It is time to create market-driven policies to spur economic growth.

11Oct 2019
By Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
It is time to create market-driven policies to spur economic growth.

THE African Energy Chamber pleaded for better regulatory frameworks, local content development, women empowerment and cross-border cooperation at the opening of the Africa Oil & Power Conference & Exhibition held here earlier this week.

Africa Oil & Power Conference & Exhibition is seeking solutions to make energy work better for Africans and investors. File photo

Attended by hundreds of senior government officials and energy executives from across Africa and beyond, the conference was out to seek solutions to make energy work better for Africans and investors.

Delivering the opening remarks, African Energy Chamber executive chairman Nj Ayuk addressed key issues facing the industry’s future, reminding the continent that it needs to do better to provide energy and jobs to all Africans.

“We are here at AOP not only to highlight success stories but also to have an honest conversation with each other on what needs to be done for our industry, and follow a roadmap to successful implementation on core issues such as regulations and local content policies, the empowerment of women, infrastructure development, cross-border cooperation and fiscal frameworks,” declared Nj Ayuk.

On the issue of regulations and the creation of a better enabling environment for investors and businesses, the African Energy Chamber executive insisted on the need for fair regulations supportive of local industries while encouraging international investments.

“Look to Ghana. The country has built an oil and gas regulatory framework from scratch and built a reputation for transparency and regulatory certainty,” noted Nj Ayuk.

He added: “Its projects are getting off the drawing board and Ghana is already a serious African producer. Regulations have to be progressive, so what matters is to implement regulations that set the ground for the development of a sustainable, local content-oriented and jobs-creating industry.”

Nj Ayuk elaborated: “On local content, look to Nigeria. It has used its oil and gas as a jumping-off point for overall economic development and building up domestic capacities from the ground up while providing the right opportunities for the establishment and growth of strong local companies across the value chain.”

At the core of the African Energy Chamber’s message was also a call to women empowerment across Africa’s energy industry. From creating strong educational and training programmes to implementing progressive policies in the workplace, the Chamber has relentlessly pushed for better policies that provide women with equal opportunities in the workplace and across the industry.

“On the empowerment of women, look to South Africa, which boasts some of the strongest leaders in Africa’s oil and gas sector,” said Nj Ayuk, adding: “Diversity will change our industry for the best and needs to be a priority.”

Commenting on infrastructure development and cross-border cooperation, he said a lack of infrastructure often severely holds back economic and social development, while a lack of roads, pipelines, ports and airports has been stopping exploration and production in its tracks and delaying the progress of otherwise economically viable progress.

The AEC executive described cross-border cooperation as the key to unlocking the continent’s potential, noting: “Look to Senegal and Mauritania. Both have already shown Africa that putting its differences aside and working towards co-developing projects is beneficial for African economies and their people.”

“The GTA project is a landmark project in that regard, and one that will profoundly impact the socio-economic development in both countries. The major step to encourage future such collaboration and projects is to keep the dialogue open and engage more.”

Mid-March last year saw the World Bank approve a $20 million International Development Association (IDA) grant to Mauritania to enhance the country’s capacity to negotiate investment agreements for developing the Great Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA), a large gas resource straddling Mauritania and Senegal.

The grant was meant to help Mauritania mobilise international expertise to strengthen all institutions involved in the sustainable management of the GTA and to enhance the fiscal, legal and regulatory framework. It was also meant to strengthen the government’s capacity to engage effectively with all stakeholders.

“This grant will strengthen Mauritania’s capacity to ensure a major gas resource is developed effectively by private operators with strong support from the government. We trust all stakeholders will be provided an opportunity to engage and contribute to accelerate inclusive growth in Mauritania,” said Laurent Msellati, the World Bank Country Manager for Mauritania.

“The development of this joint resource will require strong cooperation between the governments of Mauritania and Senegal,” said Riccardo Puliti, Senior Director, Energy and Extractives Global Practice at the World Bank Group, adding: “The government of Senegal is receiving similar assistance, so this project could very well serve as an example for other countries that share natural resources with their neighbours.”

The GTA’s development is directly in line with the findings and recommendations of the bank’s 2017 Systematic Country Diagnostic for Mauritania, which emphasized more inclusive growth and a stable macroeconomic environment as key ingredients for reducing poverty by 2030.

Established in 1960, IDA helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programmes meant to boost economic growth, reduce poverty and improve poor people’s lives.

IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 75 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from the agency are designed to bring positive change to the 1.5 billion people living in IDA countries.

Since 1960, the agency has supported development work in 113 countries, with about 54 per cent of its annual commitments over the last three years going to Africa.