursue another career in Tanzania.  When I came back, I got a job with BG Group Tanzania in 2012 as an economist. Later on, Shell Ltd acquired BG Group, so I transitioned from BG Group to Shell Ltd as an economist. For the whole Tanzanian liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, I have now worked a total of six years.

Q. Most economists work for the government or in banks, why did you choose to work for an oil and gas company?

A. I started at a bank in the United States. However, when I came to BG/Shell, my job title changed from analyst to economist which is still basically the same work.

When I actually came to Tanzania, I had two interviews, one at a bank and another here at BG Group, but BG Group was quick to respond to my interview. I chose BG Group for my own personal career growth because I wanted to do something challenging.

Q. What does your role as an economist at shell Tanzania entail?

A. As an economist, you sit in the middle of everything. The geophysicists will give you their input and the development people will give you their input with costs and the commercial people will give you the input from contracts, how much tax payment is due, how much the government gets and so forth.

  We gather all this information and make an economic model that is updated daily because of various changes. Through this information we run the numbers to see if the project is investible, does it make sense, will it make money for us and can we improve cost efficiency of the project.

On the other side, we look at whether or not a project is as good for us as it is for the government, because if it is good to the investor but not the government then maybe it will not get a go ahead. So after all the input, our output as economists is the net present value of the project.

We give our output to management then management decides if the price is too high, what then needs to be done to reduce that price and then we can go maybe to the development people so they can reduce their costs, or we go to commercial people and we try to see if they can negotiate better contracts with the government or suppliers to reduce costs. So the overall cost of the project comes from the economists.

Q. What impact will the natural gas discovery and planned development of an LNG terminal have on Tanzania's economy?

A. From Shell's point of view through the LNG project, a lot of natural gas will be developed which will first save costs for the government because it is going to be efficient but it will also bring a lot of revenue to the government. Some of the benefits include the government's annual revenue can possibly range from $2 billion to $3 billion dollars.

The investment of over $30 billion for the LNG project will in turn bring a lot of positive changes, like job opportunities during the construction phase of the project which will take around five years. But there will also be indirect opportunities because through the project people will establish their own businesses like building hotels, hostels or restaurants, schools, basically cities will grow out of that period of the project. Another advantage is that the gas obtained from the project will be used to fuel electricity generation because right now Tanzania is incurring a lot of costs to buy diesel to fuel electricity generation.


Q. What advice do you have for fellow young Tanzanians who would like to work in the oil and gas industry?

A. One advice is that you need to work really hard and secondly, you need to have an open mind and welcome any opportunity that comes to you with both arms. My overall advice, especially for those that are going to university is that find something that gives you general skills. As a young person you should not limit yourself to anything.

For example, you can work in the oil and gas industry if you studied economics or law. It's not true that only people who studied engineering can work in the oil and gas industry. So study something that will make it easy for you to apply your skills.