SSOP 2021 Investment Panel Discussion: Doing Business in South Sudan

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The second day of the SSOP 2021 conference which took place in Juba this week commenced with a presentation about the vision of South Sudan’s petroleum sector in 2021 under the theme ‘Explore the Nation’. Following a brief address by Developing Director of Petrotech, Dr. Omar Abu-Elbashar, the second session of Wednesday’s conference presented a panel discussion focusing on areas such as investment policy, regulatory concerns, debt capital as well as the tools and strategies needed to enable investment in energy and business operations in South Sudan by international investment professionals: Rick Lorio, CEO of Energy Investment Company; Patrick Obath, Chairman, Adrian Kenya Ltd.; Luris Mulla; CEO, L Mulla Ltd.; Zion Adeoye, Managing Director, Centurion Law Firm; Karl Rheinberger, Managing Director, Emerging Energy Corporation; Hugo Hill, Managing Director, TRM Risk Management; Mary Gatluk, Planning Manager, SPOC, and was moderated by Ateh Taku, Managing Director, Oval Petroleum. 

The session was opened by Dr. Abu-Elbashar, who, working closely with the Ministry of Petroleum in South Sudan, discussed the licensing round and divulged the benefits of data acquisition, presenting ideas such as an online working station that provides incentive for investment to an international arena of investors, and the necessity for a platform for international governments and companies to share data. “Cooperation in data is very important,” he said, emphasizing the need for collaborative exchange agreements between companies and neighboring countries to allow better practice in geo-policy making.  

Following the opening address, the panel discussion, moderated by Managing Director of Oval Petroleum, Ateh Taku, involved a diverse panel of experts in various fields related to the oil and gas industry who discussed the state of funding investments in South Sudan by looking at the facilitation of regulatory, legal, and business frameworks, operation practices, infrastructure implementation, and safety protocols.  

With regards to facilitating a friendly framework for doing business in South Sudan, Managing Director of Germany’s Emerging Energy Corporation, Karl Rheinberger provided his insight into the improvement of investment policy stating that preconditions including legislation, transparency, and investment into infrastructure from the country itself are clear indicators for outsiders to evaluate investment potential in the country, emphasizing the need for communication, progress tacking and the motivation to move towards renewables. This sentiment was echoed by the CEO of the U.S. Energy Investment Company, Rick Lorio, reiterating the point that transparency is critical to attracting foreign investors.  

Pressed on the regulatory and legal frameworks that are in place in South Sudan and their potential areas of improvement, Managing Director of Centurion Law Firm from South Africa, Zion Adeoye, stressed that self-compliance to well-written and informative regulatory frameworks must be enforced, with Patrick Obath, Chairman of Adrian Kenya Ltd., adding that, with regards to the implementation of legal frameworks, it is essential for policies and regulations to retain a high degree of certainty. 

Encouraging investors in South Sudan to adhere to regulations and rules, Planning Manager for SPOC, Kenya, Mary Gatluk, highlighted transparency, and openness between the governmental and private sectors as essential for facilitating a framework for insurable investments. This notion of the importance of communication between agencies was further emphasized by Hugo Hill, Managing Director for South Africa’s insurance and consultancy company, TRM Risk Management, who noted that a greater collaboration between the insurance market, governments in Africa and the World Bank can assist in developing stability on the continent by facilitating a safer environment for foreign investors. With regards to encouraging potential investors, Luris Mulla, CEO of L Mulla Ltd., addressed infrastructure as a key challenge for the oil and gas industry in South Sudan, emphasizing the importance of having suitable transportation structures in place, hinting that savvy investors are inclined to invest in ports for transportation. 

It was noted by the panel, during their closing statements, that structures such as business centers, communication hubs and other single-point entry models that offer an atmosphere of transparency and cooperation by facilitating a faithful investment environment, is imperative to compel investors to engage in transactions with entities in Africa’s oil and gas sector. Belief in the sanctity of contracts is imperative for potential investors to have the confidence to invest in Africa. This includes irrevocable and concrete terms in the regulatory frameworks that guide transactions as well as demonstration of the fiscal stability of local governments. 

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Matthew Goosen

Matthew Goosen

Matthew Goosen is a Video Editor and Content Writer at Energy Capital & Power. He holds an Honours Degree in Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town and is currently undergoing his Masters Degree. Born in Pretoria and raised internationally, he has been living in Cape Town since 2013.

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