The adoption of unified standards across Africa will create a bigger and more effective regional market that will enhance the continent’s competitive positioning in global energy markets, Tope Shonubi, Executive Director, Sahara Group has told stakeholders at the African Refiners Association (ARA) meeting in Cape Town.
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Shonubi said the existence of a fragmented petroleum products market with different product specifications, sulphur content and emission requirements remains a huge stumbling block to accessing the benefits that can accrue from intra-regional trade in the sector.
“Adoption of similar specifications and standards has been achieved across Europe and most of North America creating a single larger market for petroleum trade. While gasoil specifications remain fragmented across Africa, jet fuel specifications are almost completely unified across the world. This similarity has improved the ease of trading jet fuel across borders, ensured access to a wider market and enhanced competitiveness in the aviation industry,” he said.
Shonubi urged all stakeholders to embrace the AFRI-4 standards which were the outcome of a partnership between ARA and the World Bank to promote the adoption of a single standard for cleaner fuels.
According to him, “the adoption of the Afri-4 Specifications will guarantee unified product standard across the region, ease of intraregional petroleum product trade, reduction in bulk transportation costs and optimization of regional infrastructure. This will ultimately make Africa a more influential economic block”
He added that unified standards would de-fragment African markets resulting in favourable economies of scale in intraregional trade, regional harmonization of taxes and excise duties, reduction in smuggling and adulteration of products, improved local refining capacity, reduced landing costs of petroleum products, joint infrastructure projects as well as export diversification and access to a larger customer base.
Shonubi said Africa must accord the prospects of intra-regional trade the urgency it deserves to ensure accelerated economic development. “In line with the vision of a harmonized Africa, Sahara Group is building an integrated energy business across Middle Africa to harness the potential of intra-regional trade. We are delighted to be one of the first African companies to carry out full cycle crude and product trade transactions using only African resources within the continent. All transactions were carried out by Africans for Africans using African resources. The future of our business depends on how well we can work together across Africa.”
He concluded by urging ARA members and other stakeholders in Africa’s energy sector to work towards developing a competitive African Brand. “Africa countries cannot hope to shape globalization or even retain marginal relevance individually. It is only by working together that we have the weigh to influence the big picture.”