African opportunities for ME investors

US$132 trillion of untapped reserves presents risk and rewards.
Apapa Port, Lagos, Nigeria.
Apapa Port, Lagos, Nigeria.


The Middle East Workboats & Offshore Marine 2013 will highlight investment opportunities in Africa during its biannual exhibition and conference, which takes place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from September 30-October 2.

The day one special regional power hour session on ‘Operational Excellence in Africa – Getting it Right’, will look at the pros and cons of the continent’s investment potential from the impact of local content legislation and shortages of skilled labour, to the financial implications of non-compliance and all-pervasive security risks for both personnel and commercial viability.

“According to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) June 2013 ‘Africa Oil & Gas Review’ Africa currently supplies around 12% of the world’s oil, and sits on an estimated US$132 trillion of untapped reserves, as well as 7% of global natural gas reserves,” said Chris Hayman of the Middle East Workboats & Offshore Marine 2013.

“From Ghana to Sierra Leone, foreign direct investment interest looking to access the frontier markets of Africa must consider a raft of issues from political uncertainties to the shifting legal landscape.”

Chaired by Knut Mathiassen, regional head shipping finance Middle East & Africa, Standard Chartered Bank, a panel of experienced African businessmen, regulators, operators, financiers and investors will discuss these and other key concerns, with the speaker line-up including Ify Anazonwu-Akerele, director general, Nigerian Chamber of Shipping; Ian Hugo, managing director Nigeria, Smit Lamnalco; Ernest Nwapa, executive secretary, Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board; Greg Ogbeifun, chairman and CEO, Starzs Investments Company Limited; and Tim Stear, global head of maritime security, Control Risks.

PwC also puts potential industry investment through foreign direct interest for the continent at US$30 billion per annum with equity the preferred option due to its relative accessibility, and primarily targeting the Exploration & Production (E&P) sector.

The PwC report flags the trend for direct investment in Africa by African-based companies as local businesses and foreign national oil companies expand their portfolios and risk across the region, creating a new breed of independents presence alongside established multinationals.

A number of Middle East oil companies are already seizing frontier market opportunities with Qatar Petroleum International (QPI) and Total SE entering into an agreement earlier this year that would give QPI a 15% share capital increase in Total E&P Congo as part of long term plans to expand its presence in Africa.

“The offshore support vessel market is also proving attractive to new local entrants attracted by the new Local Content Act requirements, investing in suitable vessels for deeper water and reaping the benefits of rapid growth in West Africa” said Mathiassen.

In its World Deepwater Market Forecast 2013-17, research firm Douglas-Westwood is forecasting global capital expenditure of more than US$223 billon, twice the spend of the previous five years, with long-term opportunity in Africa largely concentrated in Angola, Ghana and Nigeria.

This year’s event line-up also includes the inaugural Global Workboats Technology Forum, in strategic partnership with Saudi Aramco, on October 1 during which international experts will present a series of technical papers on industry agenda-leading topics, with Dynamic Positioning (DP) capability and systems development dominating the final day’s debate on October 2.

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