Structure needed before Kenya begins oil exploration - CNBC Africa

Structure needed before Kenya begins oil exploration

East Africa

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An operating rig during oil exploration. PHOTO: Getty Images

“We’re not reinventing the wheel. We have a lot of examples to learn from. I believe that the likes of Norway a good example that we could look at in the way we manage our oil. The management of that sector is very key to our development and future,” NSE Securities business development manager Samuel Gichohi told CNBC Africa.

Ensuring that Kenyans get their share from the proceeds of the new oil discovery is expected to soon become a priority for government as well as potential investors and beneficiaries.

“I think there’s going to be a rush. There’s going to be a lot of foreign direct investment going into that area. It’s not just for the oil, it’s for whatever other services that will support that sector going forward,” Gichohi added.

Potential sectors that could benefit from Kenya’s oil discovery include the electricity sector and manufacturing sectors, which will be necessary for operation.

The retail sector could also benefit, as businesses are likely to take the opportunity to set up shop near the oil exploration parameter.

Employment could also be on the upswing as a result of the new demand for labour.

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“[It’s very important] to make sure that even the land policy around there is very well taken care of,” Gichohi explained.

Last year, Tullow Oil had to shut down for roughly two weeks as locals demonstrated over the fact that the oil company had not employed enough Kenyans on one of their projects in the country.

The year 2013 also saw significant government involvement in the industry through the introduction of royalty rates in the mining industry.

“I think it was a good thing, to make sure that we didn’t have speculators who would go and hold [oil] blocks and not do anything. The government has a lot to gain from that. It’s a good thing that it’s happening sooner rather than later. In most of the other countries, the oil was found and the locals came to realise that they were short-changed much later in the picture,” said Gichohi.

He added that the new laws and policies in the pipeline will therefore significantly help locals have a voice and give them the opportunity to benefit from the discovery.

“[With] the land policy, it’s very important to make sure that people don’t start going and buying pieces of land there and holding it for speculation purposes.  There’s a lot that the government needs to do,” Gichohi added.

“They need to make sure that they do it right from the word 'go' rather than the knee-jerk reactions we’ve seen with our governments and the delayed responses to such issues.” 

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