Achebe advocates competitive market, local content, others to advance Africa’s downstream sector


The Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, CFR has underscored the need for transition to a competitive market across the entire continent of Africa and the need to improve the local content in the downstream sector of the economy in order that Africans can add more value to their resources.

Achebe who stated this in his opening remark at the ongoing OTL Africa Downstream Week in Lagos harped on the need for less stifling and less suffocating regulatory environment for the downstream sector in Africa to thrive.

While stressing the need for an environment that encouraged competition rather than one that stifled activities, the royal father reiterated that brand awareness of course was rising which he said showed that downstream industry players were ready for competition without patronage which according to him should be encouraged.

He identified some of the problems and challenges of the sector to include; policies and the overhang of policies in the pricing of the petroleum products and subsidies which he said leads on to patronage.

“Africa today has grown in relevance and I can see two reasons why. First of all, it holds significant repository of reserves of petroleum and contributes therefore significantly to that proportion of global reserves. Secondly also, Africa represents, I think the fastest growing continent and market in terms of population and the usefulness of population, therefore, growing economies and growing market. Again, it is for that reason that this conference has become very significance. Nigeria itself, somehow symbolizes Africa itself, large growing population, the largest Black Country in the world, young population, growing and with vibrancy, growing market and also a repository of hydrocarbon.

“I think all of us agree that we need much more open market and much more open field so that competition can take place and the need for transition to a competitive market which I just mentioned across the entire continent of Africa and even to improve the local content so that we can add more value to our resources. Even if we have to export it and of course use some locally to add more value to our resources and the need for less stifling or less suffocating regulatory environment, in that context, I think of Nigeria’s PIB which has been in the making for I don’t know how long. By the time it succeeds and come into law, maybe our petroleum resources have ran out.

Earlier in his welcome address, the convener of the conference, Mr. Emeka Akabogu stated that the continent remained one of the highest populated regions of the world with consumption witnessing year on year increase, operators within the continent’s key regions realized and were keen on exploring all opportunities.

He however argued that it was not all about competition as competition was about profile, value, service delivery and branding saying that those were all the essence of OTL that had been realized by many who have participated at the event over the years.

Akabogu who is also the Senior Partner of Akabogu & Associates said,” The theme of this year’s event is Unlocking Value for Industry Synergy. With a clear realization that patronage based market are not sustainable and that the future lies in the opening of the petroleum market to price and value competition, the most important challenge to operators will be the capacity to compete at the highest level. Capacity is no doubt enhanced by synergy, through focus on areas of strength; industry cooperation is therefore most necessary now at both government and private level.

“The theme of this discussion within the week will focus on the range of emerging opportunities inherent in the downstream value chain which had hitherto witnessed some optimal focus. This year’s event will further empower African oil and gas to harness the economic potentials of the downstream sector in areas ranging from crude oil value addition/refining, the development of critical supply infrastructure across regions and across nations, we will talk through prospects for refining in Africa, finance for downstream trading and infrastructure project, regional cooperation, mergers, takeovers and much more. We will also take discussion on the sector’s disruptive incidences, the rising profile and application of LPG across the continent as well as renewable energy.

“Government engagement with the industry is always crucial not only for mutual engagement in facilitation of seamless industry operation but for ensuring the very legitimately of government, administration and indeed entrepreneurs. Government at the highest level can never be too busy to engage with the industry and must prioritize opportunities for optimal promotion of actual and perceived harmony between policy and operation. We must therefore commend those governments which have taken out time and effort to optimize their representation at the event of this week. Particular commendation goes to the government, national and sub-national that are here present including key regulatory agencies”.

Photo: L-R: Mr. Shiraz Gany, MD/CEO Petrocam Trading (pty) Limited, Mr. Reginald Stanley, Chairman, Petrowest Energy Limited/Board of Advisers, OTL Africa Downstream, mr. Henry Obih, Chief Operating Officer/ Group Executive Director (Downstream) Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, Mrs. Ijeoma Onyeri, Deputy Director, Department of Petroleum Resources, Hon. Joseph Akinlaja, Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Resources Downstream and Mr. Emeka Akabogu of the Akabogu & Associates during the opening ceremonies in Lagos yesterday.

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