Since large-scale oil and gas discoveries were made in the offshore waters of Senegal and Mauritania between 2014 and 2017, the entire MSGBC region-including Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea Conakry, and Guinea Bissau-has received increasing interest from the international investor community.
There are several reasons why the MSGBC region is uniquely positioned to compete for new foreign direct investment (FDI), not only in the booming oil and gas sector, but also in others, including renewable energy, mining, fishing, agriculture, tourism and services.
OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION
In 2014, the oil and gas industry experienced a downturn and global crude oil prices fell sharply - and then more recently, the industry was again impacted by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. But in the midst of these challenges, the MSGBC countries have been an exception. According to seismic and geophysical mapping company TGS: "The MSGBC Basin has been the shining light of African exploration through the recent darkness that the industry has endured. This light, or rather spotlight, has been cast on the region through the recent world-class discoveries in Senegal and Mauritania. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
These major exploration successes in the offshore waters of Senegal and Mauritania have served as a catalyst for interest and have led to a growing number of countries conducting seismic and E&P activities, particularly The Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Guinea Conakry. TGS has been active in the MSGBC basin since 2010, when they acquired a 3D dataset in The Gambia. Since then, their activity has grown considerably; TGS is currently conducting the Gambito 2020 3D seismic survey in the MSGBC basin offshore The Gambia. The acquisition of TGS is the latest development in The Gambia's drive to explore offshore resources and build a significant energy economy. In addition, last year the government signed a contract with supermajor BP to explore for oil and gas off its coast. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
Other countries in the MSGBC region, such as Guinea-Conakry, are also seeking to develop the potential of their natural resources. For example, the creation of the Ministry of Hydrocarbons is part of a strong government focus on hydrocarbon development. The Office National des Pétroles de Guinée-Conakry is responsible for supporting the Ministry's strategy by providing technical expertise on upstream and downstream operations. Guinea-Bissau is also actively pursuing new E&P activities on a number of offshore blocks that are operated by companies such as CNOOC and other medium-sized IOCs in partnership with the national oil company Petroguin E&P. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
In addition to leading the MSGBC basin countries in hydrocarbon development, Senegal has also established itself as a beacon in the development of ambitious renewable energy projects. Photovoltaic and wind power projects are contributing significantly to the diversification of Senegal's energy mix and up to 30% of the country's electricity is now generated from renewable energy sources. Flagship projects include the Taiba N'Diaye wind power plant operated by Lekela Power. The project is designed to produce electricity for at least 20 years from its 46 wind turbines.
There are also excellent opportunities to undertake renewable energy projects in Guinea-Bissau, Guinea-Conakry and The Gambia. For example, The Gambia recently unveiled a €2.7 million project called Renewable Energy Potentials in The Gambia (REPGam). The initiative is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Guinea-Bissau is also particularly promising for investment in solar power plants and hydroelectric power generation projects. Recently, China's Sinohydro began construction of one of the country's first large-scale solar power plants to sell electricity to the national utility EAGB under a long-term contract that will triple the national utility's power generation capacity.
CONTINUED IMPROVEMENT IN THE INVESTMENT CLIMATE
In recent years, all the countries in the MSGBC basin have climbed up the global rankings due to continued improvement in their business climates according to institutions such as the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business, Transparency International, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, and The Heritage Foundation. Senegal topped the ranking with 123 out of 190 countries, followed by Mauritania at 153, Gambia at 155, Guinea-Conakry at 156 and Guinea-Bissau at 174. While there is room for improvement, as with any emerging market economy, the overall trend is positive and these countries are working steadily with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, development partners and the international donor community to continue to strengthen institutions and promote greater transparency in each country.
POLITICAL STABILITY AND SECURITY
Unlike many countries in the Sahel region that have fairly constant security problems caused by extremist groups, or others in Central Africa and the Great Lakes region, the MSGBC countries as a whole enjoy a high degree of political stability and the absence of civil wars or major armed insurgencies. Security and stability are of paramount importance to international investors.
Countries like Senegal, in particular, play a strategic role as a buffer zone to what security analysts generally refer to as the "arc of instability" that stretches across large parts of the Sahel and some North African countries.
To this day, Senegal continues to have agreements with several European and NATO countries that have military advisors in the country and help train Senegalese troops and security personnel. In turn, Senegalese soldiers regularly contribute to United Nations peacekeeping missions at the regional and international levels, and are considered among the best-trained and most professional soldiers in all of sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, many MSGBC capitals such as Dakar, Banjul, and Nouakchott have very low levels of violent crime due to a strong police presence that serves as a powerful deterrent to criminals. Finally, the MSGBC countries have a strong democratic tradition where peaceful transfers of power are the norm, not the exception.
The discovery of oil and gas and the development of the petroleum sector currently underway in the MSGBC countries is a whole new sector. But long before its advent, many of these countries had well-developed industries such as bauxite mining in Guinea-Bissau, or gold, nickel and phosphate exploration in Senegal and Mauritania. The Gambia and Senegal are full of attractive tourist attractions on the beautiful beaches of their Atlantic coastline. There are many upscale and more affordable accommodation options to experience the varied and vibrant cultural heritage and gastronomy of cities such as Dakar, Banjul, Nouakchott, Conakry and Bissau. Therefore, while much of the new FDI in the MSGBC region is currently focused on oil, gas, and renewable energy projects; potential investors can also contribute to the economic diversification strategies underway in each of these countries and find world-class partners in a wide range of industries like tourism. For those interested in adventure travel and unique experiences, desert safaris and camel rides await in Mauritania. The pink lake of Senegal, the colonial architecture of Saint Louis or the cruises on the river Podor are remarkable for their natural beauty and the unique biodiversity of these countries. No matter how the energy sector evolves in the near future, the hospitality and warmth of the people of the MSGBC region will continue to be a major attraction for years to come. For those interested in adventure travel and unique experiences; desert safaris and camel rides await in Mauritania. The pink lake of Senegal, the colonial architecture of Saint Louis or the cruises on the river Podor are remarkable for their natural beauty and the unique biodiversity of these countries. No matter how the energy sector evolves in the near future, the hospitality and warmth of the people of the MSGBC region will continue to be a major attraction for years to come. For those interested in adventure travel and unique experiences; desert safaris and camel rides await in Mauritania. The pink lake of Senegal, the colonial architecture of Saint Louis or the cruises on the river Podor are remarkable for their natural beauty and the unique biodiversity of these countries. No matter how the energy sector evolves in the near future, the hospitality and warmth of the people of the MSGBC region will continue to be a major attraction for years to come.