By Emmanuel Nduka
Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) Engr Simbi Wabote, has stressed that African countries must leverage on the robust platform and opportunities presented by African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which according to him, is key to drive home the Local Content narrative to achieve sustainable growth and development in Africa.
Wabote made this clarion call while speaking during the African Local Content Collaboration Session at the ongoing Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston Texas, USA.
While commending the foresight of the league of African leaders that adopted the AfCFTA agreement in 2012, he noted that the AfCFTA has become an enabler for deepening African Local Content practice beyond national borders to enable project delivery and development of natural resources.
Speaking on the theme: ‘Cross-Border Service Integration As Enabler Of Project Delivery In The African Oil And Gas Industry’, the NCDMB boss noted that the AfCFTA is “Africa’s move to harmonize it’s markets for economic integration across all 55 member states with the objective of tapping into the Gross Domestic Product of over $3trillion.”
He noted that with the official commencement of AfCFTA, and the focus on addressing some of Africa’s “teething” problems, the prospect of opportunities among African businesses is gathering momentum, thus, Africa must not be left behind in developing its own response to the prevailing challenges.
Engr Wabote commended the Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN) and other key stakeholders for bringing together participants to this year’s OTC to have a robust strategy session on African Local Content, “especially against the backdrop of the ongoing energy transition narrative and the shifting dynamics of the security of energy supply across the globe.”
“From Kenya to Malawi, from Uganda to Nigeria, and all over the continent. I have always seen AfCFTA as the practice of Local content at the continental level,” he added.
During his presentation, the ES made it clear that to drive Local Content in the Oil and Gas industry, and any other sector, six key parameters must be looked at. He listed them as: “Regulatory Framework, Gap Analysis, Capacity Building, Funding and Incentives, Research and Development, and Access to Market.”
“A law or decree, depending on the political arrangement in a country, sets the framework and boundaries for all local content practitioners.” This, he said, is “better than directives, or policies that are enshrined with the pretext of pushing the boundaries of local content.”
He further noted that in Nigeria, the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act, ensures the compliance of local content requirements. He informed the audience that to this effect, the NOGICD Act established the NCDMB as the sole agency for Local Content implementation in the Oill and Gas industry, adding that the newly passed Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), further renforces the practice of Local Content in the industry.
Wabote told the gathering that the NCDMB has now moved Local Content in Nigeria to 42 percent from the less than five percent that it was before the enactment of the Local Content Act in 2010.
He therefore urged African nations and businesses to take advantage of the opportunities and platform provided the AfCFTA.
“Why can’t we take advantage of the opportunities within Africa? I can tell you that it comes cheaper easier and can be delivered expeditiously. It is my sincere hope that our sister countries take full advantage of this rather than going over to Houston, across the Atlantic or the Pacific in search of capacity development.”
Engr Wabote added that Angola has enacted an Act of Local Content, taking a cue from the success story of Nigeria’s Local Content drive.
Key players of the Oil and Gas industry who gathered at the conference included: Sen. Margaret Okadigbo, Chairman NNPC Board; Richard Kennedy, Managing Director Chevron; Nicholas Odinuwe, PETAN Chairman; High Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, Chairman of Platform Petroleum Limited, and others top captains of industries in Nigeria and Africa.