Two women to watch this year in Africa's oil patch
Isabel dos Santos, appointed new head of Sonangol
Leadership roles of women in Africa’s oil patch has continued to grow in different facets of the industry. The management of national oil companies, majors and independent oil companies has started having increasing number of women who controls ownership or occupy managerial positions.
As Africa’s oil industry is building up in this year’s 2Q after the rubbles and bearish nature of the market since 2014, two women who will be significantly noticed on the radar will be Isabel dos Santos, who recently was appointed by her father, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, the president of Angola to head Sonangol the state oil company. The second that will be prominently mentioned in the oil scope is Irene Muloni, who was reappointed as the Minister of Energy & Mineral Resources by President Museveni of Uganda.
The abrupt and not well managed expansion of Sonanagol and its uncalculated quick internationalization which wasn’t economically viable negatively impacted its organizational strength and exposed weakness in the national oil company’s leadership after the exit of its former chairman Vicente Manuel, a close ally of Eduardo dos Santos, who was picked by the president to become his Vice President.
The organizational deterioration of Sonangol does not only affect the economy of Angola. A nation that accrues 95% of governments revenue from sales of oil, but also will weakened the presidency and hold on power as the strength of Sonangol is synonymous to the political survival of the 39 years Jose Eduardo dos Santos regime. A crack in the leadership of Sonanagol or complete failure will empower the opposition which has struggled for more three decades to wrestle power from Eduardo dos Santos. Appearing weak or losing control of the sources of the sovereign wealth which has emboldened his government and agenda would be the last mistake the president would want to do.
Angola’s politics is tied to oil wealth and the head of the national oil company is one of the most powerful positions to be occupied in this second largest oil producing country of Sub-Saharan Africa. Whoever heads Sonanagol must be a party loyalist, someone who is very dear to President dos Santos and must be his confidante as the chairman of Sonanagol is considered as the next powerful position in the country after the president.
Those opposed to the appointment of Isabel, the president’s daughter sees it as an expansion of authoritarianism in the country, a way for the president to persist on helping his family accumulate wealth and eventually hand over power to them when he retires in 2018.
Currently, Forbes magazine recorded Isabel dos Santos as Africa’s richest woman and most of her wealth comes from her extensive involvement in oil business. She also has boisterous portfolio with stakes in other industries such as diamond, banking, media, telecommunication and entertainment.
However, supporters of Isabel and the president see her appointment beyond congenital relationship, but considers Isabel dos Santos as the most proven, qualified that has all the pedigree and acumen to salvage the ailing national oil company.
Isabel’s successful track record in most of her business ventures and managerial acumen made her fans to applaud her appointment not only as the right chosen leader for the national oil company but as someone that will bring change and modernize Angola’s oil industry
Isabel’ s push as an agent of change that will also bring transparency to Angola’s oil industry which for years has been described as corrupt and she has also been accused as one of the beneficiary of the system, is also what would make her to be an industry focus globally . International watch dogs, media and western governments doing business with Angola would be eager to see how Isabel will lead in transparency. How quick she is able to transform Sonangol and develop local empowerment of Angolans would be very important to domestic and international observers.
Hon. Eng. Irene Muloni reappointed minister of energy & mineral resources,Uganda
Engr. Irene Nafuna Muloni was reappointed as Uganda Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources by President Yoweri Museveni in his formation of government after the February election. Against opposition’s remark, Muloni’s reappointment in the office which she has held for four years is in line with the presidency claims as its vision of ensuring continuity in the ongoing energy projects in Uganda.
Under Muloni’s leadership of the energy ministry, Uganda is about building new refinery and increasing oil and gas exploration and production. According to officials of the energy ministry, commercial oil production will commence in 2018 and the government is planning to build pipelines from Uganda oil fields to Tanzania coast that will enable effective transportation and exportation of Uganda’s oil once production kicks off.
Since the discovery of oil by Tullow in the East African nation, activities have increased along the Albertine Graben. Uganda launched a new licensing round which has about seven companies bidding for 6 blocks – Ngassa, Tai Tai, Mvule, Karuka, Turaco, Kanywantab and Ngaji. The seven companies bidding for the blocs are three Nigerian companies, two Australian, one Canadian and one company from United States. On the Nigeria side are WalterSmith Petroman Limited, Oranto Petroleum International Limited, Niger Delta Petroleum Resources; two Australian companies – Swala Energy Limited and Armour Energy Limited. The company from Canada is Rift Energy and the one from USA is Glint Energy LLC.
The licensing round, negotiation with bidders and signing of petroleum contracts, hopefully will be completed by the first week of July.