The African oil and gas industry has experienced a dramatic scale of changes in recent times. In this exclusive interview with African Leadership Magazine, David Jones Mensah, Managing Director, Dominion International Petroleum Limited (DIPL), a subsidiary of the Sidalco Group of Companies, shares his contributions to the growth of the sector as well as the story behind his passion for empowering the African youth. Excerpts:
- You have contributed immensely to the growth of the Oil and Gas Industry in Ghana; can you tell us more about your entrepreneurial journey?
My proficiency in problem-solving from a very early age influences my drive for entrepreneurship, this ability coupled with my love for the ‘Oil & Gas’ sector is what drives me daily. After the fall in oil prices, I and my very able DIPL team have been focused on reshaping the vision and sustainability of the company. We found ourselves in an increasingly competitive market with unstable industry policies both locally and internationally. As a result of the turbulence in the industry, we had to sidestep the competition and offer products and services tailored to meet the needs of our clients.
- Africa’s population with a commensurate growth in employment or favourable entrepreneurship climate; how were you able to build a successful business at a very young age?
I have always viewed my age as an immense opportunity. My personal mantra is to persevere regardless of the situation. I also believe that my generation has the change agents Africa needs to introduce cutting-edge solutions to the pressing problems facing our continent today. There is a growing global recognition of youth inclusion, predominantly in Africa, and this is challenging the status quo of the African mentality. Our continent is going through the process of exploiting the full potential of an ever-growing youthful population which will contribute to poverty reduction, sustainable development, and ultimately the positive transformation of our African continent.
- How does Dominion International Petroleum Ltd differ from its competitors?
The core of our business is the distribution of energy. The combination of our expertise and our presence in markets enables us to identify the best solutions for our clients. Our operational efficiency and reliability create an enabling business environment to meet our customers’ needs at any given time. Furthermore, another key competitive edge is our strong risk department, which takes a measured and conservative approach to risk management. Our unique ownership model coupled with our strong liquidity and risk management discipline gives us a strong and stable financial base. Our business is built upon long-standing relationships with industry players and customers. We have also recently undertaken the memory tree initiative as part of our CSR to plant over 1,000 trees annually to reduce our carbon footprint.
- As a wholly owned Ghanaian company, please share with us some of the successes of DIPL and what are your long-term goals as an organization?
DIPL was the tenth licensed bulk distribution oil company in Ghana and was the first BDC in Ghana to start operations by importing a full cargo of 28,000 metric tonnes of gasoline and 32,000 metric tonnes of gasoil to sell. DIPL has been ranked by the NPA as one of the leading Bulk Distribution Oil Companies in the country. We have an expanding downstream sector presence which continues to grow both organically and through strategic acquisitions to complement the broader business plan.
We have procured 16.7 acres of land in Tema to construct our storage farm and loading gantry, and consultants are in the design stages of this project to put up one of the largest automated storage facilities in the country. Our long-term goal is to be the preferred Bulk Distribution Oil Company in West Africa.
- Dominion International Petroleum Ltd is a major player in the downstream sector in Ghana and it is surprisingly being run by a young group of resourceful individuals, what is the motivation behind investing in youth?
We take a long-term outlook in relation to business sustainability and a core ingredient in achieving this goal is to invest in an energetic and resourceful team. DIPL’s investment in the youth is not only because they are young, my team are not only young but they have a proven track record in the energy sector and have taken a collaborative approach with customers and partners to identify and implement optimal solutions. We invest in long-term partnerships and understand that the commercial context can vary over time. As I said earlier, I strongly believe that the youth are able to deliver cutting-edge solutions to problems, and in this industry, besides expertise, being able to react quickly to changes and come up with solutions to serve our clients is our main motivation and priority.
- Some of the challenges faced in the Oil & Gas sector in Africa is the lack of the political will by governments to encourage local content and participation, can you tell us how this trend can be reversed?
The best approach to encouraging local content and participation in the Oil & Gas sector is by creating awareness at different levels. It is very important to engage individuals at the household, community and policy levels in order to influence our policy keepers and enable them to to understand their role as the gatekeepers of our natural resources. Policies formulated in the right direction aims to, among others, attract increased local value-added investments, create more job opportunities and indigenous knowledge, expertise and technology in the oil and gas sector. However, it must be structured in a manner that does not negatively vary the interest of existing foreign direct investments in the petroleum sector.
- How do you feel as a nominee of the African Leadership Oil & Gas Young Business Leader of the Year Award?
I am humbled and honoured by this high distinction conferred on me by your esteemed organization.