Mauritania rising: A new perspective for tackling the local content gap

Invest in Africa Mauritania is a not-for-profit led initiative focused on growing local businesses by providing greater access to markets, skills and finance. In Mauritania it is helping SMEs take up the opportunities as the energy sector expands.

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Image : Faraz

As a country with 100 trillion cubic feet of gas lying below the soil, representing 25 years of global consumption, according to Abdessalem Ould Mohamed Saleh, the Minister of Petroleum, Energy and Mines, Mauritania is attaining critical importance in these tumultuous times of energy crisis. The government will be able to deliver positive economic impacts and create jobs that benefit all stakeholders. 

Regarding the extractives sector in Mauritania, there is a strong need to boost understanding and awareness amongst local businesses. As one CEO put it, “How can I compete to work with a multinational if I don’t even hear what opportunities, either jobs, tenders or trainings are available? It feels like I am playing a game, but I don’t know the rules. What an utterly frustrating situation.”

At Invest in Africa Mauritania (IIA-M), we are proud to be contributing to creating a level playing field for Mauritanian SMEs to compete, scale up and expand. We are creating an informed dialogue with potential future local suppliers about what it takes to be industry ready and the opportunities to diversify that this represents.

Information is being disseminated in Arabic, French and English, and not only in Nouakchott. Through a range of activities, IIA-M is providing understanding on minimum standards across sectors such as compliance, ethics, EHS, ABC, human rights, financials and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – why they exist, the diversification opportunities and sourcing processes – as well as introducing a capacity and capability support tool to help companies attain them. 

Supporting the transition to zero carbon

Mauritania is ahead of the curve having already secured $43.5bn in foreign direct investment into carbon neutral fuel with a pair of memoranda of understandings recently signed. 

As the IEA’s Africa Energy Outlook 2022 highlights, “green hydrogen has four advantages: zero footprint, scalability, cost-efficiency from modular deployment technologies and resilience against reserve depletion/ climate impacts. Originating from seawater these multi-gigawatt arrays of solar and wind, green hydrogen has every chance of surpassing liquefied natural gas (LNG) as the fuel source of the future”. Mauritania has an opportunity to leapfrog, and the government is strongly committed to linking the vision to reality on the ground. 

Energy access is fundamental for development, improved health, and environmental stability outcomes. Renewables will need local suppliers and the SDGs have given the private sector a workable framework to align strategic business and commercial priorities to unlock access to green transition, growth, jobs, and opportunities.

IIA-M is developing with public and private sector support a coordinated, cost-effective and efficient way of fulfilling local content requirements. We are proud to assist Mauritanian SMEs in gaining access to skills, contracts and finance to build long-term capacity for the country. With the African Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) converting Africa’s 54 markets into a tariff-free trading block worth over $3 trillion, the opportunity for quality home-grown Mauritanian businesses will only increase – a win-win situation!

Bocar-Alpha Ba is Country Manager, Mauritania at Invest In Africa.

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