This sector will be so important to Africa in the coming decades that “you can’t even quantify it”, said Noel, founder of Acumum Legal & Advisory in Malta.
Noel’s award-winning firms assist a variety of businesses and high net-worth individuals, providing a bridge between Africa and Europe, and offering specialist energy expertise.
“We have African oil and gas companies as clients, as well as renewable energy clients in the EU,” she said. “We look after both sides of the coin – set up structures in a tax efficient manner, set up contracts and sort out transactional documents – particularly so that financing can be deployed downwards into the African company which is operational on the ground.”
It’s clear the tension between the growing demand for energy across Africa and managing environmental concerns is going to be a huge test for business and government, said Noel. “Corporate Social Responsibility and the obligation, the duty, of these companies to the environment and climate change is going to be the number one challenge, I think.”
The future of the energy sector may entail both an increase in development and use of renewables, and harnessing technology to make fossil fuels cleaner and more efficient. Noel believes there will be many, varied opportunities for African businesses in the energy sector even as the world grapples with the challenge of climate change.
Having served as company secretary for African oil and gas companies, Noel has recently been accepted into a special programme run by the North Sea Energy Law Partnership (a collaboration of four leading European universities) where she will research sustainability and “how we can achieve our climate aims while also meeting our requirements for energy”.
As the demand for energy increases across Africa, there will be many spinoff and convergent businesses and industries which can assist with safer and more sustainable practices.
“We have clients that provide services to the energy industry for surveying, health and safety, and the training and deployment of technology to assist safety practices,” said Noel. “For instance, the deployment of robots to analyse pipes at offshore installations, ensuring there are no breaches and making sure repairs are done before tragedies or spills occur.”
Headquartered in Malta, and with strong expertise in the energy sector, as well as corporate and tax advisory and other legal and business matters, Acumum is ideally placed to assist African energy businesses that have an international outlook. As a member of both the Commonwealth and the EU, Malta is a great bridge between Africa and Europe, commented Noel.
“We can assist with creating a structure that’s attractive to investors,” said Noel. “Some investors can be scared off from investing directly into an African jurisdiction, but by having a Maltese holding company, based in Europe, it gives comfort to investors both in terms of the security of their investment, and going to market and listing on a stock exchange.”
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