By Ngozi Egenuka

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum and Energy in Gambia, Mrs Rohie Bittaye-Darboe has urged African countries to explore intergration of infrastructure, resources and capacity utilisation in the region’s oil and gas industry to facilitate progress, improvement of lives and development of the Continent.

Bittaye-Darboe said that opportunities abound in regional integration, adding that African countries need to overcome some cross border barriers to collaborate and be innovative in tackling the issues of human capacity development and utilisation in order to sustain the production of oil and gas in the region.

She said, “For instance, if you need something and Nigeria has it, why not go to Nigeria instead of reaching out to Europe which should be more costly. We need to start looking inward for capacities and capabilities.”

Speaking further, Bittaye-Darboe explained that the discovery of gas in Senegal and Mauritania would certainly help Gambia’s energy sector. According to her, Gambia has some energy projects with international organisations which she said are expected to improve the country’s power generation, transmission and distribution. She explained that Gambia is presently buying energy from Sengal.

The Permanent Secretary who noted that though Gambia is at the exploration stage in her oil and gas discovery, noted that the country is putting structures in place to enable them learn from the successes and failures of other African countries.

She enjoined policymakers in the region  to ensure that policies implemented in the oil and gas sector favour the poor section of the society above.

“Our policies should favour the common man – people who are poor, the ones with dry lips, torn clothes and no shoes. Whatever we do in the petroleum sector should benefit them, evidently.”

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Chairman, Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN), Mr Bank Anthony Okoroafor, stated that, “WAIPEC is designed to showcase the available opportunities in the West Africa Oil and Gas industry and present a platform to discuss how to unlock these opportunities.

“The theme for this year’s conferences and the exhibition is , “Innovation – Sustaining Sub-Suharan Oil and Gas Production through Innovation and Collaboration”, is very apt in the light of the dynamic and volatile industry environment we are currently operating.”

Continuing, Okoroafor added that, “Innovation is crucial to the continuing success of any organisation or industry. As an industry, we need to brainstorm on how we adapt Artificial Intelligence to the things we do so that the rest of the world will not leave us behind.”

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