Pablo Memba, CEO of Grupo Memba
Grupo Memba leverages a wealth of local expertise and international partnerships to help clients compete effectively in the fields of management consulting, business development, engineering services, staffing and recruiting and project management. Energy Capital & Power spoke to Pablo Memba, CEO of Grupo Memba, about the company’s activity in Equatorial Guinea.
What is the importance of developing strong local content and building skill sets for Equatoguinean companies to compete in highly competitive industries?
For Grupo Memba, local content is not just about meeting legislative requirements or ticking a box. Companies have to do it because they have a responsibility; it creates a positive social and economic impact and makes good business sense. However, since the onset of COVID-19, the international services companies and international oil companies (IOCs) can reduce project times and costs by working with local entrepreneurs. Based on that, we started to advocate for our clients and partners to use local technicians and engineers in their operations, where possible.
A strong local capacity will allow Equatorial Guinea not to depend on expatriate labor in the future. IOCs and international services companies will still be operating in the country, but Equatorial Guinea will reduce the number of expatriates working on the services side of the business. It will help to create more local businesses. However, there are some local entrepreneurs who do not know how to position themselves within the market or to set up a business. The best way for these local entrepreneurs to enter this market is by creating strategic alliances and joint ventures with international firms that will help local companies penetrate and position themselves within this dynamic industry.
What is your outlook for the domestic oil and gas sector, and how do you see Grupo Memba supporting Equatorial Guinea’s post-COVID-19 recovery?
I see the industry in Equatorial Guinea moving toward the natural gas sector. On the African continent, we are not maximizing our use of gas. For example, we use propane for cooking, but there is no distribution or pipeline of gas to houses. As a result, the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons is promoting gas utilization and distribution through the establishment of the Gas Mega Hub at Punta Europa, which will trigger other gas-related activities. The country is also now powering buses with compressed natural gas instead of gasoline. In the future, Equatorial Guinea may be the first sub-Saharan African country using more gas vehicles than diesel or gasoline.
Grupo Memba is going to play a role in this field by continuing to focus on providing services and bringing in strategic partners with whom to team up and bid on some of these projects. For example, if we are going to bid on a project, we could create a consortium in which we have 35% to 45% participation in the consortium. We are focusing on the demand side and understanding what the future will hold. The Ministry is promoting the use of gas and gas exploration, but local companies need to align on where our focus should be. We cannot miss this train because it is about to take off.
What is your vision for Grupo Memba in Equatorial Guinea in the years ahead?
I would like to see the number of small- and mid-sized companies increase and for IOCs to use 50-70% local service providers. This will create more jobs in Equatorial Guinea and put more money in the pockets of the people. It will also stimulate technology transfer, know-how and create more local business. This is very important because in 10 to 20 years, after the oil and gas industry starts to slow down, we don’t want to think that we missed the train or should have done things differently. In terms of service providers, it is not just about providing direct services, but also trickle-down services like catering, cleaning and hospitality. Once you have a booming industry like oil and gas, then you can create more sectors for new industries.