Creating a buoyant African economy through regional content. By Sunny Oputa
President Jonathan of Nigeria and President Obiang of Equatorial Guinea
This past August I was on a panel in an event organized by Cameroon Professional Association at Rice University, Houston to discuss the challenges of local content in Africa. I informed our audience that as much as local content would contribute in accelerating indigenous participation in the oil industry; assist in alleviating the pangs of Dutch disease and propel domestic economic growth, that for proper growth to cut across Africa and ameliorate poverty, Africa must focus more on regional content.
Inasmuch as I received a grand ovation, I knew that the mention of regional content sounded a little strange to a few and those who have known me as an arch-apostle of local content would have imagined if I was giving up on a gospel which I have preached with passion for the past five years. Really, regional content and local content are inter-related and dwell on the platform of developing human capital necessary to meet the challenges of economic growth, encouraging locals to participate in the development of their God’s given natural resources, and to support domestic industries and partnerships with international companies of various spheres.
While regional content views the development of all African countries through regional collaboration and co-operation in the use of resources – physical, financial and human, local content anchors on every nation first on its own. Since most African countries are new in the core functions of oil and gas E &P their dependent on Nigeria, Angola and Algeria for human capital exchange is very essential. Also lack of easy access to funding, and high cost of acquiring rigs for example and vital technology warrants that African countries must inter-play with one another in the development of their natural resources. Regional content in its operations also stimulates vibrant trade among African nations.
African countries should go beyond local content commence regional content or integration. This should be a new challenge for ECOWAS, COMESA, EAC, and ECCAS if Africa must have a robust economic growth by 2020 and foster the alleviation of poverty. Instead of the avalanche of agenda which these regional bodies are dishing out that sets up little growth and unhealthy division among Africans they should focus on building formidable relationships to create buoyant economy in Africa.