How important is the Mozambique Assembly as a meeting platform for the industry, and what are you most looking forward to at the event?
I was recently appointed as project manager for gas within NEPAD Business Foundation, and one of the first countries of responsibility I was asked to look at was Mozambique. So, attending the Mozambique Assembly has been an excellent platform to see on the ground what is really happening. Attending the Assembly has enabled me to understand the range of players that are involved, the progress that has already been made, and what are some of the opportunities that are being unlocked within Mozambique itself, and obviously it has allowed me the opportunity to begin to network, to exchange business cards and notes and ideas with a range of players that I believe we will need to continue to work with as we move forward.
What industry question or issue are you looking forward to hearing about in the Mozambique Assembly?
One of the first questions that was on my mind as I was coming into this Assembly was to get a better understanding about the views, the plan and the policy imperatives of the Government of Mozambique for the monetization of its vast natural gas resources? Because I think that’s what’s going to guide us moving forward. If you understand exactly what the strategy that Mozambique has in mind then it becomes easier for those who need to make critical decisions. We read about the gas master plan that Mozambique has, but I think often documents do not tell you enough, they do not give us the full picture of what is intended.
Being here gives you an idea of the nuances, the feeling and the passion that institutions have, around the development of the gas sector in Mozambique, and I think what’s been very useful was to see and hear the commitment of the Government of Mozambique, and the industry players that are already involved in what they’re doing in this regard. So that was particularly very useful for us, very informative, very encouraging going forward, and I think the take offs from this meeting is that notwithstanding the progress made so far, there’s still a lot of work ahead to make sure that Mozambique extracts maximum value from it’s natural gas resources. Mozambique, unlike any other African country, is in good position to take advantage of the substantive investment commitments already made and underway to become Africa’s first major gas hub.
I have not seen any country in Africa, in the region, where you have seen such a huge number of players that are actually making investments and commitments in that sector. So Mozambique is far ahead of any other countries, and we want to see Mozambique make full use and take advantage of that.
Where do you see the opportunities for growth in the industry in the next five years, and how is NEPAD positioned to support these opportunities?
Obviously our major area of interest is how can Mozambique utilise the availability of cheap natural gas to stimulate industrial development within Mozambique, the rest of the SADC region and Africa in general. As the NEPAD Business Foundation our job is to work together with the public sector, in this case, the Government of Mozambique and the private sector to help them overcome any challenges that might arise and to find solutions to ensure that all the potential bottlenecks to the successful implementation of projects are removed.
In addition, we also believe that we can assist Mozambique to identify, scope and develop successful gas based industrial projects in a manner that can help Mozambique to create more jobs, stimulate the development of its nascent local private sector and increase local content in the gas industry. We also work extensively across the SADC region and have thus developed a deeper understanding about the regional markets, and can thus assist Mozambique to craft effective strategies to access regional markets.
How have you seen the local content capacity evolve in recent years?
I think some progress has been made. We also have to accept that a few years back the gas industry in Mozambique was completely different. The new gas discoveries and the flurry of ongoing exploration activity along the Mozambican coast has certainly elevated the debate around local content to the top of the agenda. Therefore, it is very encouraging to see that the Government of Mozambique has established dedicated institutions to work together with the private sector to ensure that local content receives the attention it deserves. My advise to Mozambique is avoid the perpetuation of a situation where local content is used as a license to keep Mozambican citizens and corporations at the periphery of the natural gas industry, as mere beneficiaries of the benevolence of others. Rather the development and implementation of these projects must ultimately empower Mozambique to develop the necessary capability to undertake similar projects by themselves at some point in the future.
For example, Mozambique must use this opportunity to improve its institutional framework and capabilities by investing in human capital, research and development and specialization of local companies to provide a range of services/products to the natural gas industry, not only in Mozambique but possibly across the continent or even globally.
If I may add this, when you look at the natural gas sector, what Mozambique needs to do is to look at how the natural gas play within Africa and ask the following questions: what kind of capabilities are going to be needed to service that industry? what kinds of technologies are going to be needed to help Africa extract maximum value from the exploitation of this resource and how must Mozambique position itself strategically to take advantage of the opportunities that are being unlocked across the continent over time? In this regard, strategic partnerships with countries like Canada, Norway and Germany to mention a few would be highly recommended.
Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader, maybe someone who has been a mentor to you, why and how did this person impact your life?
I have been very fortunate in my life that every opportunity that has come my way, there has always been someone that has opened the door, that has lifted the lid, for me to rise-up through the ranks. One such individual is Rev. Daniel Ntoni-Zinga. During my younger days I was very passionate about the need to end the civil war in Angola, which is the country from where I come from. So when I met him for the first time, we spoke extensively about the situation in Angola and he asked me what I wanted to do about it. After listening to me attentively he referred me to some people who would be in a position to help me which opened the door for me to meet people who even today continue to make a difference in the world at very high levels. A few days after our first meeting, Rev Ntoni-Nzinga received an invitation to speak at a UN conference in Addis Abeba but due to other commitments he couldn’t.
So I received a call from Rev. Ntoni-Nzinga asking me to represent him but he also told me, “Look I am not going to tell you what you need to do, I am not even going to share with you my speeches. All I will tell you is go and research the issue, and then you need to prepare your own speech and go and talk”. This was a tremendous challenge, I went into that meeting, which was attended by highly experienced experts, shaking, not knowing that, indeed, what he was doing was teaching me to research, to learn and set me on the course for me to do the work that I am currently doing.
And, I think that experience was a very different way of mentoring, because when we hear about mentoring is we often want to see and follow our mentor as they carry out their different tasks, and over time learn from it. He did it differently, he turned the table upside down and said, ‘’I’m going to throw you into the lion’s den you better make sure you are prepared, don’t embarrass me’’. So I always hold that experience very dearly, but, as I say to be honest, there have been a number of people in every institution that I have worked for with whom I have collaborated, that have continued to help me to learn as I grow in my professional life.
About the NEPAD Business Foundation
The NEPAD Business Foundation (NBF) is a non-proﬁt organisation that coordinates private sector eﬀorts aimed at Africa’s economic growth and development in alignment with the NEPAD thematic areas.
Through signed MoU’s with the African Union, NEPAD Agency and the SADC Secretariat, among others, the NBF and its private sector stakeholders are able to implement interventions that complement the development eﬀorts by governments across the continent.
The NBF operates as a pan-African institution with interventions and operations in over 36 African countries.
Over the past decade, the NBF has worked tirelessly to become one of the most trusted advisors and neutral facilitators that promote cooperation and partnership between governments and businesses in Africa.