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‘Why Africa needs fiscal, regulatory harmony in petroleum sector’

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Stakeholders in the oil and gas sector, especially under the umbrella of African Refiners and Distributors Association (ARDA) have said fiscal and regulatory harmony across Africa remained critical enabler of the full potential African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), expected to unlock Intra-African trade.
  
The experts also called for a long-term commitment as well as uniform regulatory standards and enforcement to ensure that the gains of AfCTA become a reality across the continent.
  
Executive Secretary of ARDA, Anibor Kragha insisted that without urgently taking steps towards the implementation of harmonised fuel specifications, substandard petroleum products, which may leave health burden, might become the case on the continent.
 
While one-in-two people born in the world between now and 2040 are projected to be African, making the continent the world’s most populous region by 2023 and overtaking China and India, there are indications that the continent would become a game-changer in energy demand.
 

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AfCTA, which came into force earlier this year to accelerate intra-African trade while boosting Africa’s trading position in the global market is being seen as a strategic enabler for the downstream sector of the petroleum industry on the continent, but prevailing challenges could bedevil the potentials.
  
Some of the challenges, Kragha said included the lack of harmonisation in key regulatory, specifications, pricing, tariff, taxation, subsidies as well as enforcement.
  
With these bottlenecks, Kragha said smuggling, fuel adulteration, pollution, vehicle damage, stunted investment, segregated supply chains as well as higher prices to end consumer may become the order of the day.
 He said: “Many countries have tightened specifications over past decade but there has been little coordination between countries. Major exception is East African Community (EAC), which now has uniform specifications.
 
“Lax diesel sulphur specifications is a major challenge in West Africa – even if delivered quality is far superior to official specs.”

According to him, Dangote refinery output, expected to adopt Euro V (compliant) will transform landscape; adding that there are still rooms for economic, regional refinery projects.

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AfCFTAAnibor KraghaARDA
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