Pan-African cooperation focus at opening ceremony for APPO Cape VII in Equatorial Guinea

2336172202 a506090718 bThe seventh edition of APPO Cape VII, the conference for the African Petroleum Producers Organisation (APPO), opened in Malabo with five addresses to delegates 

Opening proceedings, the mayor of Malabo, Maria Coloma Edjang Mbengono said that the Equatorial Guinea oil and gas industry has led to business opportunities in other sectors, such as tourism and agriculture. She set the tone for the pan-African focus by saying that the commercial opportunities should be shared across African countries.

His Excellency Mahaman Laouan Gaya, secretary-general for APPO, said the conference should be a "platform for cooperation ... sharing of knowledge and skills", and highlighted the importance of the 18 APPO member nations which are collectively responsible for at least 20 per cent of the world's oil production. He called for "the highest authorities" of Africa's countries to work together to overcome energy poverty and ensure energy security.

"APPO is a significant partner in the world of energy," Mr Gaya said. "We have to be ambitious for Africa ... The potential is there [for] very big surprises in the oil sector."

Next, His Excellency Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, secretary-general of OPEC, addressed the conference, praising the contribution Equatorial Guinea has made to OPEC since it attained full membership in May 2017, as well as hailing the country's president for his "fortitude, bravery and vision". He also paid tribute to His Excellency Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Equatorial Guinea's minister of mines and hydrocarbons, for his leadership at a national level and as part of OPEC.

"The country's leadership recognises the value of being in an organisation such as OPEC ... It empowers African countries on a global scale," Mr Barkindo said, adding that Equatorial Guinea's "one-stop shop" system which enables businesses to be set up in a week was an example for the continent.

Describing Equatorial Guinea as "a vital cog" for OPEC and "a driving force for operations in this region", Mr Barkindo echoed the sentiments of Ms Mbengono when he said that the development of oil and gas in the country should help other industries, such as agriculture and financial services. 

With Equatorial Guinea's Year of Energy 2019 initiative, Mr Barkindo said this was an important step in "intra-African cooperation [and] pan-African alliance building."

On a global scale, Mr Barkindo was optimistic about returned buoyancy to the world oil industry following measures taken by a collaboration of 24 OPEC and non-OPEC countries to limit production in order to bring stability back to the industry after the turbulence of 2013-2016, which he said was "not a time to have happy thoughts for our industry". He said that thanks to production cuts, 90 per cent conformity was achieved in February this year, an improvement on 83 per cent conformity achieved in January.

Mr Barkindo concluded his address with an African proverb: "Keep your head and heart in the right direction and you won't have to worry about your feet."

Mr Obiang Lima then addressed the conference, saying that the development of hydrocarbons is important for all countries represented at the event.

"In this Year of Energy, we want to promote optimal policies that strengthen leadership and strengthen other members and elevate our world position," the minister said. "No one doubts the opportunities our sector represents for the economy ... oil and gas must be used to benefit our citizens."

He called for "stronger judicial frameworks" across the continent "for a stronger Africa", adding that the support of all governments was needed to "maximise efficiency in the entire supply chain."

Picking up on the local content theme planned for the conference, the minister described local content development as "the central spine of the industry" and urged for the "harmonising of legislation and national content policies in all our jurisdictions".

Finally, the president, His Excellency Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo spoke, again on the importance of cooperation and harmonisation between African countries, saying he hoped the conference would be a "turning point" for the industry across Africa.

"Globalisation forces us to work together with common policies yo meet the challenges presented in today's world," he said. "The spirit of dynamism [is needed] in order to guarantee that we are not relying on the economies of the developed world."

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