Stakeholders and policy leaders in Africa’s Oil and Gas, and other related sectors, have unanimously advocated for a new local content strategy for Africa with a focus on adequate regulatory framework, funding, human capacity development and strategic Research and Development (R&D) with effective gaps analysis to positively drive the local content narrative as an imperative for domestication and sustainable growth of Africa’s hydrocarbon resources.
The stakeholders who gathered at the maiden edition of the African Local Content Roundtable in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State agreed that funding is critical to driving local content, especially with the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which has affected the economy of most Africa countries.
Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote, while setting the context at the Pan-African engagement, harped on the need for a strong regulatory framework as part of the efforts by the Nigerian government to make local content a core part of the national energy policy framework.
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He said funding and incentives are critical to implementing “local content programmes, develop infrastructure, attract new investments, and keep existing businesses afloat” adding that the Nigerian Content Development Fund (NCDF) has earmarked a $350million intervention fund in partnership with the Bank of Industry (BOI).
Wabote recalled that the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content (NOGICD Act) 2010 as established, makes the NCDMB the sole regulator of Oil and Gas in Nigeria.
He said “A sustainable local content practice requires that the right regulatory framework is put in place, regular gap analysis and the setting of targets for gap closure. The right resources including funding and incentives are required to build capacities and capabilities. R&D is the key drivers to bring innovation and avoid obsolescence”
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, opined that Africa must now come up with policies that will further deepen the conversations on local content administration, adding that the success story of the NCDMB as the champion of local content practice in Africa has led to the extension of local content services to other sectors in Nigeria and Africa at large.
Sylva, regretted that decades of exploration of hydrocarbon in Nigeria have not translated into sustainable growth, stressing that the African Local Content Roundtable will henceforth be a “signatory event”. He said Nigeria must also look to explore its 303billion cubic feet of gas reserves.
Secretary-General of African Petroleum Producers Organization (APPO), Omar Farouk Ibrahim, stressed the need to put resources together before it is late to harness Africa’s oil products, adding that the time has come for countries in Africa to “close its eyes to the challenges of boundaries.”
He further stated that as a result of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization is now committed to ensuring that hydrocarbon emissions are curtailed, as well as the continents’ over-dependence on oil, stressing that it has become paramount for every nation to have its refinery and gas plants.
APPO Executive Board Member from Algeria, Madam Massout Samia, posited that Africa must introduce facilitation and document activities to augment resources related to local content. She said aside from the regulation of hydrocarbon and the revenue that comes in from oil, benefits from technological advancement must also be pursued.
The Chairman, Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN) Mr. Nicholas Odinuwe called on African governments to develop mechanisms for independent start-ups, as policies alone are not enough to drive local content in Africa. He said the legislation remains essential.
The Commissioner, Energy, And Mines (ECOWAS), Mr. Sediko Douka, listed some of the challenges impeding the local content initiative as the absence of well-established institutions, lowly motivated staff, lack of private sector participation, low level of value addition, licensing, and climate change.
The ECOWAS rep emphasized the need to improve on regional cooperation and development of the extractive industry with a call for improved infrastructure to promote an investment-friendly climate and the establishment of institutions to drive the local content narrative in Africa.
He also prescribed the promotion of the advancement of human capabilities through training and enhancement as a panacea for integrated guidelines for social corporate responsibility. He further stressed the need to have local content as the backbone for development in Africa and urged member countries to ensure that its oil facilities are open to member countries.
Executive Secretary, National Action Committee on AfCFTA, Mr. Francis Anatogu observed that for any product to be considered as local content, it must meet a minimum local content standard.
“We must do local content to protect our currency and grow it. Africa records over $500billion of products per annum,” he noted.
According to the AfCFTA Exec Secretary, the local content initiative is capable of lifting 30 million Africans out of extreme poverty, boost the incomes of nearly 68 million others who live on less than $5.50 a day, increase Africa’s exports by $560 billion, mostly in manufacturing, and boost Africa’s income by $450 billion by 2035.