Amy Jadesimi

Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics base (LADOL) is an industrial village currently under development in Lagos’s Freezone area, where companies enjoy benefits such as zero corporate tax.

The project – the single largest capacity development project in Nigeria in the private sector in Nigeria sector since oil and gas development begunstarted, according to its developers – began was founded in 2011 when LADOL joined forces with Samsung Heavy Industries to build West Africa’s largest vessel integration and fabrication facility. This phase of the project is set to be completed this year and the first to use its facilities will be Total’s Egina field.

LADOL, a 100% privately owned Nigerian company, was established by Jadesimi’s father, Ladi Jadesimi. Its goal, Jadesimi, who features in Forbes 2014 youngest power women in Africa list, says the project’s goal, is not only to make money for its shareholders, but to boloster the benefits of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry for Nigerians; something that has been missing from the country’s 50 year oil and gas history.

In the second phase of the projects development, along with Samsung and other international companies, LADOL will train Nigerians – some 50,000 of them – in a new training school to develop the human capital needed to facilitate the base and the services it will offer.

Heidi Vella-Starr: You describe LADOL as a game changer for Nigeria, why do you believe this is sois that?

Dr Amy Jadesimi: This is a game changer. Not only in terms of the stimulation it is going to have by increasing the fabrication market within Nigeria probably three or four fold, but also because it signals a change in the way oil and gas activities happen in Nigeria.

Local content [participation] in Nigeria, for various reasons, has been very low – between 10-15% for the past 50 decades. Since the passing of the Local Content Act in 2010 we have been looking for a way to make a huge impact. The reason we have chosen to go into this area is not only because of the return that the shareholders are going to enjoy, but also because this speaks to our mission of developing strategic infrastructure.

If you have a large project, large in terms of scale and budget that needs to be done in West Africa LADOL has the infrastructure to manage it. We have human capital to make sure those projects can be done efficiently and economically, and we have the technology to give you the safety you need and to lower your cost of operations in West Africa, which is a huge focus right now in a $50 oil price world.

HVS: Has the reduction in oil price affected the project?

AJ: It has actually made the project even more important. This project is about giving Nigeria capacity to participate in the oil and gas industry beyond just being a crude exporter or a gas exporter. In a situation where the oil price is over $100 [a barrel] people don’t really think about diversification; they don’t think about job creation in the same way. Because the oil price has fallen, the focus of the government and the oil companies on making sure projects like this succeed has quadrupled.

HVS: How do you think the oil price has affected the Nigerian oil industry as a whole?

AJ: In Nigeria already, if you look at our December trade balance; yes, our exports decreased by 5% – a direct result of the oil price – but our imports decreased by 10%. The correction of the oil price is already driving Nigerians to look to Nigeria for goods and serves, to look to invest in Nigeria. So now, instead of turning your naira into dollars and taking it offshore, you are going to invest your naira in the ccountry.

African oil and gas hotspots are becoming increasingly attractive to global investors and exploration companies.

Despite the fallen oil price Total has confirmed it is not going to cutbackcut back its investments into Egina. We are expecting Shell to also continue with the Bonga South West project.

HVS: How does LADOL help retain value from projects such as Egina and Bonga?

JA: Typically, what would happen if LADOL wasn’t there is that Shell would do Bonga South West and 90% of the work would be done offshore and then you’d have an FSPO parked in the middle of the ocean with barely any impact on our economy. The fact that companies like Shell are going into the deep offshore makes it essential that we have more facilities like LADOL, because if we don’t we will see even less benefit from oil and gas than we have seen in the past.

HVS: Is LADOL a symbol of the future of indigenous Nigerian investment?

JA: We found as we were developing the Freezone it was really only Nigerians that had the appetite for thate type of long term investment.

Part of the significance of the investment is it is 100% private. Not only private, but 100% Nigerian, which is the key to releasing Nigeria’s potential. A lot of people have wondered over the years why a country like Nigeria hasn’t joined the G20. LADOL’s hypothesis is this is because Nigeria didn’t have Nigerians taking ownership of Nigeria,Nigeria; we didn’t have Nigerians investing in Nigeria’s future. Now that is happening.

HVS: Is corruption in Nigeria still a major investor risk?

JA: When I was growing up I never wanted to have anything to do with oil and gas because I always thought it was too corrupt and a nasty industry. I still have my reservations about the oil and gas industry across the world. However, what I do is, rather than focus on corruption and whether someone is good or bad, I just focus on the bottom line. I focus on the fundamentals.

If people like myself can move back to Nigeria, if we can set up a company like LADOL, which is totally apolitical; it demonstrates that Nigeria is not a corrupt and inaccessible country. Nigeria is the land of opportunity; the message is you need to be clear on your objective and willing to invest and to be on the ground, and you will be able to do business the way you want to do it. You don’t have to take the easy route, which a lot of foreign companies have done in the past.

HVS: What can other West African countries learn from Nigeria’s oil and gas industry?

"Coming in as a black woman you are going to get peoples’ attention."

JA: If other African countries come to Nigeria the first thing they can learn now is the value that local content can bring if it is matched with private indigenous investment.

I think a facility like LADOL can service West African countries; we are talking about Nigeria becoming the hub for fabrication and integration, engineering, upstream development; we are talking about exporting equipment and ships from Nigeria to West African countries. Even West African countries that have the largest reserves will find it difficult to justify, or to generate, the level of internal investment that Nigeria has, so it will be difficult for them to build certain facilities.

We are reaching out to neighbouring countries, to Ghana, discussing with them the facilities it makes sense for them to build in Ghana and the facilities it makes sense for them to share in Nigeria.

HVS: You’re a female MD in a very male-dominated industry, has it been a challenge?

AJ: There is a recognition that diversity leads to an economic benefit. Education of women, hiring of women, promoting women increases a company’s bottom line and a country’ies GDP.

So, on the one hand I have seen an increasing amount of support. But on the other hand, I am in an industry, and LADOL plots across a lot of different industries -agriculture, oil and gas, telecoms – in those big industries, when you are talking about multi-billion dollar projects, you are overwhelmingly surrounded by white men.

Coming in as a black womaen you are going to get peoples’ attention, and very, very rarely – it does happen – the negotiation goes south just because I am dealing with somebody who is just not comfortable talking to a womaen, let alone a black womaen, at this level. Maybe once in five years it has happened. But even that is getting rarer.

HVS: What advice would do you have for other women entering management in male dominated industries?

AJ: My advice to anybody, but women in particular;, is take your time to figure out what you want to do and then put all your time and energy into doing it; . Wwhether that is having a career, not having a career, being in business, being in banking or, being in non-profit. I. If you are a women, there aren’t going to be many positive examples, there may well be a lot of people who say you can’t do it or have negative ideas, not because of any personal animosity towards you, but just because they are not used to it.

If you are women and you are going into a field where there aren’t any other women around you need to be really clear on your vision and you need to be really sure of yourself and stick to it. You are not going to have that many people who are able to encourage you because what you are doing is out of their realm of experience.