AOP 2017: Policy and Law Panel Highlights

Poor regulation was a key issue brought up throughout the conference in panels from oil and gas to power projects to country spotlights, reflecting the fact that investors in Africa consistently rank uncertain regulatory frameworks as one of the biggest challenges of operating in Africa. Creating transparent, balanced regulations that benefit the investor as well as the country is one of the greatest obstacles many African nations are facing, and our Policy and Law panel addressed these issues in-depth.

Panelists included NJ Ayuk, CEO of Centurion Law Group; Nicolas Bonnefoy, Deputy Head of Oil & Gas at Bowman; Lloyd Manokore, Partner of Manokore Attorneys; Lizel Oberholze, Director of Norton Rose Fulbright; Richard Moulet, Managing Partner of Sutter & Pearce; and Anuol Deng, Managing Partner of Awatkeer Law Chambers; and moderator Emre Üşenmez, Petroleum Economist and Lecturer in Oil & Gas Law at the University of Aberdeen.

A point brought up consistently by all of the panelists was the need to have clear, balanced regulations, and implementing the laws on the books consistently.

“It doesn’t help that you have the Rolls Royce of legislation in a country. If there is too much legislation and over-regulation, it stifles investment… So, to find that balance between having good regulation but not too much, and also the implementation of that regulation. Because it doesn’t help if you have these beautiful laws, but there’s not enough trained and skilled people to enforce the laws, then there is not a use for the laws,” said Oberholze.

Other issues the panelists brought up is the need to establish local content policies throughout the continent, so that the citizens benefit directly from petroleum resources. Many countries do not have national content policies that boost the domestic workforce, such that Africa as a continent has a local content rate of under 10 percent in the oil and gas industry. This needs to change, argued panelists.

Additionally, the lawyers on the panel noted the need for balanced contracts, which take into consideration a company’s mandate to make a profit versus a government’s mandate to secure sound deals, which may include oil rents, infrastructure development, local content initiatives, etc., for its people.