Exclusive interview with Olumuyiwa Aladejana, Country Manager, Sahara Tanzania Ltd. – a subsidiary of energy conglomerate Sahara Group.
The STL executive provides insights on Tanzania’s growing prominence in Africa’s energy sector, the need for the continent to adopt and implement uniform petroleum products standards to shore up competitiveness, and the company’s commitment to contributing to the growth and development of the energy sector in the country. Excerpts:
Q.: How would you describe the impact of the energy sector on Tanzania’s economy?
The importance of the energy sector in the Tanzanian economy cannot be overemphasized. Tanzania is strategically positioned and seen as the gateway to other East African/Central African and even some Southern African countries. Therefore, the energy requirements of those countries are dependent on Tanzania – and this has attracted substantial investment in the country’s energy sector. This portends much more potential for the energy sector to drive economic growth and development in the country.
Q.: How long has Sahara been operating in Tanzania and what have been some of your major milestones during the period?
Since the commencement of our Tanzania operations in 2015, Sahara Tanzania has expanded its infrastructure from ten loading arms and four storage tanks with a combined storage capacity of 36million litres to 20 loading arms with eight storage tanks, with a combined capacity of 72million litres. This has spurred economic development in Tanzania through enhanced availability of petroleum products.
The company has an ongoing expansion project aimed at increasing its storage capacity further to store more automotive gas oil (AGO), premium motor spirit (PMS) and JET A1. The project is expected to make Sahara Tanzania one of the largest storage terminals in the country, providing an avenue for increasing employment opportunities and economic growth in the country.
It is also important to note that our terminal is automated as part of our corporate drive for technological innovation and enhancing access to clean energy in Tanzania itself, Rwanda, Zambia, Malawi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Sahara’s market share growth in the region in general and in Tanzania in particular is remarkable, as we serve companies even in Rwanda, Zambia, Malawi, and Congo. We are proud of the progress we have registered thus far and we look forward to doing much more in Tanzania to bring energy to the lives of the good people of this unique nation.
Sahara Tanzania is equally delighted at the opportunity to support the nation’s Vision 2025 as a leading player in the oil and gas sector contributing significantly to economic growth and development in Tanzania.
We are fully committed to contributing to the achievement of this noble target through our operations in the energy sector and interventions by way of sustainable development projects in Tanzania. We commend the government’s robust policies and firmly believe that the country is on course to achieving the target and we will continue to collaborate with all stakeholders in this regard.
Q.: There has been so much conversation around clean energy globally. How is Sahara Tanzania promoting this in Tanzania?
Sahara Tanzania is an affiliate of Sahara Group, one of the foremost energy conglomerates in Africa that continue to promote the cause of clean energy globally. Drawing from this inspiration from our parent organisation, we continue to promote access to cleaner fuels – this, with a view to providing a healthier option for the Tanzanian people and economy.
We have committed to the construction of two liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanks with a total capacity of 6,000 cbm. This is a very courageous step and indeed a brave move, considering due to the current market realities.
We have also taken our campaign for the use of cleaner energy into our daily operational activities as we use eco-friendly operational cars with lower carbon emission. We are continually seeking platforms through advocacy and collaboration to lend our weight to the cause of promoting the use of cleaner fuels. This is a campaign Sahara Tanzania is 100 per cent committed to because we know that we have an obligation to secure our planet for the present and future generations.
Q.: How long have you been resident in Tanzania and what key lessons have your learned in the process of immersing yourself into how the business community operates in Tanzania?
I have been in Tanzania for two years now and it has been an insightful journey. The Tanzanian people are very welcoming and hospitable, and the same goes for the market. The energy market is welcoming, while the government has put in place policies that continue to drive growth in the sector in a sustainable manner.
The Tanzanian market further lends credence to the fact that Sahara’s commitment to innovation, consistency, determination, integrity, good corporate citizenship and customer-focused business solutions remains central to Sahara Group’s success across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
Q.: How has Sahara Tanzania fared in seeking to promote human capital development in Tanzania?
Sahara places a huge premium on transformational human capital policy that facilitates hitch-free learning and development opportunities for employees across-the-board. Accordingly, we encourage continuous learning and keep our employees nimble and agile through programmes that empower them to take on take on challenges innovatively and adapt to constantly changing business terrains to promote productivity. We have seen our people grow phenomenally both professionally and in their personal lives, and this has contributed to the successes we continue to record in Tanzania.
Sahara Tanzania’s parent organisation, Sahara Group is this year celebrating 25 years of operations as a leading energy conglomerate. How has your affiliation with the conglomerate influenced your operations in the country?
Q.: Sahara Tanzania’s parent organisation, Sahara Group is this year celebrating 25 years of operations as a leading energy conglomerate. How has your affiliation with the conglomerate influenced your operations in the country?
Firstly, we are hugely proud of this massive achievement which has been quite phenomenal for an organisation that began business as a trading company. Sahara Tanzania’s affiliation to Sahara Group has given us the foundation to excel in the Tanzanian market, as we enjoy seamless access to the knowledge, experience and ethical disposition of the foremost energy conglomerate.
We have been able to harness this knowledge as well as take advantage of the wealth of experience, and are applying these to our operations in Tanzania to achieve our objectives – in line with the demands of the uniqueness of the Tanzanian market.
Q.: How long have you been with Sahara and what would you cite as the driving force behind the orgnanisation’s success these past 25 years?
I have been with Sahara for seven amazing years and, during the period I have been here I can easily attribute the success of the organisation to the desire to do more and do it better. This is even as we are constantly pioneering ideas and remain innovative with the application of new technology in our daily activities. Sahara’s business model is focused on sustainability, and this is one of the key elements in our success.
Q.: How can the energy sector in Africa enhance capacity within the continent and make the sector more competitive in global markets?
Africa continues to play a major role in the global energy market, but it needs to do more in the aspect of shoring up intra-African transactions to grow our capacity and competitiveness. African countries need to harmonise their product specifications, as this will in turn facilitate an easy flow of products across all the continent’s regions and thus make them more competitive.
As the East African region develops, the energy sector in Tanzania will continue to grow and flourish. We believe that, with greater collaboration in the region as is already witnessed, huge growth will be witnessed.
We believe that the Tanzanian energy market will continue to thrive and become quite competitive on the continental stage and beyond. I am eagerly looking forward to a future of enhanced capacity and competitiveness on the continent, driven by intra-African investment across the energy value chain.
Q.: What level of interaction have you had with the culture, food and people of Tanzania?
I am fond of exploring and trying out new things, and it is safe to say that I have settled into Tanzania. The people are very welcoming, helpful and willing to help. There’s an impressive communal culture that is I find especially interesting and worth emulating. This cuts across the different parts of Tanzania – right from Dar es Salaam and onwards to the Lake Victoria zone regions. With the plentiful and hugely popular items on typically Tanzanian menus such as ‘ugali’ with ‘mbuzi makange’ and ‘ugali’ with ‘kisamvu’, I have my appetite fully satisfied – and all set to continue striving to serve and develop the oil and gas sector not only in Tanzania with Sahara but across Africa and well beyond.