Two of Nigeria’s biggest entrepreneurs, Aliko Dangote, president, Dangote Group and Tony Elumelu, chairman, Heirs Holdings, have lent their voices to the call for more indigenous participation in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
Both, who were guest speakers at the 32nd annual international conference of the National Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE) in Lagos, Nigeria, said the involvement of indigenous institutions and players would bode well for the economy and sued for a deliberate and systematic approach to the involvement of Nigerian entrepreneurs in the oil and gas industry.
“I was encouraged to come into the oil and gas industry by someone who believes deeply in Nigerian local capacity”, said Elumelu in his opening remarks.
He explained that localisation will impact positively on the sector just like it happened with banking.
“Many years ago, it was the general belief that only expatriates could own and run banks in Nigeria. Today, however, the top five banks are owned and run indigenously and we need the same to happen in the oil and gas sector”, Elumelu said.
The seasoned entrepreneur, whose pan-African investment company is investing in the financial services, oil and gas, healthcare, power and hospitality sectors, revealed that he has ambitious plans in the oil and gas industry, disclosing that he is looking forward to the day when Nigeria will have the capacity to refine its petroleum on its own shores.
According to him, Tenoil Petroleum and Energy Services was set up as a platform to manage and operate Heirs Holdings’ investments across the energy value chain, as well as the extractive minerals sector.
“Gas remains a hindrance to our economic development yet we have it in abundance. Efficient utilisation of our gas resources is important if we want to create employment, fix the economy, send our children to school and generally make things work”, Elumelu said.
Aliko Dangote, who is the president, Dangote Group, emphasised the importance of policy and regulation in the quest to indigenize the sector.
Dangote also harped on capacity building and explained that the petro-chemical plant in the Lekki free trade zone in Lagos when completed by 2017 will employ thousands of Nigerians and turn the country into a net exporter of petroleum products.
He also disclosed that when he set up Dangote Cement in 2007, the cement industry had little local capacity, saying that has since changed with indigenous players now having the dominant market share in the Nigerian cement industry.
The annual conference of NAPE brings together participants from companies and institutions involved in petroleum exploration and production.
It attracts seasoned industry professionals, key policy makers, researchers and students from all over the world, who strive to push the frontiers of knowledge by sharing innovation and industry best practices during high quality technical sessions and an exciting exhibition of local contents.