Meet Amma Boateng, Managing Director Of Ghanaian Budding Destra Energy Group
Destra Energy Group is a budding and fully indigenous Ghanaian company providing ancillary services to key players in the oil and gas industry and also delivers power solutions through the application of renewable energy technology. Destra though a young enterprise has within the short period of being launched into the Ghanaian oil and gas industry made its mark in terms of quality service delivery. Geographically located in Accra, yet, Destra Energy Group can be found on the global oil and gas map. This is especially so as the company joined over 2,300 exhibitors at the 2019 Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston at its booth, 8031.
Destra is founded by a 29-year old enterprising Ghanaian woman, Amma Boateng with an ambitious plan to become a vessel owner in the next five years to support her core business as an offshore support service company, expand into other African countries and in the long term and work towards becoming an operator. She represents the growing wave of vibrant African professional women deploying their expertise in the development and transformation of the African continent.
Amma, as she is fondly called, founded Destra Energy Group with her partner about three years ago, and since then the company has worked with reputable and trusted international and local brands such as Maersk Drilling, Technip FMC, ION Geophysical, Geoex Limited, SVS Offshore, Petra Energy, Colebrook Offshore, Rederij Groen, DH Energy, Energem, amongst others.
She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Petroleum Engineering from KNUST in Ghana and a triple Master’s degree in Strategic Project Management from Scotland, Italy and Sweden. Prior to setting up Destra Energy Group, she worked with Shell, Hydrocol Ltd – an offshore support service company as a Project Manager.
Women in a male-dominated industry
As one of the few women that finds herself in a male-dominated industry, Amma doesn’t think gender should really matter, rather, the focus should be on the value one brings on board. “It is interesting to work in a male-dominated industry. It does have its own challenges but at the end of the day, it all comes down to your value addition. So, as far as you are able to demonstrate the value you bring on board as a person in whatever industry you find yourself, people will work with you and doors will open for you.”
For the female executive, people, especially women should be encouraged to pursue their dreams in whatever field they want, warning that it should be done without sentiment. “We should create awareness of all the opportunities that exist in the industry but never force people to do what they don’t have any interest in, simply to increase the female to male ratio.
“I am a feminist but a responsible one as such and so I see nothing wrong with preference. If women prefer to be on a particular side of the industry and not in the other, I believe that is not a problem. We should, however, educate them to generate more interest in the opportunities that they may not be exploring.”
Admitting that there is the need to attract more women into the oil and gas industry, the social entrepreneur insisted that women should not be pushed into fields or profession they are not prepared for or lack the interest and competence. She said, “I know excellent Well Engineers who happen to be women that work with international oil and gas companies. They have worked in very harsh conditions on the FPSOs, demonstrated their value and have been promoted several times. And I am proud to know them. For me seeing these women succeed in the industry is very inspiring.”
Speaking on the Destra Energy Group’s female-male employment ratio, Amma disclosed that her company has about 80 per cent onshore female workforce and 100 per cent offshore male workforce. Stating that her company considers itself as an equal opportunity employer said, “Our male and female ratio is purely coincidence. It just happens that more females apply for administrative and managerial roles and almost 100 per cent of applicants for technical roles are male.”
According to Amma, the focus should not just be on having women employed but that more efforts should be geared towards creating awareness for available opportunities in the industry to pave for interest, the development of the right skills set and competencies. “I think more women should be made to be aware of all the opportunities in the industry to allow those that are interested in building a career in the industry to acquire the technical skills and deep appreciation of QHSE standards and procedures, to participate. I do not think there should be a deliberate effort to employ more women or anyone else, if the competence, interest and safety consciousness is lacking.”
As a social entrepreneur who is committed to impacting her generation and generations to come, Amma has accepted an offer from Plug-in Ghana to be a mentor for six months. She said, “I have been assigned a mentee to build a personal and professional relationship with and I am very excited about that. She is a Well Engineer with a desire to achieve great heights in her career. I am ready to hear about her goals and help her get closer to achieving them. I strongly believe in individualism, as each person has unique abilities. I, therefore, intend to get to know her and customize my mentorship approach for the best outcome. I hope this mentorship goes well and look forward to doing more of that”.
Amma has also founded an NGO called ‘FreeLunch Ghana’ – a reading club for children that has been running for more than three years now. FreeLunch Ghana partners with libraries in underprivileged and remote areas where it provides complimentary lunch to the kids in exchange for a one-hour reading session. The programme is for both male and female children. “I love to read and I want to inculcate the habit of reading in as many children in Ghana as possible. Thankfully, we have seen great improvement with the kids which is very encouraging, the social entrepreneur said.”
Destra Energy Group’s CSR
Destra Energy Group is working on a CSR initiative that the company hopes to implement next year. The company intends to focus its CSR initiative on women empowerment.
“We realize that our work can affect the livelihood of fisherfolk in the areas we operate and therefore we are thinking along the lines of ways to support the wives and children of the fisherfolks to get different sources of income to supplement their livelihood.”
Destra Energy Group understands the full benefits of the local content law and has been positioned to take advantage of these benefits. The company has implemented best-in-kind standards and procedures and pursues the right partnerships and opportunities to allow them to be at par with their international counterparts. The top Executive Officer noted that their company’s vision is to grow beyond being a service provider.
Speaking further, on the local content implementation, Amma identified “fronting” as one of the major challenges, local content implementation is faced with in Ghana. Expressing concern over the situation where indigenous companies existing as representatives of foreign companies, Amma said it was high time Ghanaian companies unite and appreciate the fact that “we need to learn, we need real participation in joint ventures to facilitate knowledge and technology transfer. We must insist on this so that any foreign company that approaches a local company for partnership will fully comply with the law.”
“Fortunately for Destra Energy Group, we have had partners that have worked in Africa previously and have already overcome some of these challenges and so they have a good appreciation of what the law requires and this makes it easier for us to work with them. But it has not been always the case. We have had potential partners that have proposed fronting, which does not create any real value for local companies.”
“In all, it has not been too bad. I believe we are better off as a country now than when we started in 2007. I believe if we comply with the regulations as it stands now, we will reap the advantages designed for local companies.”
“The regulator is aware of a lot of our frustrations and I have seen deliberate attempts to rectify some of these issues. Generally, there seems to be an improvement,” she observed.
Speaking further, Amma advocated for stronger collaboration and partnerships among the indigenous companies to take full advantage of the country’s local content law. According to her, indigenous companies should jettison the idea of standing in silos and pull their resources together to effectively take advantage of the various opportunities in the industry. She, said, “I think we should collaborate more. It is something that we as local companies have not really looked into. We have different strengths and may have limited resources but if we can collaborate and pull resources together, we can achieve more than we are capable of individually. Destra Energy Group has collaborated with a few like-minded companies with the same goal and it has been fantastic. “I think this is what real local content is about,” she enthused.
Written by Peace Obi and Gilbert BorketeyBoyefio