African Oil and Gas and the Quest for Prosperity – A review of the book “BIG BARRELS”

BIG BARRELS has arrived very late. For many like myself, who struggled with the scarcity of positive Africa-specific case studies at business school; it’s about time, too.

By showcasing examples of countries where the ‘Resource Curse’ is being overcome, NJ Ayuk and João Gaspar Marques have placed a finger right on the pulse of Africa’s future prosperity. The writers point to a more transparent kind of African leadership, with working examples of cooperation, civic responsibility, accountability, and successfully managed policy. BIG BARRELS provides material for far-reaching academic discussions about Africa’s growth prospects in the coming decades. As more African nationals and decision-makers get familiar with these success stories, we expect to see better management of extractive resources simply because more people now know that African nations can do right by their people.

Ghana’s meticulous preparation for the management of her new oil resources; the call for expertise from the global community, and the direct involvement of the citizens – all point to progress. We see a collective victory over the image of doom that hovered around Africa’s oil and gas conversations. We are shown that there are positive lessons to learn from the tragic resource dependencies of countries like Nigeria, Congo, and Equitorial Guinea; and from the new milestones that are emerging as each country adjusts and corrects the course. We are shown the vast and fast-growing East African corridor with Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Mozambique building up the regional eco-system, and showing evidence of national GDP increase, global trust building, and innovations for improved infrastructure and regional connectivity.

Ayuk and Marques do not shy away from the fact that Africa’s resource-related corruption problem is not entirely self-made. The authors clearly acknowledge the chaotic forces behind institutionalized corruption masked as CSR, bilateral business deals, economic development, military aid or Foreign Direct Investment. Yet these negatives are balanced with inspiring narratives like the stability of Angola’s SONANGOL. Through the eyes of Ayuk and Marques, we see the path of Angola’s oil in 7 important steps that are applicable to just about any human endeavour:

– Resource identification (identify and protectively isolate the main income source)

– International best practices (build systems on a solid base and gain industry trust)

– Unique human capital solutions (make a deal that changes industry history)

– Technical stability (get the job done, in spite of the chaotic external situation)

– Infrastructure and capacity building (invest and improve exponentially)

– Contract and negotiation expertise (well-informed interface with external stakeholders)

– Self-determination and positive self-governance (strong decisions for the longer term)

Despite Angola’s years of civil unrest, we see SONANGOL as being isolated from the chaotic economic mistakes and policy tussles of most other state institutions. We see that it is possible.

Beyond the merits of prudent natural resource management, we are shown the jewel that is Gabon and the value of environmental stewardship. We see proof that ‘oil and water’ can mix, as Mother Nature has harmonized oil exploration structures with the aquatic environment. The thriving underwater communities around Gabon’s old oil platforms have revealed exciting fish species that are newly-native to Gabon and the West Africa area. We see a country that has prioritized the protection of aquatic and terrestial eco-systems through “strategic political decisions and policy shifts” and grown into a globally recognized champion of the environment. With government and private sector commitment, Gabon proves that oil exploration can contribute to environmental protection and enrichment in Africa. We see that it is possible.

The overall effect of this book will be felt across different demographics. Framed by Africa’s painful socio-economic trajectory, BIG BARRELS is written with a genuine (and tangible) objective of shedding light on the many opportunities for growth in oil-related fields. The authors show us that there are opportunities to develop stronger indigenous talent, and form solid human resource foundations to service the growing oil and gas industry. There are opportunities for better informed leadership, in civic activism and public involvement with policy formulation and decision-making. There is entrepreneurial hope in these scenarios of “political and social integrity and stable economic development”. And most importantly, there is empirical proof that Africa can produce successful models for other extractive industries in both developed and developing economies.

I see readers coming away encouraged by these cases, and effectively freed from the myth that Africa cannot be cured of the age-old “resource curse”.

It is possible.

Big Barrels is available on Amazon:

Distributed by APO on behalf of




About Funke Michaels:
Funké is an MIT Sloan Fellow, and Harvard Mason Fellow; a Fellow of The Nigerian Institute of Marketing, and The Institute of Brand Management. She co-founded the MIT Africa Investment Forum which convenes on campus bi-annually. She is co-founder of The Pro-NICHE Network, a not-for-profit organization providing free concept incubation, niche-networking and consulting services for African start-ups. Funke teaches a postgraduate course in International Brand Excellence – IBX (360-Degree Marketing) at The Orange Academy, Lagos; and is on the project board of The Singing Torah in Boston, an MIT-affiliated tech start-up for the preservation and teaching of Hebrew Oral Culture. She is a member of The MIT Think Tank, and a USAID ‘Young African Leaders Initiative’ (YALI) Partner. Funké is also an author, adjunct lecturer, public speaker and culture coach.

Source:: African Oil and Gas and the Quest for Prosperity – A review of the book “BIG BARRELS”

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MoU between the Islamic Development Bank Group and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Medina to Support the Dates Sector

Under the Patronage of H.R.H. Prince Saud Bin Khalid Al-Faisal, Deputy Governor of Medina Region, the Chairman of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group, H.E Dr. Bandar bin Mohammed Hamza Hajjar and the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Madinah H.E Mr. Munir Mohammed Nasser bin Saad signed a MoU for mutual cooperation and support the Chamber’s role in promoting the commercial and economic environment in the Medina region, and activating its participation in achieving the goals of the National Transition Program 2020 and the Vision 2030 of Saudi Arabia. The signing ceremony took place in the Office of H.R.H the Prince and was attended by the Chief Executive Officer of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) ( Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, and the Secretary-General of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Medina, Mr. Mohammed Mahmoud Ramadan.

The MoU included the development of the dates sector in the Medina region, which will be implemented under the supervision of ITFC, the trade financing arm of the IsDB Group, for two years in cooperation with the International Trade Center (ITC), the United Nations arm in support of the private sector. The project aims to address the obstacles faced by farmers and SMEs to ensure full utilization of the potential of the dates sector in Medina to increase internal and external demand.

On this occasion, Dr Bandar Hajjar thanked H.R.H Prince Saud Bin Khalid Al Faisal, Deputy Governor of Medina Region for honoring the signing ceremony of the MoU between the IsDB Group and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Medina to support the dates sector in Saudi Arabia, which is currently the world’s third-largest exporter of fresh and dried dates. Dr. Bandar Hajjar also added, “The Kingdom, which annually produces about 1.2 million tons of dates, has great potential to increase its exports and explore new export markets. The impact and expected results of this project is to improve competitiveness and increase exports of the dates of Medina, which will generate better returns for farmers and create more jobs.”

Dr. Bandar Hajjar also noted that this pilot project was included under the Member Country Partnership Strategy (MCPS) with Saudi Arabia, which includes projects and activities in the field of trade development and the search for potential and sources of funding within the common objectives of both parties.

From his side, Mr. Munir Mohammed Nasser bin Saad expressed his gratitude on having the MoU signing under the patronage and honor of H.R.H Prince Saud bin Khalid Al-Faisal, Deputy Governor of the Medina and thanked H.E Dr. Bandar Hajjar, Chairman of the IsDB Group on the efforts of the Islamic Development Bank in promoting the competitiveness of the dates sector in Medina to reach global markets and ensure revenue for farmers and private sector institutions. “This MoU represents a strategic shift in strengthening the national identity of the dates sector in Medina.”

Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, the CEO ITFC added that the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), supported the Chamber’s request to develop the dates sector which is of great importance to Medina and Saudi Arabia. “The MoU also includes the capacity building project in the field of international trade. This project provides effective training on the mechanisms and requirements of export to foreign markets, in various productive sectors in Medina. This type of training and rehabilitation was designed by the Foreign Trade Training Center (FTTC) in Egypt to educate the productive sector on the importance of exports. The training courses for this program will then be launched under the supervision of ITFC.”

Distributed by APO on behalf of International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC).

Media contact:
Raghda Elsharawy
Asst. GM Corporate Communication & Marketing
+966 12 646 8409

Source:: MoU between the Islamic Development Bank Group and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Medina to Support the Dates Sector

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Madagascar President Calls on South African Businesses to Invest in Madagascar

The President of Madagascar, Mr Hery Rajaonarimampianina, has called on the South African business community to invest in Madagascar. President Rajaonarimampianina made the call during the Madagascar Investors Conference that was hosted by Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) in partnership with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) in Pretoria today.

President Rajaonarimampianina said Madagascar, which had recently come out of political instability was in urgent need of investments. He said the country was pursuing mutually beneficial cooperation with prospective investors with the view to creating jobs that would benefit the citizens of both countries.

“Our ambition is one, and that is to improve the lives of our citizens. We call upon the South African business community to partner with us in this goal. We are here to give you compelling reasons to invest in Madagascar,” said President Rajaonarimampianina.

According to him, their vision is to have sustainable development in the country. The conference provided South African businesses with an opportunity to engage with both Malagasy government and businesses to acquire in-depth information on trade and investment prospects presented by the island state. He commended the Development Bank of South Africa which had funded the upgrade of the Antananarivo airport, citing the funding as a shining example of potential partnerships between the two countries.

He continued to highlight sectors that were critical to changing Madagascar’s growth trajectory. These include energy, infrastructure, tourism and mining. According to him, energy demand currently exceeds supply in that only 23% of the population have access to electricity. It is against this backdrop that the President invited South Africa to partner with Madagascar to address its infrastructure deficit. He cited projects such as the large scale mining projects and a booming textile sector, all of which require ports, roads and railways in which South Africa could invest.

The conference will conclude tomorrow with business to business meetings between the South African businesses and their Madagascar counterparts. Both countries are keen to facilitate investments to each other’s markets, hence the convening of the Investors’ Conference for sharing of investment opportunities in Madagascar with the South Africa private sector.

Distributed by APO on behalf of The Department of Trade and Industry, South Africa.

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On the occasion of the ground breaking ceremony of the proposed Kabarak University Teaching Research & Referral Mission Hospital

Kabarak University is partnering with international organizations to develop a 500-bed, state-of-the-art, multi-disciplinary tertiary hospital to be located in Kabarak, Nakuru County. In addition, the project scope will comprise of a 250 bed Kabarak University Hospital Nairobi and modernization of 23 mission of hospitals under Christian Health Association of Kenya (CHAK). The $450-Million medical campus is expected to commence operations in 2020.

Kabarak University Teaching Research and Referral Mission Hospital’s mission is to build an economically sustainable, center of excellence hospital that will deliver internationally accredited standards of care and is set to become a catalyst for strengthening healthcare services in Kenya, as well as furthering advanced research in the region.

Using the US Green Building Council’s LEED certification program, Kabarak University will design, build, maintain, operate an environmentally sustainable, cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. The Hospital Motto is: WE TREAT WITH GOD`S LOVE.

The project which will be set on 100 hectares of land will also develop medical tourism to Kenya leveraging the specialized treatment the hospital will offer.

Kabarak University has picked General Electric (GE) ( Healthcare to be the technology provider for the project. GE Healthcare ( will assist the university with infrastructure development, technology transfer, education and capacity building to support a better health system and patient outcomes. The project will be financed by US based Private Equity Sygec international among other stakeholders.

Farid Fezoua, President and CEO – GE Healthcare Africa said: “GE is honored to have been selected to serve as a technology partner to the Kabarak University Teaching Research & Referral Mission Hospital, bringing healthcare infrastructure modernization with a long-term maintenance to help strengthen primary and referral care.”

He added that this further affirmed GE’s commitment to supporting sustainable healthcare development in Africa through capacity building and skills development that are contributing towards nurturing the continent’s healthcare ecosystem.

The Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) for the project will include EIFFAGE (French based), EGMF (Belgium) and CMB (Italian).

The proposed Kabarak University teaching research & referral mission Hospital will provide advanced types of care and be capable of diagnosing and treating the most complicated cases. It will include specialities in cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery, cancer, women and child health, stem cell and regenerative medicine, neurology and minimally invasive surgery, with the latest medical equipment such as MRI and CT scanners and nuclear medicine.

“As the first and the only mission referral hospital in the country, we will ensure that Kenyans have access to world-class care locally to reduce medical tourism outside the country,” Dr Henry Kiplagat, The Ag. Vice Chancellor.

Kabarak University will use the hospital to educate and train doctors, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals who are equipped not only to provide excellent care but to lead and transform health care institutions and systems to make them work more effectively for the people they serve.

In addition, by providing a working environment that meets the highest standards, the hospital hopes to attract Kenyan health professionals working abroad to return home, while retaining new graduates who might otherwise have left.

At completion, the project will provide a fully furnished and equipped referral mission hospital that has well trained and experienced doctors and nurses, connected to a network of mission hospitals that will allow world class diagnostic and treatment services through a fully equipped university hospital facility.

Further, Kabarak University Teaching Research and Referral Mission Hospital will be an anchor of medical education and a centre of disease control for Africa that will provide the infrastructure for emergency response to the continent. A properly equipped hospital will provide tertiary care and therefore ease the congestion for the more than 40 hospitals in the southern rift valley, lower north rift valley, central parts of Kenya, and the western region of Kenya as well as Eastern Uganda, southern Sudan and Somalia.

In addition, Kabarak University will establish a welfare programme funded by the university and philanthropists that will help patients who cannot afford the charges to get treatment.

Distributed by APO on behalf of GE.

Media contact:
Nina Florette
Account Manager
The Newmark Group Limited
T:+254-(0)20-233 1648

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Source:: On the occasion of the ground breaking ceremony of the proposed Kabarak University Teaching Research & Referral Mission Hospital

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