I'd like to devote this letter to sharing the key strategic plans we have for SAOGA going forward. Over the past few months we have taken a hard look at what we are doing and what we could be doing and have made some significant decisions about where we will spend our energy going forward. Four principles underpin the choices we are making:
- SAOGA should be focused most strongly on those areas where our members are asking for assistance and intervention;
- We need to be focused on things that as directly as possible result in tangible progress towards our mission of increasing the scale of upstream supplier activity in South Africa;
- We need to ensure that what we take on we can deliver; doing too much ends in paralysis and the challenge for SAOGA is to focus on a few key things;
- More of the alliance work needs to be directly initiated, managed and carried out by members themselves; this has the twofold advantage that i) we are working on things that matter to industry and ii) scarce resources at SAOGA are not the limiting factor for industry progress in important areas of collaboration.
I would encourage you to take a look at a Green Paper I wrote in late December to get a sense of how we see the opportunities that the dramatic growth in sub-Saharan upstream activity presents for South Africa . In a nutshell we believe that, as in other industries, South Africa could and should be striving to become a "gateway hub" for African upstream activity much as (hydrocarbon-less) Singapore has become in East Asia. While the paper outlines a variety of possible opportunities for developing this hub vision we at SAOGA have decided to focus on four areas in the year or two ahead:
1. Marketing and Promoting our Members and Industry
If there was one clear message we have heard from members in the course of company visits this year it is that companies are looking for tangible market opportunities and of course these directly grow our sector. There are in fact two needs in this regard:
- On the one had we need to generically market and promote the upstream industry and capability that is available in South Africa. To this end we will be developing further the Upstream Directory we have started (www.oilandgassa.com) looking to turn it into a fairly comprehensive listing of South African-based companies for potential buyers as well as providing general information about capabilities and facilities that are available here. We will also look to raise our industry profile with more active media and publicity activity and direct delivery of promotional materials.
- The second need is to help companies directly find specific market opportunities in the sector. To do this we will initiate a structured trade facilitation programme (come to the next breakfast to find out more!) and work more closely with our government investment and trade promotion agencies as well as our overseas partner networks to help match companies to opportunities.
2. Scaling up the Rig/Ship Repair & Service Hub
I have been saying for some time that the opportunities for scaling up the ship and rig repair/upgrade sector are substantial if we can get a few things right (principally the TNPA relationship and better industry behaviour). We aim to focus a lot of energy on this sector in the coming year but it will be industry directed activity. Step 1 will be to form a "Cluster Leadership Team" to define the strategic agenda for collaborative action in the sector. Industry staffed task teams with SAOGA support will then get on with tackling the work. I would expect to see collaborative efforts around training, resolving the "ship agency issues" related to our sector, and general marketing and promotion of the hub amongst others.
3. Linking and Networking our Sector
We recognise that our function of connecting people together in the sector is an important one, as is our role of helping people to access and process information together. We will therefore continue with our programme of networking events and will look to enhance it by implementing better mechanisms for people to find each other at events and expand it to other parts of the country - notably the Gauteng region where we have a substantial number of members.
4. Supporting Growth Opportunities for the Industry
The final core initiative is to provide a policy/analytic resource to support the ongoing growth of the sector. We are currently looking to put a multi-year agreement in place with NORAD and Marintek - the Norwegian maritime/offshore O&G thinktank/consultancy. This will focus on i) helping us improve the functioning and productivity of the rig/ship repair & service cluster and ii) identifying potential new areas within the upstream value chain that could be competitively targeted from South Africa.
We will also continue to build our relationships with various public sector stakeholders to raise the profile of the sector and create a platform for addressing policy and regulatory issues that impact the industry such as the customs & excise regime and the Angolan visa issue.
I think this more focused strategy should allow us to make tangible progress that will positively impact our members and broader industry. I'm also looking forward to deeper engagement by the industry in your collective issues.
I'll end with the now customary plugs:
- Registration for our March 31 Networking Breakfast is now open - Click here to sign up.
- Our partner organisation NOF Energy in the UK is arranging a market visit to Brazil in June 2011. SAOGA members can participate (at their own expense). I can recommend NOF Energy visits as being very well organised so if you are looking for an opportunity to have a look at the Brazilian upstream sector I'd encourage you to consider this. Contact us if you are interested.
- The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) is holding an exhibition and conference in October 2011. Funding from DTI is potentially available and through AGI it will be possible to access a range of companies and opportunities. If you are interested in attending or exhibiting at this event please contact us as soon as possible.