By Obas Esiedesa
Nigeria’s Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu was on Monday named the President of the African Petroleum Producers Organisation (APPO), following a meeting of the group in Abuja.
He took over from Michel Boukar, a Chadian.
APPO was founded in 1986 in Lagos, with its headquarters in Brazzaville in the Congo. It currently comprises 14 member countries which include Algeria, Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa, Libya, and Nigeria.
Speaking at the opening of the meeting, Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo expressed concern that 30 years after the group was formed it has met the expectation of its founders.
Osinbajo said Africa needs a united front at the global level when energy issues were discussed.
“We are convinced that there is no better institution to convene those conversations than APPO itself” he stated.
He added that “it is gratifying to note that the decision to reassess the effectiveness of the organization and to embark on significant reforms came from within the organization itself. I want to commend the Council of the Ministers of APPO for the bold decision to confront the fundamental challenges facing the organization.
“Let me on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari and the government and people of Nigeria, thank you for the confidence you repose on Nigeria, manifesting in your unanimous agreement to place the responsibility for leading the reforms process on Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu. Permit me the immodesty of saying Kachikwu was since March 2016, very much remained at the centre of the reform efforts in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
“It is well pleased that he would deliver in this responsibility, given that it is very similar to what he has championed here in the domestic oil and gas front as Minister in the last two and half years.
“Given the progress achieved so far in the Nigerian oil and gas industry, I can therefore, confidently assure you that Nigeria and Dr. Kachikwu and his team would exceed our expectations regarding the APPO reforms. I want to assure you also that Nigeria would give you all the support you need to render his vision of making APPO hold the world’s major institutions reference on Africa’s hydrocarbon matters and indeed the pride of Africa”.
On his part, Kachikwu pointed out that new oil finds were taking place on the continent with massive exploration going on.
He however stressed that finding the needed finance for these new projects was also becoming more difficult.
He said: “The realities that all over Africa, there are new finds of oil; massive exploration is going on. Everybody is enthused by the possibility of further harnessing new natural resources that we are going to use to develop the continent. The reality also is that finding the necessary finance for this is very difficult.
“Increasingly, with what had happened, especially with the tumbling of oil prices, over the last few years, nice that is has begun to come up a lot of investors found it difficult to invest, not just in oil exploration activities, but in fact, even worst still, oil exploration activities in Africa.
“The only way growth would happen in this sector in the whole of Africa is through an inter-dependence approach. All of us must be able to hold hands and find a way of supporting one another, in terms of the research; in terms of the internal investments potentials and capabilities, and also help to drive the process.
“But more fundamentally, but it must be in a position to have a lot of best learning from some of the three or four major producer countries that have been in this for quite a long time, as the new ones are coming on board”.