The second PetroForum Africa will take place at the Vineyard Hotel, Cape Town, 4-6 March 2013, following its successful inauguration in 2011. Organised by OpenRoom Events, its gold sponsor is Gilbarco Veeder-Root, silver sponsors include Bever Innovations and First African Holdings and the official oil company partner is Engen, which will be sending a delegation to the event from its national and international procurement and engineering teams.

Fuel giants to talk

Fuel retailers from across Africa are set to meet with industry suppliers from across the globe for two days of conference and business meetings to discuss issues facing African fuel retailers and some of the newest trends and technologies. Joining Engen are NNPC, Petromoc, Mozambique, Puma Energy, Sasol, Acorn Oil, Total Afrique Moyen Orient, Libya Oil Sudan, Petro Gabon, Jade Petroleum, BP Southern Africa, Allied Oil, Vivo Energy, Chevron, Nock, YB Petroleum, Shell South Africa, Sovereign Oil & Caltex Eastern Cape.

Africa offers business opportunities

Africa has become an important focus for the rest of the world. With its abundance of natural resources and an emerging middleclass, which is more tech-savvy, educated and exposed to opportunities than ever before, the continent is high on the agenda for any global company’s business development plans. With the emergence of the CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, South Africa) group of economies, many investors are turning to South Africa as an important hub for the continent.

Interest in Africa’s business opportunities has increased exponentially and the retail petroleum industry is one sector well ahead in recognising the importance of the region. However, harnessing the value of the continent is not without its challenges. Africa is a vast area consisting of 54 countries, with complexities in language, culture, varying degrees of economic advancement and seemingly endless political uncertainty, so for any company looking to do business in the region, there is much to consider.

International sponsors see opportunities

Stephen Richards, Gilbarco Veeder-Root’s Middle East and Africa MD says, “Africa continues to represent a significant growth opportunity within the retail petroleum industry and the group is at the forefront in this region, offering best in class product solutions and service support.”

Jeannot Bruggeling, Bever’s director of international projects has revealed that it has a particular interest in the continent. With Africa’s population of 1 billion set to double by 2050, the region needs to prepare for massive pressure on the infrastructure. In South Africa alone, the population has grown by 5 million in the last 10 years, bringing with it a hugely increased need for energy (currently, the demand for electricity outstrips supply, with energy providers having to shut down areas for periods during the day to avoid network overload). So the focus of governments and energy providers has had to shift from energy production to energy saving – and the oil industry is one of the frontrunners in this initiative.

For Bever Innovations, these are encouraging developments. With light being one of the biggest consumers of energy (particularly in petrol stations), its expertise in LED light (which uses 50-80% less energy than conventional lights) will be of particular interest to any company wishing to implement efficient, energy saving programs. The company has noted that even oil companies in areas such as the Ivory Coast, Malawi, Burundi and Uganda, who are renovating or rebuilding petrol stations have all been adopting LED lighting from the start. The company predicts that within 5-10 years, all conventional lighting will be replaced with LED lighting, creating huge opportunities for companies such as it.

African expertise for continent

Historically African countries have done more business with those from outside the continent than with each other, so it has been encouraging to see South African company, First African Holdings, take on the second silver partnership.

Wynand van Zyl, First African Holdings’ MD revealed that in the signage corner of the market, things have been busy. Caltex has rebranded 80 sites in South Africa during the past year; Oando has just developed a new retail image; Ghana Oil introduced a new image earlier this year; Sonangol in Angola is still expanding its retail network and Engen has been rebranding sites in Zambia, Malawi, and Mauritius, all illustrating healthy growth in the African sector.

Oil companies too are focussing on African business opportunities. Engen is already well established, operating over 1200 petrol stations and 600 convenience centres in South Africa and over 500 sites across 20 sub-Saharan countries. Pierr Roodt, national marketing manager said, “The company is delighted to be associated with the next PetroForum Africa as its official oil company partner. We are especially pleased that the 2013 event will be held in South Africa and are sure the combination of location and event program will attract a wide range of oil companies from across the African continent.”

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