Namibia Energy Conference Focuses on Entrepreneurship, Local Content

Stakeholders Discuss Job Creation, Local Partnerships in Energy Sector

by Adenike Adeodun

On April 23, 2024, the Namibian International Energy Conference opened its doors in Windhoek, gathering industry leaders, policymakers, and business executives for a pivotal three-day event aimed at reshaping Namibia’s energy landscape. This conference, now in its sixth year, serves as a critical platform for fostering dialogue and cultivating partnerships that are expected to drive sustainable growth in the nation’s burgeoning energy sector.

One of the focal points of this year’s discussions was the acceleration of entrepreneurship within the oil and gas industry. This comes at a time when Namibia is preparing to implement the National Upstream Petroleum Local Content Policy. This ambitious policy is designed not only to enhance the benefits derived from oil and gas production beyond the conventional short-term taxes and royalties but also to develop comprehensive linkages that could provide extensive socio-economic benefits across the entire value chain.

Dr. Abisai Konstantinus, Managing Director of Ndatara Surveys and Oryx Services Namibia, emphasized the transformative potential of the local content policy. “With the implementation of this policy, we are looking at a potential employment boom, with an estimated 30,000 new jobs in the oil and gas sector within the next five years,” he stated. The establishment of a dedicated local content unit was proposed as a dual-function entity that would serve both as an enabler and a policy mechanism, critical for the realization of these employment goals.

The discussions also delved into practical strategies for engaging local service providers more effectively. Yves Tchiefji, General Manager of SEPCO Industries, outlined their approach, which includes a long-term vision for building national content, targeting specific high-value services for localization, and developing a robust contracting and partnership strategy. “Service quality will matter, regardless of the policy in place,” Tchiefji added, underscoring the importance of maintaining high standards while fostering local growth.

Challenges facing local suppliers, particularly in terms of liquidity and cost management, were highlighted by Illeana I Ferber, CEO and Founder of Colibri Business Development. She noted the pivotal role that International Oil Companies (IOCs) could play in supporting local businesses through flexible payment terms and improving access to opportunities.

As Namibia edges closer to the development phase following recent offshore hydrocarbon discoveries, the importance of partnerships between local and international firms has become increasingly apparent. These collaborations are seen as essential for transferring knowledge, skills, and technology, ensuring that projects not only remain economically viable but also adhere to the stringent global standards required in the offshore oil and gas industry.

Olivier Benyessaad, Vice President of Business Development EMEA for Doris Group, shared insights into the collaborative dynamics with local engineering firms. “For engineering purposes, we team up with local capabilities to enhance both parties’ strengths,” he explained, noting the mutual benefits of such partnerships in bridging gaps between local knowledge and international expertise.

Furthermore, addressing broader challenges such as access to finance, technology, and skilled personnel, Joao David Tiago, Country Manager for Angola and Namibia at SLB, described their corporate strategy. “It’s part of our blueprint to recruit, hire, and develop local companies in each country where we operate, to bring benefits to local businesses and add value to the local economy,” Tiago emphasized.

The conference not only highlighted the critical role of policy and partnership in advancing Namibia’s energy sector but also set the stage for ongoing discussions about sustainable development. The insights shared by speakers underscored the collective effort required to harness the full potential of Namibia’s natural resources responsibly and equitably. As the conference continues, participants remain focused on identifying actionable strategies that will not only benefit the energy sector but also contribute significantly to the nation’s overall economic prosperity.

Source: Energy Capital & Power

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