Energy Industry Should Consider Women Not To Fill A Quota But Because They Are Capable, Says ReconEnergy’s Mwanyengwa

Following five major oil and gas discoveries made between 2022 and 2023, Namibia's upstream market has seen a strong wave of interest by global E&P players.

Companies such as ReconAfrica, a Canadian-based explorer, have amplified their exploration efforts. The company's Director of Communication and Stakeholder Relations Mwanyengwa Ndapewoshali Shapwanale plays an integral part in driving both ReconAfrica and Namibia's energy narrative, serving as an inspiration for those in the field.

Shapwanale is featured on the African Energy Chamber's (AEC) list of 25 Under 40 Energy Women Rising Stars. 

Please share a brief overview of your journey in the energy industry that led to your current role? What are some key achievements or milestones that you are particularly proud of? 

My journey in the energy sector started in April 2021 when I was approached to provide multimedia consulting, specifically social media services to my current employer ReconAfrica.

I immediately realized I could provide much more to the company and engaged the company representative at the time to propose my additional skills and how I could assist the company.

This included media relations, corporate communication, government relations, community relations, and brand crisis management.

Fast forward a few months, I was appointed as the Director of Communication and Stakeholder Relations. A major part of my role is ensuring and maintaining social license.

I am particularly proud of the work our team has done in community relations. While maintaining a social license is an ongoing and continuous exercise, I am pleased with the work we have put in as a team, and I will continue to work towards progressing this responsibility.

Another proud achievement must be our work towards providing safe and secure access to potable water to the communities in our area of operations through the drilling, installing, and handing over of community water wells in our three years of operation.

Apart from the communities, especially women and children, having to walk long distances to fetch water, this is an area where human-wildlife conflict is rampant because of the communities' dependency on the Kavango River for water.

Being able to provide an alternative water source, I believe, contributes to saving lives and meeting the government halfway in their aims to alleviate and even totally eradicate the human-wildlife conflict. 

Further, the Namibian nation is quite new to the oil and gas industry, as the past few years have been the most visible action we have seen in the country.

For the nation and the average Joe on the street to understand, welcome, and meaningfully participate in oil and gas activities, there must be efforts to educate and inform about the industry and the energy sector at large.

As part of my communication role, we have done training with the media so that they can report from an educated, understanding, and informed position.

We have also collaborated with the University of Science and Technology to host bi-monthly public lectures on oil and gas activities in the country.

These sessions have been extremely successful, with an audience of over 600 in person and a maximum of 900+ online. The audience included students, professionals from all fraternities, diplomats, academics, and government officials.

The speakers included the Minister of Mines and Energy in Namibia, the Petroleum Commissioner, lawmakers, geologists, and educators, to name a few.

Lastly, I am pleased to have teamed up with exceptional fellow women in the industry to establish the first ever Women in Oil, Gas, and Energy Association in Namibia, a body aimed at achieving the advancement of women in the energy sector.

Energy poverty is an African reality, and Namibia is not singled out from this reality. Further to that, my area of operation is one of the most socially challenged in our country, and I have started and will continue to use my role to innovatively tackle these challenges to ensure that my country and our continent as a whole benefit from its resources.

The energy industry is known for its complexities. What were some significant challenges you faced along the way, and how did you navigate through them to achieve your goals?

It definitely has to be the onslaught that accompanies the frowning upon of oil and gas exploration and development of this resource by African countries and the public's perception of oil and gas exploration and development.

I was very lucky to, very early in my career, listen to the AEC chairperson speak on the just transition as well as really grasp the concept of African solutions for African challenges.

This helped me focus on the matter at hand, which is to ensure that I carry out my role without listening to the unwarranted attacks.

Adopting the just transition and African solutions for African challenges has also helped me stay focused on the bigger responsibility, which is to ensure meaningful, impactful, and tangible contributions to eradicating energy poverty in Namibia and the continent, meaningful participation in the sector, and meaningful benefit from the energy sector.

What advice would you give to young females aspiring to excel in the energy sector? Are there any specific strategies or mindsets that helped you overcome obstacles and reach your current position?

Humility, listening to those who have been in the sector, put in the work, collaboration and willingness to learn learn learn!

I was very privileged to have been welcomed into the sector with open arms by so many, including the leadership in our oil and gas sector in the country.

I specifically want to highlight the women including Maggy Shino, Victoria Sibeya, MME Dep Minister Kornelia Shilunga, and Taimi Itembu, to name a few. Leadership in my company is the true definition of meaningfully giving a young black woman a seat at the table and supporting her in the role.

It is important to note that it is not enough to be given a seat at the table; the work has to continue to maintain that seat at the table. To be considered at the table should not be to satisfy a quota but because one is capable of excelling, achieving, and delivering.

A career in energy can be demanding. Could you describe a typical day in your life?

Demanding indeed! I am typically up by 05:30 and start my day with reflection, praise, worship, or prayer—not every day as I would like to.

Because our team works in different time zones, I use my mornings to attend to emails that may have come through in the night. Having planned my to-do list the night before, I start executing my items for the day.

My role involves a lot of writing; therefore, I am constantly writing or preparing messages. Our meetings normally take place in the late afternoon or early evening. I work well at night and therefore choose to action some of the deliverables right after our meetings, in the evening.

With stakeholder relations, I am also constantly working on monitoring our relations and finding ways to maintain or improve them. One must be innovative. A lot of moving pieces, all the time.

The last two hours of my work day are dedicated to upskilling. I try as much as possible to take short courses to assist me in carrying out my role.

Looking ahead, what changes or advancements do you hope to see in the energy sector, and how do you envision your role in shaping that future?

Meaningful participation in the energy sector, advancement of women in the energy sector, community understanding, being informed and educated about the energy sector, meaningfully benefiting from the sector, and overall.

I truly believe that local content and meaningful participation in the energy sector needs to start with an understanding and education of the sector. An example is understanding that there are certain skills and capital capabilities we do not have and how we are going to work with operators to achieve our goals in combating energy poverty and social challenges throughout the energy sector.

I believe that I can use my role as a vehicle to educate the Namibian nation on the energy sector for the purpose of meaningful participation.

Additionally, being on the ground and understanding the social challenges means using my role as a vehicle to be innovative in tackling these challenges and ensuring meaningful impact.

As a female executive in the energy sector, it is my duty to show other women that it is possible to be in the energy sector meaningfully.

At the same time, I have the very important duty to show and prove that women in the sector are capable, deliver, and have the skills to contribute to the sector.

Moreover, women should not, are not, and don't just want to be considered because we are women and that we can fill a quota, but that we have capacity, put in the work, have the skills, are capable, and deliver.

Global Rights Alerts Using Directory To Address Disputes In Oil Host Communities

In December 2022, Global Rights Alert (GRA), a Non-Governmental Organization that aims to make natural resources benefit Ugandans, launched the Community Monitoring Directory.

According to GRA, the directory is a simple guide to handling community issues, especially in the Oil & Gas host communities.

In this brief interview, Lydia Ainomugisha, the Communications Manager at GRA, explains how the directory is addressing disputes arising in the Oil and Gas host communities. 

Your organization recently launched a community directory, what exactly is it all about?

The Global Rights Alert Community Monitoring Directory is a referral pathway that was developed by GRA to help people report issues in their communities through the right channels.

Prior to developing this tool, we realized that some issues are never resolved because they are reported to the wrong people, and sometimes at the wrong time.

For instance, imagine if you report a defilement case to the area LC1, it will stall, and later fail; by the time you remember to report to police, evidence would already be destroyed.

How does this directory work and how do you implement it as GRA?

The directory works in such a way that when an issue is reported, the victim will be advised on the right office to report his or her case. For example, the first step to reporting a land case is the area LC I chairperson.

Who does the directory capture?

For now, the directory is capturing issues that mainly affect people in oil-host communities. Many of these issues arise from activities of the sector such as compensation.

What does GRA want to achieve with directory?

GRA’s core mandate is to make natural resources benefit people. With the directory in place, we have established structures within our communities to help people solve issues at cheaper and easier manner.

The community directory seeks to provide different actors with the necessary information.

Lessons from our community monitoring system provide us with evidence that timely communication and the right referrals are key to solving daily challenges and mitigating human rights violations.


How New Life Schools Buwaidha Is Planning To Uplift Education In Buyende District

Buyende district remains one of the most impoverished districts in Uganda and it is even more appalling when it comes to education, skills training and transfer and knowledge acquisition.

The district on the shores of Lake Kyoga largely relies on government schools are often ill-equipped to the constraints government faces when funding schools across the country.


Eng Isabirye Gerald is the executive director of New Life Schools Buwaidha

In this interview, Eng Isabirye Gerald, as the executive director, talks about the plans they are laying a plan to transform the education sector in Buyende district through New Life Schools Buwaidha.

Background of the New Life Schools Buwaidha  

New Life Schools Buwaidha is a community school located in a village called Buwaidha found in Buyende district, Busoga sub-region. The multipurpose school seeks to provide quality education to vulnerable children in a dignifying environment. The vision of New Life Schools Buwaidha is to train a generation of Godly leaders who will serve nations.

We believe opening a school in the Buwaidha area is imperative to the well-being of the children not only in their education but in developing them psychologically, emotionally and socially and giving them a chance to experience life as a normal child should. 


New Life Schools Buwaidha is bringing new education facilities and equipment like smartboards to Buyende district

The objectives are quite many, and our vision puts the entire community at the centre. For example, we want children in Buwaidha and neighbouring communities to reach their full potential by providing them with a good education. 

We want to start community-based projects that we hope will provide jobs to people in the community and keep families together as the school is a local amenity. 

Targeted achievements

New Life Schools Buwaidha wants every child to have an opportunity to attain quality formal education to break the cycles of illiteracy and poverty that have been for so long defined this area.  

This is what we want to achieve. We want to support vulnerable and underprivileged children living in Buwaidha village and the surrounding areas with easy access to quality education.

Education model  

At New Life Schools Buwaidha, we use the Ugandan curriculum. We will teach everything that as required by the government. Our students will take the required tests to be able to graduate like the rest of the country. 

The difference with New Life Schools is that we teach the same information but in a different way. Instead of teaching only how to memorize to pass tests and exams, we teach our students critical thinking. 

The plan is to start with the launch of the Kindergarten in January 2023. Once the Kindergarten school is open, a year later, we will build the Primary division and High School. 

The school will have a Recreational Center, Teachers' Housing and a Medical Centre. The school will also provide community-based projects and training programs outside of school hours. 

Planned Kyabazinga launch  

First, it is always a pleasure and prestigious when the Kyabazinga graces such a function. We expect the Kyabazinga to come with a high delegation from the kingdom. Also, we hope that the Kyabazinga will come with a message of hope to inspire his subject. There is always something to learn from the Kyabazinga.

New Life Schools is working with Obwa Kyabazinga Bwa Busoga. And to launch the project, the Kyabazinga of Busoga, His Majesty William Wilberforce Gabula Nadiope IV, will on 28th January 2023 preside over the launch of the kindergarten section and break the ground for the construction of the upper sections – primary and secondary sections. 

Here Is Why Fresh Dairy Long Life UHT Milk Lasts 90 Days Without Refrigeration

In these tough economic times, you would want to get the best out of every purchase you make especially if it is a consumable like milk which by nature is delicate. When you stock milk in the house, you want it to last for as long as you still haven’t consumed it.

In this interview, Vincent Omoth, the Marketing Manager of Fresh Dairy, explains why Fresh Dairy Long Life UHT Milk Lasts 90 Days Without Refrigeration. 

Fresh Dairy has recently unveiled a new campaign – Milkygoodness. Tell us what the campaign is all about.

Milkygoodness is a new campaign through which Fresh Dairy has heightened communication for its Fresh Dairy Longlife milk which has an Extended Shelf Life of 90 days.


Why does Fresh Dairy Longlife UHT milk last 90-days?

Fresh Dairy has invested in state-of-the-art equipment which ensures sterility throughout the entire process of producing Fresh Dairy Long life milk.  The process of making Fresh Dairy Longlife milk involves pasteurization of milk, ensuring a closed processing system and usage of food grade high quality packaging material. 

  • Pasteurization means that Fresh Dairy Longlife milk is free of organisms that could grow and contribute to quality deterioration.
  • The sterile closed-system production process safeguards the product quality.
  • The high quality packaging is done in a sterile environment and packed in a manner that not even air can pass through hence ensuring the 90-day shelf life. 

What makes Fresh Dairy Long Life UHT milk unique?

Fresh Dairy Long life milk continues to be popular for its 90-day shelf life, the convenience/shopper experience that it offers, no need to refrigerate and having two pack options: 500ML pack carton of 12 pieces and 200ML pack carton of 21 pieces. 

It offers convenience to consumers because for 3 months, one can stock up a carton or more and not worry about back and forth trips to the shops, or even be caught up in the morning and evening rush time. This implies that even families that don’t own fridges can still feel comfortable buying and stocking up Fresh Dairy’s Long life UHT milk (ESL: Extended Shelf Life) in their homes. 

Further still, the Fresh Dairy Long Life UHT milk is renowned for its unique fresh taste of milk, it’s a ready-to-drink, has culinary benefits such as being an ingredient for Tea, Coffee, add into cereals and porridge, mandazi’s, chapattis, cakes among others. It is also full cream and nutrient rich with Energy, Carbohydrates, Protein, Fat and Calcium among others, crucial to support the body with essential nutrition. 

How has Fresh Dairy ensured that the Ugandan farmers benefit from this new campaign?

At Fresh Dairy, we work with over 30,000 small and large scale dairy farmers, from whom we source the milk we use in our products every day, which makes the newly rebranded Fresh Dairy Long Life UHT milk 100% Ugandan.

The income that the farmers earns from the milk supplied to Fresh Dairy supports in improving their respective families’ livelihoods. With heightened sales anticipated from the Milkygoodness Fresh Dairy Longlife UHT milk campaign, farmers will benefit even more because of increased milk demand. 

How are you ensuring that the Fresh Dairy Long life UHT milk pack is readily available?

We are working with our countrywide extensive network of distributors, agents and retailers to ensure that our consumers can access Fresh Dairy’s Long life milk (ESL: Extended Shelf Life) pack countrywide in Shops, Duukas, Supermarkets, Kiosks and Tricycle agents.  Consumers are also encouraged to place home delivery orders Monday to Saturday, 8am to 5pm by simply calling customer care toll free on 0800100020/21 or WhatsApp 0715744664.




Ensuring Future Generations Benefit from Africa’s Oil & Gas Resources, An Interview With CEO Of Panoro Energy

While Africa looks to accelerate the development of its significant oil and gas resources – particularly as the continent struggles with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and energy poverty crisis – significant investment is needed in the upstream and midstream sectors.

Rather than abandon fossil fuels in the name of the energy transition, Africa needs to ramp up exploration in order to revitalize production and ensure energy security.

The African Energy Chamber spoke to John Hamilton, CEO Panoro Energy, about the reasons Africa's production is declining, what can be done to turn this around, and the role gas monetization and development will play in the continent's energy future.

What will this production underperformance in Nigeria, Libya, Angola, Congo, Equatorial Guinea and African countries mean for the continent as a whole?

Production underperformance is not necessarily a term I would use. Generally, reservoir performance and well productivity has met or frequently exceeded expectations which is a reflection of the high-quality petroleum geology much of the continent is blessed with. The underlying issue is more about investment and development activity not offsetting a natural depletion curve and the risk of substantial oil volumes being left stranded in the ground as the global energy transition plays out, potentially depriving future generations of the benefit these resources can deliver.

What it means for the continent, and more specifically the producing countries, really starts with how it emphasises a present lack of economic diversification and high dependency of governments on oil production for revenues and more specifically foreign currency.  Economic diversification is going to be key for the oil dependent economies in Africa. Accelerating the safe and responsible development of current production together with the considerable discovered but undeveloped oil resources and future discoveries from exploration efforts will help provide the means for these economies to grow and diversify for long term prosperity and better balance.

What do you feel are the primary reasons influencing production decline in Africa?

The majority of assets are still held by large companies with intense competition for capital across global portfolios. A pivot towards global gas and alternative energy solutions, with added pressure from shareholders and providers of capital to accelerate decarbonisation strategies, means that a diminishing number of upstream assets secure growth investment capital each year. This means that on a fundamental level, assets that will not attract growth capital under current ownership need to transfer into the hands of companies that will prioritise fresh investment to maximise economic recovery and grow output.

Access to capital is also a major factor. This affects the industry as a whole globally, with banks and equity investors having been reluctant to fund hydrocarbon projects over the past few years. For Africa specifically, this global trend is felt perhaps more acutely given that financing is even more scarce.

What can be done to turn this around?

It is encouraging that in several instances fiscal terms are being implemented specifically to allow commercialisation of smaller (marginal) fields that may have been sub economic under previous terms. However, this needs to be applied alongside a more rigorous "use it or lose it" policy to prevent incumbent asset owners holding assets with little or no prospect of developing them. License renewal events should also be seen as an opportunity to assess and if necessary, adapt fiscal terms to help ensure mature brownfield developments are not overlooked and field-life can be extended where possible and economic recovery maximised.

On access to financing, this is an issue that all stakeholders need to continue to make efforts to promote the importance of energy investment on the continent. Success stories need to be heard. All encouragement should be given to governments and international companies to promote responsible and sustainable projects that benefit both energy security imperatives and the need for a return on capital. 

What would you recommend as an industry approach to low carbon gas monetisation and financing in Africa?

Its less about an industry approach – but instead a unified and aligned approach between all stakeholders. It is most obvious that there is no shortage of gas in the ground, but to develop the upstream source there has to be a midstream business to receive and process the gas, a pipeline network to transport the gas to customers, bankable GSA's in place with power and industrial users with sufficient reliable demand, a pricing structure that supports the gas value chain, currency convertibility where tariffs are not paid in USD and ultimately a paying customer base for the end products be it domestic power supply or manufacturing output. Wrapped around this is access to capital – both from domestic and international capital markets – and development of clear policies and incentives by host governments to attract the required investment and development.

Gas development is the abundant and logical transition fuel for African economies to address energy poverty and benefit from the multiplier effect that access to reliable power yields.

What should new independents consider while entering a changing African energy sector?

Speaking from an international E&P perspective it is an immersive industry and you have to commit to being a physical presence in your chosen market.  Developing the relationships in country with host governments, regulators, partners, service providers and a multitude of other stakeholders is equally as important as identifying an asset.  You can not work in Africa remotely.

Is it time for Model Gas/LNG Production Sharing Agreement?

It is not uncommon for gas resources to sit outside current contract terms.  Where this is the case the agreement of gas terms would certainly facilitate acceleration of development in some cases. Projects and markets vary greatly so a "one size fits all" model agreement is probably not the solution. It links into the earlier comment about a unified approach between all stakeholders – contract terms being a key element of that.

Powering African Countries With Domestic Gas Is Advantageous Than Importing Liquefied Natural Gas

The African Energy Chamber spoke to Impact Oil & Gas CEO, Siraj Ahmed, about increasing oil production across the African continent, low carbon gas monetization and pending deals that should be concluded at the upcoming African Energy Week, taking place in Cape Town on 18-21 October

Despite being blessed with abundant oil and gas resources, Africa's production has been on the decline, representing a challenge for the continent as it moves to initiate a COVID-19 economic recovery and address energy poverty.

With exploration restricted due to reduced capital for fossil fuel projects and the transition away from hydrocarbons, the continent needs to act now if it is to reap the benefits of its oil and gas resources.

What will this production underperformance in Nigeria, Libya, Angola, The Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and African countries mean for the continent as a whole?

These countries are heavily dependent on the export of oil and natural gas, so production underperformance will inevitably have an impact on their economies, both in terms of access to cheap energy and revenues into the treasury. This in turn could have a destabilizing effect on these countries. Temporary underperformance can, however, be managed, but persistent underperformance would be far more damaging, holding back development and the ability of these countries to invest in the energy transition.

In modern society, technology drives progress, but technology requires power – whether a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or other gadget designed to make life easier. Nations that fail to invest in energy will be left behind and will lack the economic growth to fund development. This is an issue for health and social care, progress in living standards and access to opportunities.

In the short term, reduction in supply means higher oil prices, which leads to higher inflation and higher inflation hits the poorest the hardest. These countries have the means and ability to turn this around, so the underperformance need only be temporary.

What do you feel are the primary reasons influencing production decline in Africa? What can be done to turn this around?

Leaving aside the recent impact of COVID, global issues such as the energy transition, compounded by important country-specific issues, are driving a decline in production. At the heart of the challenge is a lack of investment in exploration and the question of what countries must do to attract this investment.

The pool of both equity and debt capital for oil and gas projects is on the decline, largely (but not exclusively) due to pressure to meet the energy transition. With an ever-decreasing supply of global capital for such projects, funders can be selective about where capital is invested and, therefore, competition is stiff and the threshold to secure it is high.

Countries in Africa must provide a stable and competitive framework for investment. This applies not only to countries with existing production, where infrastructure-led exploration (ILEX) can provide lower risk additional resources, but also to counties with frontier exploration potential. It is these higher risk, but higher resource, new frontiers with the opportunity to make large scale economic impact, that have the greatest challenges to attract capital.

A stable and competitive framework for investment requires policy certainty; transparent decision- making processes that enable projects to be progressed quickly (pace is intrinsically linked to value); competitive and stable fiscal terms; and a stable legal framework. Often Governments are too quick to tighten fiscal terms immediately after early discoveries, thereby introducing significant hurdles for subsequent exploration. Fiscal terms and the opportunity to participate in new licensing rounds must remain competitive to attract risked capital.

Norway has been producing oil since the 70s. It recently announced the award of 53 new licenses, of which Equinor picked up interests in 26 blocks, and announced that it plans to drill 25 exploration wells during 2022. By comparison, South Africa, where Impact has a large footprint, has only seen two exploration wells during the last 10 years. Norway operates a model that enables and incentivises exploration, which has put Norway in the top 15 oil producers globally and allowed it to create a sovereign wealth fund worth over a trillion dollars.

Much of Africa's production is in shallower waters and is rapidly maturing. Declining production requires investment in exploration. It is important, therefore, to incentivise frontier exploration alongside ILEX opportunities, and maintain a suitable fiscal framework. A one size-fits-all fiscal framework will limit exploration to smaller, near field exploration opportunities.

The demand for energy is only growing, whilst there is a rapid and concurrent reduction in investment in exploration and production. This reality, and the consequences of it, are reflected in current global oil and gas prices and the apparent economic and geopolitical turmoil it is causing. It is unlikely that the demand trend will reverse soon, so Africa should invest to reverse its growing production shortfall.

What would you recommend as an industry approach to low carbon gas monetisation and financing in Africa?

Natural gas is a relatively low carbon energy source when compared to oil or coal, therefore it is an obvious transition fuel that could meet the energy needs of Africa from its own resources. However, this must be done quickly since the transition period is not indefinite.

Powering African countries through the use of domestic gas has a number of advantages: importing LNG and/or oil has a much higher carbon footprint than utilizing domestic gas; it enables a just transition away from coal in countries such as South Africa where 80% of its electricity is generated from coal; and it provides a cleaner alternative to firewood and charcoal, used by more than 60 percent of families in sub-Saharan Africa for meal preparation and to meet other energy needs, due to the absence of affordable alternatives. This is damaging to health and a significant contributor to forest degradation.

Natural gas should form part of a wider energy mix that embraces other low carbon energy sources. The role of the oil and gas industry in Africa can and should be broader than exploration and development of oil and gas resources. We are increasingly seeing agreements between Governments and IOCs to collaborate on investment in a multi-energy strategy that supports development of renewable projects alongside major oil and gas projects.

For example, as part of the recent Final Investment Decision for the Uganda-Tanzania crude oil pipeline, the Kingfisher and Tilenga oil projects in the Lake Albert region of Uganda and TotalEnergies signed a deal to explore opportunities to develop renewable energy projects. Initiatives such as this bring expertise as well as finance to the continent.

What should new independents consider while entering a changing African energy sector?

Africa has historically provided great opportunities for independents. Indeed, it has benefitted from their nimble and aggressive strategies and their ability to raise capital for higher risk, early entry projects. Companies such as Kosmos, Tullow, Ophir, Cove and Far (for example) have been at the forefront of major, play-opening discoveries in Senegal, Mauritania, Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania, leading the way for majors in frontier opportunities.

The role of independents in the sector is changing, however. The new Africa focused independents are chasing production (ILEX, mature and marginal fields), but the billion-barrel, play-opening exploration opportunities remain in frontier, high risk areas.

Although there is no longer the space for standalone explorers to build greenfield exploration portfolios - there is neither the time nor the capital to support such strategies - independents can still play an important role in accelerating growth in countries with play-opening discoveries, by pushing out the play- to the riskier limits.

What pending deals do you believe should be completed and announced at African Energy Week in Cape Town

  • News around the development of the Block 11b/12b gas discoveries and how this might fit into the South African plans for its strategic energy mix.
  • The finalization of South Africa's Upstream Petroleum Development Bill.

Impact is a pure exploration company with a strategic focus on large scale, mid to deep water plays of sufficient size to be of interest to major companies. Impact currently invest in African Oil and Gas blocks including Namibia, South Africa and the AGC Profond block in Guinea Bissau and Senegal.

Inability To Provide Safe Working Environment Failing Energy Investments In Africa, Says Panoro Energy's Advisor Tim O'Hanlon

With production declines presenting newfound challenges for Africa, stakeholders are pushing for enhanced exploration to help mitigate this trend. Despite global calls to transition to renewable energy sources, Africa still needs its oil and gas reserves if it is to meet its development goals and make energy poverty history by 2030.

In an exclusive interview with the African Energy Chamber, Tim O'Hanlon, Senior Advisor for the Oslo-listed energy and power company, Panoro Energy, provides critical insight into Africa's changing energy sector.

What will this production underperformance in Nigeria, Libya, Angola, Congo, Equatorial Guinea and African countries mean for the continent as a whole?

For the individual countries involved it is definitely a significant setback and a direct blow to their economies since they have probably been too slow at diversifying away from oil and gas and investing the windfall resource revenues of the last decades into more sustainable sectors like agriculture, industry and services. But for the majority of Africa's 54 countries with little or no production, I honestly don't see much impact, one way or the other. 

What do you feel are the primary reasons influencing production decline in Africa?

Oil production is falling across the Continent for a number of reasons but mainly due to lack of exploration for new reserves to maintain production profiles, a lack of investment in existing fields and civil strife. The last point is easiest to understand.

The required investment – which normally flows in from outside the Continent - quickly dries up when Governments are unable to provide a secure and safe working environment. Thereafter, frontier exploration spending is always discretionary for IOCs and is the first to be cut when oil prices collapse as they did in 2014.

Even today, with the oil price still below 2014 levels, IOCs are facing an overnight and extreme (I would say often hysterical) pressure, mainly from "sorted" Western society, to halt all future exploration, particularly for oil. For the same reason, even some mature producing African projects are being starved by their IOC operators of the capital required to maintain or improve production - normal good housekeeping if you like.

Tranches of mature producing assets are becoming available as the industry consolidates and as certain IOCs even recede from the Continent altogether. This exodus is sadly accelerated by certain African Governments being a bit slow to react to these market forces by easing fiscal terms as they should in response to the deteriorating investment climate for IOCs.

What can be done to turn this around?

All is not lost. Firstly, it is very encouraging to see some of the Majors – notably TotalEnergies and ENI – holding their nerve and sticking with the Mother Continent notwithstanding the background noise. While they are understandably shedding certain non-core mature producing African fields, they are also still drilling the occasional frontier wildcats and it is paying off.

ENI has just had a whopper of an oil discovery in Ivory Coast, TE a major gas discovery in SA and both continue to invest in the massive projects up the East African coast from Mozambique to Uganda to Egypt.

And good luck to them I say. Secondly, the existing crop of experienced Africa-focused E&P players (Perenco, Trident, Panoro, Tullow, Assala...) together with their African brothers (Seplat, Oando, XXXXX, YYYYY...) are being joined by an emerging group of impressive start-ups (Baobab Energy Africa, Boru Energy, Afentra and others) ready and able to replace any exiting Majors and inject new life into mature assets. With the right fiscal incentives, these NewCos will extend into exploration and add the desperately needed new barrels to the African pot.

What would you recommend as an industry approach to low carbon gas monetization and financing in Africa?

It would probably be futile to try craft an industry-wide approach here. Our African E&P industry is adept at dealing with challenges, whether from Mother Nature or the societies they serve. Ever pragmatic, commercially driven and science-based, both large and small IOCs are already quietly embracing the Energy Transition imposed upon them by Climate Change.

Gas is fast becoming the new oil for explorers and its monetization less of a headache than it was before. When we started Tullow back in 1986 our first project was, by chance, gas for power generation in Senegal. But this was the exception back then when a gas discovery could get a geologist fired being akin to a dry hole in the pursuit of oil.

It is all change now with many of Africa's then "stranded gas reserves" on production today serving domestic power needs or the international LNG market. Once nearly impossible to finance, gas developments are now much more bankable and even dedicated gas exploration is being given the green light by shareholders.

The morally bankrupt notion that tiny-carbon-footprint Africa should leave its enormous gas reserves undeveloped and "stay poor" while Europe remains plugged right in to existing African gas production has been given short shrift by Africans.

What should new independents consider while entering a changing African energy sector?

While on the one hand it seems like all change these days, on the other hand nothing much has changed for any independent entering the African energy sector. This is because presumably, as savvy actors, they will already know that change is just about the only constant in our game.

The new paradigms of "less oil please" or "more gas please" or "your project must be carbon-neutral" are just the latest set of problems to solve for what are at the end of the day professional problem solvers. They will already by technically top-drawer, risk-tolerant and alert to the sometimes extreme above and below-ground challenges but still excited by the immense rewards available in Africa for the tenacious.

And I don't just mean shareholder returns here but the type of satisfaction derived from being able to add sometimes billions of dollars to the economies of developing African nations by just doing you day job to the best of your abilities - just as we did at Tullow back in the day...

Is it time for Model Gas/LNG Production Sharing Agreement?

I am not aware of any gas projects lying idle and undeveloped across Africa due to the absence of standardized Gas PSAs or similar. Gas monetization has always been more complex than oil. Even small quantities of gas can be worth a fortune if you find some close to a hungry gas grid or near worthless if found in a remote area even in large quantities. On the other hand, oil fetches much the same price in Chad, Chile or China! But this additional complexity in financing gas development projects is an equal burden for both the host Government and the gas-finder IOC.

It is always just about finding the equitable balance of risk and reward for these actors who are well-used to thrashing out such agreements. If it is not happening it often simply means the host Government has an inflated opinion of the value of their gas project and the lazy capital has simply flowed elsewhere.

An Unintended Effect Of Covid-19 Pandemic To Employee Mental Wellness

In these times of the COVID-19, organisations should provide support for employees as a routine aspect of their operation, advises Arjun Mallik, MD Prudential East Africa. He adds that if staff members are cared for, the wider community is strengthened.

Mallik says that COVID-19 and its resultant ebbing lockdown periods have been a stressful time for people all over the world including in Africa therefore emotional wellness of people should be at the forefront of most companies’ plans.

While businesses are grappling with how to sustain themselves, they should simultaneously be taking care of their employees. For Mallik and Prudential, they have rolled out simple initiatives to address mental health among employees.

Below are excerpts of an interview in which Mallik explains what they are doing at Prudential East Africa to avert COVID-199 induced mental health issues.

What key learning lessons has Prudential Africa attained as a result of operating in the COVID - 19 pandemic?

Collective trauma as a result of COVID-19 happened at a societal level while making individuals more inward-looking. Our employees in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda are experiencing heightened trepidation due to everyday uncertainties, less interaction with colleagues and concerns for family safety. Inevitably, employee pressure equals business pressure.

We find that it requires more mindful work within our workplace to balance business objectives and life’s normal needs and responsibilities.

With 60% of its population under the age of 25, Africa is the youngest continent. The continent continues to offer businesses the best prospects for future growth. Human capital is a vital prerequisite for capitalising on opportunities ahead. 

To fully unlock the potential of the vast human resources available it is paramount that each individual is provided with an atmosphere to develop, maintain and grow their mental wellness, which has taken a knock during the pandemic.

Our experience shows that for employees to reach their potential, to contribute meaningfully and to create value in a workplace they must be in the right state of mind.

Shareholders and managers demand a lot from staff and excess stress of this kind leads to mental and physical break downs and sometimes burnout. If someone is anxious, stressed or depressed, they become less attentive and less productive and it sets back their growth potential. Awareness and acceptance of this stress is part of the key to the mental fitness of employees and should never be overlooked.

Although COVID has negatively impacted our lives, it has given people the confidence to admit that they need help and support and to recognise that mental wellness is a priority.

Moreover, at Prudential Africa we have realised that if we give our employees the opportunity to be heard and to heal emotionally, we create an atmosphere for them to bounce back quicker.

Prudential Africa, believes that the first step is to bring the conversation about mental wellness into the open – to acknowledge it, talk about it and, finally, in unison with staff, find solutions to improve. 

What has Prudential Africa invested in to support building staff emotional wellness? 

Prudential Africa has invested in a dedicated programme that ensures the following:  

  • Alleviates stress and builds tool and resources to help staff and managers recognise and act on emotional wellness issues.
  • Exhibit management commitment by providing holistic and sustainable solutions in order to foster a sense of community
  • Create a culture of openness for all staff to perform at their best.
  • Encourage all employees to be accommodating, to listen and to assist with the emotional issues their colleagues are facing.
  • Ensure that the programme transcends beyond the COVID pandemic.

What other tools has Prudential Africa inputted into the staff emotional wellness program to ensure its success?

  • Third party experts presenting on topics such as gratitude and how to balance work and play.
  • Provide staff with tools such as meditation techniques to handle stress.
  • Train managers to identify warning signs within their team or among colleagues - provide them with a toolkit to help them conduct a conversation around emotional wellness.
  • Introduce flexi hours which allow staff to do their work and remain in a safe environment – to be with their families and deliver at work.
  • Install a 24/7 confidential counselling line run by a professional third party for staff and their dependants.
  • Host more teambuilding activities that increase bonding among staff in and out of office to increase collaboration and to keep motivation high.

The ultimate message to staff should be – you are not alone – everyone has mental challenges in different ways and we are all in this together. You should be able to show up to work in the best possible form of yourself.


Kato Isa Explains Why He Is The Right Person To Be MP For Kampala Central

The National Resistance Movement (NRM), the largest and ruling political party in Uganda, is preparing for the 2021 general elections by electing persons to represent them in the national elections at different levels.

The concluded National Delegates Conference held at each of the district headquarters approved the endorsement of President Yoweri Museveni as national chairperson and presidential flag bearer. It elected members of Central Executive Committee.

Now the party is looking at selecting through the NRM party primaries individuals to contest in the general elections as Members of Parliament (MPs) and district local council leaders. MP slots are expected to be highly contested.

The ruling party will take no chances as it looks forward to retaining their majority representation in parliament. They cannot afford to lose even a single slot and for that matter, it will be looking at fronting the strongest candidate who then will battle contenders from other political parties or independents.

Kampala, the epicentre of Uganda’s politics, has some interesting races but being a predominantly an opposition stronghold, Kampala Central, a constituency that has never fallen in the hands of the opposition, has attracted some interesting young candidates at party level.

Poor Youth Coming For Nsereko’s Kampala Central

Kampala Central is occupied by Muhammad Nsereko, currently an independent but a known NRM person. In fact, he was an NRM candidate the first time he contested and won to become MP. He hasn’t expressed intent to reclaim his NRM cap preferring to remain independent.

In the party primaries race, Kampala Central has attracted Kato Isa, famously known for his activism with NRM Poor Youth, Cedric Babu Ndlima, the son Francis Babu and others who will be gunning to capture the blessings of the party.

In an interview with News Today Uganda, Kato Isa comes off as the winning formula that the party needs to reclaim the constituency from an unreliable NRM leaning independent Nsereko.

Kato, has been an active member of NRM right from the university days and at the village level. He resides in William village, Nakasero parish, Kampala.

"I was the general secretary Makerere University NRM Chapter.  When I came out, I concentrated on working and getting more education abroad. When I came back, in 2014, we started the NRM Poor Youth. We did a lot of activism. We were majoring in rooting for rule of law, fighting corruption and empowering the youth," he said.

Through activism under NRM Poor Youth, Kato and his colleagues caused reforms in the party and governments. To date, they are still active fighting corruption in government institutions like Bank of Uganda but they feel the time to upgrade from activism to policymaking is now hence his pursuit to become MP.  

"You know being an activist means that you have a cause and as NRM Poor Youth we had a cause and it doesn’t end at just that, being an activist.  Now we need to also influence decisions.

We have been pushing but there is somewhere where decisions are made, that is where I want to go, the parliament, and take these activism ideas there. We all know the powers that parliament has – everything has to be implemented, supervised and audited in parliament and that is where we need to go right now.”

I Am A Strong Candidate In A Strong Party

Kato is confident that NRM can retain Kampala Central because it is strong with majority voters. “I can give you an example. We have 136 villages and 90 per cent of the chairpersons of these villages are NRM. That gives us the leverage to feel in charge of the city,” he explains.

But with this support and base, Kato believes that the incumbent who enjoys the perks of the party in power has given the electorates a raw deal.

“He is just an MP who keeps in the media but on the ground, we feel that there has been a very big gap which he created within the leadership of Kampala who he should be working with because they are stakeholders.

In the ten years, he has been in parliament, he has never held village meetings to consult, even at parish level – we have 20 parishes – he has never held a meeting to consult. He has abandoned his electorates,”

Kato says he is a strong candidate compared to others and he has premised his manifesto on developing a city that doesn’t compromise its residents. This, he says, requires working together and consulting all stakeholders whose lives and survival are connected to the decisions made by the city leadership.

Boda Bodas, Markets And Education

For example, on the issue of boda boda operating in Kampala, Kato sees no reason why they should be chased out of the city but instead provided lanes in which they can operate without inconveniencing others.

"Why wouldn’t the city physical planners put up walkways and cycling lanes instead of chasing away people. The country is only planning for car drivers; so, I want to advocate for the construction of walkways.

We can work with the technical planning team at KCCA because the plans are there but have not been implemented.  Then we can have cycling lanes, these can give us a breather,”

By the look of things, we shouldn’t expect Kato to advocate for the chasing of boda boda riders out of the city anytime soon. The other key issue in Kampala is the fate of markets. He says that markets are catalysts of development and government should apply the method of zoning so that development is spread across the city and shared.

Kato’s other big ideas are the education sector where he wants to improve academic and sports performance; tourism is something where he wants to tap into by promoting tourist attraction sites in the city and the introduction of themed festivals.

What It Takes To Manage A Pan-African Energy Law Practice In 2020

At 35, Zion Adeoye is the youngest Managing Partner at an African multi-national law firm. Appointed in 2020 to head the Centurion Law Group, Zion embodies a new generation of African lawyers leading the continent into the transformations that will place Africa as the 21st century’s success story.

As he reflects on his professional journey so far, he shares his lessons to any young Africans in search of a meaningful legal career on the continent.

Called to the bar in 2011, Zion holds an LLB from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria and a BL from the Nigerian Law School. Having spent most of its early legal career in Nigeria working on cross-border energy transactions, he moved to South Africa in 2017 to take on the position of Senior Associate Attorney at Centurion, before being promoted to Managing Director this year.

“By my third year at the University of Ibadan, I knew what I wanted to do was specializing in Energy Law. In fact, I had an unconventional journey because I completed by NYSC programme at the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) before proceeding to Law School,” he recalls.

His early career in Nigeria would then take him to the Tax division of KPMG and eventually to top law firms in Nigeria such as Terra Cotta Legal, Olaniwun Ajayi LP and Templars, before moving in-house at the Transnational Energy/Bresson Power Group. Such experience has offered Zion a decade of expertise in energy, finance and taxation law, which has been the pillar of his success at the Centurion Law Group.

Swimming Against the Current: Beware of the Underdog

As a young Nigerian lawyer working for a pan-African energy law firm, Zion has been in the position of the underdog more than once in his career. “When you are a relatively young energy lawyer in Africa and practice law on a meaningful level, you get used to walking into a room and having people questioning your credibility,” he explains.

“This is especially true of the oil & gas industry where a lot of deals are still made outside the continent in big places like Paris, London or New York by lawyers who are twenty to thirty years older than you and very often educated in big international universities. I have quickly learned to trust my African education and experience gained from doing deals on the ground. Trusting your abilities is key if you want to make it in this industry.”

From his experience gained doing deals in Nigeria but also Zambia, Uganda or South Sudan, Zion believes that a practical mindset and local understanding is how African lawyers can make the difference in a very competitive industry. “Do not let your age or gender bring you down. At the end of the day, clients will be judging you on the quality of the work you do. Do not be afraid of being the underdog,” he says.

Leading in Unchartered Territory: the Challenges of a Changing Legal Profession

As the legal profession worldwide enters unchartered territory, it is in need of leaders who understand both the evolving needs of clients, but are also willing to adopt new technologies and innovate to make their practice more efficient.

With the launch of its new on-demand legal services platform, CenturionPlus, the Centurion Law Group is bringing to Africa a new legal approach to solving clients’ requirements on a need-basis. “CenturionPlus is an answer to clients’ demand for more flexibility in the delivery and billing of their legal requirements, but also responds to the increasing complexity of corporate and commercial transactions made in Africa,” explained Zion.

“Managing an African law firm in 2020 presents a lot of challenges, especially because our continent is growing so rapidly. You need to make sure your team stays ahead the curve and that your practice is constantly innovating to deliver on clients’ expectations. As a team leader, this requires you to build consensus and align your team around one vision and determination,” he added. 

Despite a challenging environment these past years, Centurion has remained ranked Band 1 law firm in its key jurisdictions such as Equatorial Guinea while its senior lawyers are constantly recognized for their contribution to the industry. At the end of 2019 for instance, Zion was recognized as an ESQ 40 under 40 Lawyer at the Nigerian Rising Stars Award.

Adapting to Change: Managing Multi-Cultural Relations with Clients and in the Workplace

Often described as one entity, Africa is one of the most culturally-diverse continent on the planet. Its 54 countries speak hundreds of languages, have their own particular legal regimes, and are at different stages of economic growth. Growing a pan-African practice requires a deep understanding of social and cultural nuances across Africa, which many executives often under-estimate.

“The oil sector is one of the most internationalized industries so by nature you will be dealing with clients from all over the world willing to invest and do business in African jurisdictions that can be very different from one another,” declared Zion. “Do not make the mistake of thinking that because you have done a deal in Ethiopia, you can do the same deal easily in Ghana. Similarly, having as a client a major American oil company is not the same as working on a transaction for a major Chinese oil company. I have seen many law firms and lawyers making these costly mistakes,” he added.

To address this issue, Centurion has kept regionalizing over the years and currently has offices in Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa, Mauritius and Germany. It has also diversified its lawyers and attorneys, who currently come from over 10 countries and notably speak English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

“If you want to be successful at managing your law firm, you need a multi-cultural mindset and an understanding that people from different countries and background do business differently and communicate differently,” declared Zion.

“I always found that my legal background has been useful in this regard. As lawyers we are used to finding the right balance between technical, financial, commercial and legal aspects of a transaction. Managing your team takes the same approach of arranging different pieces together to attain a common goal.”

With this leadership style, Zion has earned himself a strong reputation among its peers and the firm’s leading clients from across the continent. When asked about what his biggest challenge was on accepting the responsibility of managing the firm earlier this year, he said: “The biggest challenge when you manage a law firm is having two jobs at the same time. As a Managing Director, I have to oversee several support departments such as business development and marketing, along with supporting other lawyers at the firm and coordinating our strategy. But I am also a lawyer with my own practice having to retain our biggest clients.”

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