Invest In Africa (IIA) was established in 2012 as a Pan-African multi-sectoral non-profit organization with the primary mission of supporting entrepreneurs and small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) to succeed in sub-Saharan Africa’s corporate sector. It does this especially by emphasizing the promotion of local content in the extractive industries, and providing a number of capacity-building and training initiatives for IIA members. It also enables these companies to better access finance on more favorable terms, as well as facilitating their overall ability to enter new markets.
The genesis of IIA initially began in the United Kingdom through the support of Tullow Oil. Since that time, IIA has grown steadily and expanded its operations into numerous countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa including Senegal, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritania, and Zambia. It has achieved remarkable results in terms of both job creation and fostering new business development opportunities for a growing number of local SMEs.
IIA has been operating in Senegal since 2018, where it has received the strong support of two of the major international oil companies (IOCs) currently operating in the country; BP and Woodside Petroleum. The oil and gas industry is a new sector in Senegal; although oil and gas exploration had already been underway in the country for some time since the early 1960s, it was only in 2014, 2016 and 2017 that major offshore oil and gas deposits were actually discovered.
Under the administration of H.E. President Macky Sall, the government of Senegal, put in place an enabling environment to support the development of local content. This vision is articulated at the very heart of the Emerging Senegal Plan (PSE) and is also at the core of various strategic organizations in the country´s oil and gas sector such as Cos-Petrogaz, the NOC Petrosen, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, and the Institute for Petroleum and Gas (INPG). They are all working together to implement President Macky Sall´s long-term economic development strategy, whereby the hydrocarbon sector aims to benefit the entire population through long-term job creation and by putting in place an equitable distribution of petroleum revenues. Especially, by actively promoting the training and development of young Senegalese oil and gas professionals for future oil and gas careers.
It is precisely because of the dual alignment in the visions of the State of Senegal and that of IIA about the importance of creating new opportunities for local players, that the organization is now uniquely well positioned to be a champion of local content in Senegal´s emerging oil and gas sector. IOCs present in Senegal and IIA both know that the main challenge to fully develop a successful local content strategy is to ensure that workers are sufficiently skilled.
“In terms of the impact that we have currently got here in Senegal, we have been able to facilitate or host 57 tenders onto the Invest In Africa platform and 26 local SMEs won contracts with several buyers on the platform,” Marketing and Business Development Director of Invest in Africa, Mr. Mamadou DIOP told Energy Capital & Power in an exclusive interview.
The importance of these results cannot be overstated, and for a simple reason. Far too often throughout sub-Saharan Africa, local companies in many oil and gas producing countries miss out entirely on these kinds of new business opportunities; either because they do not know about them in the first place, or because those actually tendering for contracts do not meet the technical prerequisites, or possess all of the necessary certifications. That is where IIA’s African Partner Pool or (APP) proves to be incredibly valuable and enables local companies to effectively be able to compete, and in some cases subsequently win contracts in Senegal´s emerging and rapidly growing oil and gas sector.
The APP platform is highly successful in supporting the inclusion of SMEs in their ability to bid for projects in Senegal. Diop noted that: “as of today, the platform has enrolled 1,776 SMEs, local and international. And out of those, 87% are local SMEs.” By linking buyers and potential suppliers, IIA is thus creating a level playing field for local players and positioning them to potentially capture vital new business opportunities.
Another particularly important aspect of IIAs current activity in Senegal, is its role in helping to ensure that SMEs have access to finance on competitive terms, which many SMEs might otherwise not have on their own. IIA has partnered with three of the major banks in Senegal; Orabank, Credit du Senegal, and Ecobank. The banks and IIA work together to thoroughly conduct the necessary due diligence.
The sheer scale of the gas reserves recently unlocked in Senegal´s offshore projects like SNE, SANGOMAR or Grande Tortue, means that by 2023 when large-scale commercial oil and gas production begins in earnest, the number of opportunities for SMEs to compete on multiple projects is certain to grow along with the rapid development of the sector as a whole.