Somalia is racing to staff up its fledgling oil bureaucracy to manage suitor interest ahead of concluding an offshore bidding round, the country's first major international licensing exercise to be conducted in several decades.
The Somali Petroleum Authority (SPA) on Wednesday appointed six independent directors to its board, each representing a Somali component state with another representing the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS).
The appointments follow the recent accession of Ibrahim Ali Hussein as SPA chairman and chief executive.
Board members include Asha Osman Ahmed as vice chair, representing Banadir Regional Authority, Ibrahim Ahmed Layte representing Hirshabelle, Abdulkadir Aden Mohamud representing Galmudug, Ibrahim Abdulkadir Mohamed representing South West State.
The remainder include Ahmed Haji Abdi representing Jubbaland State, Abdihafid Ali Dirir representing the unrecognised secessionist state of Somaliland and Mahad Mohamed Hassan representing the Federal Government.
The new board is charged with promoting a “sustainable oil and gas industry (and) ensuring that the regulatory and fiscal regime being developed will apply the principles of equality, openness, accountability, transparency and non-discrimination in the interests of all the Somali people,” according to a statement.
Hussein said “the board’s structure will ensure that all member states are able to help shape the development of the industry… and attract international investment to maximise economic recovery and oil and gas reserves.”
Somalia is keen to have all administrative facilities ahead of concluding its first offshore licensing round, an exercise mired in confusion with officials from several member states refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of the exercise.
Nonetheless, the Horn of Africa nation expects to close applications for the seven-block auction in March, according to Hussein.