Executive Interviews

H.E. Fafa J Sanyang, Honorable Minister for Petroleum and Energy Ministry of Petroleum, The Gambia

September 2017

How did you come to be in the oil and gas industry?

In a way, I can say that I have been involved in the industry throughout my career. In the 80s, the geological unit was involved in oil and gas amongst other things.
From high school in 1981 I became a geological assistant, then moved through the ranks as geologist, senior geologist, Chief Geologist during which time the Geological Unit was converted into a Directorate. 
I then became the Director of Geology. In 2006, I was made Commissioner of Petroleum which had the mandate to handle all oil and gas permits and licenses. I progressed along to the level of Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy and am now the Minister for Petroleum and Energy.

Aside from low commodity prices what do you believe is the greatest challenge to our industry’s future growth?

The greatest challenge is attracting investment in frontier exploration offshore and onshore and building capacity especially at a national level. 

If you could wave a magic wand over our industry, what would you change and why?

(laughs) I would definitely change the oil price and make it more profitable in order to attract more investment in our oil blocks.

How do you see the Gambian oil and gas industry evolving over the next 5 years?

I predict a very big change as Gambia has returned to an era of investment confidence with the new government’s dispensation. We even call it New Gambia. We hope to attract the right partners to drill and make major discoveries that will attract talent in the diaspora and encourage even more diaspora repatriation and investment. 

Looking towards the future, what are the main priorities for the Gambian Ministry of Petroleum?

While progressing on exploratory drilling, we look forward to greater institutional and infrastructural development, the development of adequate policies and capacity development.

What is your proudest work-related achievement to date?

My contribution towards developing the oil and gas sector of this country and bringing it to the level that it is. The Gambia National Petroleum Corporation got on its feet during my time as Commissioner, there has been increased data acquisition and now finally people are starting to appreciate the potential of the industry...it is now visible for all to see.

What was the wisest advice you received from a mentor?

To persevere and be patient in following the necessary course of action and to not give up. I believe this is what has kept me in the Gambia oil and gas industry for so long otherwise I could have left for greener pastures elsewhere.

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