BLACK GOLD

How country can benefit from oil

Communication. It is the root of all relationships, whether personal or professional.

In Summary
  • Receiving feedback is not sufficient to foster development in the oil and gas sector but listening is.
  • In fact, 50% of the communication should be listening.
An oil rig in Turkana.
An oil rig in Turkana.
Image: FILE

Kenya in 2012 discovered oil in Turkana and is the process of pursuing commercialisation. But even as Kenya looks with hopes at the benefits from the black gold, the country must not be blind to the challenges that may arise from stakeholders in terms of competing interests.

Most oil-rich African countries have not benefited from it due to conflicts and poor management of this resource. Accordingly, one of the critical management roles that has failed in the oil and gas sector across Africa is proper communication. 

Communication plays a critical role in fostering development of the oil and gas sector the world over. It is the root of all relationships, whether personal or professional.

 

The oil and gas sector is prone to crises regularly from spills and unrests, mostly from stakeholders. Communication plays a critical role in mitigating and managing such crises. Government institutions responsible for managing the oil and gas industry tend to blunder on their communication strategies, critically compromising achievement of their goals and objectives.

Indeed, in order to build better relationships with stakeholders in the oil and gas sector, leaders must hone their communication skills. We have examples across Africa of how failed communication has frustrated the growth of the sector.

In Nigeria, for example, the leading oil producer in Africa, it has been argued that communication mismanagement with communities and stakeholders has led to pipeline vandalism, unrests, as well as pipeline sabotages and this has impinged on oil production and exports for years. Communities within the area of operation cannot be ignored and essentially play an important part in helping operations succeed.

Understanding the needs of communities where one operates is not only critical but a must. A critical analysis of the oil and gas sector in Africa shows communication within and outside seems to be failing miserably. Indeed, it has been argued that failure to listen to stakeholders’ need and point of view seems to be the biggest obstacle to achieving the intended goals in the oil and gas sector.

Kenya can draw important lessons from such blunders and avoid similar mistakes. It is important to note that communication is the means by which the functions of management are accomplished. In the oil and gas sector, effective communication leads to effective management, which aids attainment of intended goals.

Understanding the needs of communities where one operates is not only critical but a must. A critical analysis of the oil and gas sector in Africa shows communication within and outside seems to be failing miserably. Indeed, it has been argued that failure to listen to stakeholders’ need and point of view seems to be the biggest obstacle to achieving the intended goals in the oil and gas sector.

Listening is a critical component of communication. Players in the sector need to appreciate that communication can be measured, and this will help them in drawing proper and effective communication strategies. Receiving feedback is not sufficient to foster development in the sector but listening is. In fact, 50 per cent of the sector’s communication should be listening.

Certainly, information on the challenges in the sector such as unrests must be shared with the relevant decision-makers and stakeholders at the right time to salvage the situation at the earliest opportunity. The quality of critical strategic decisions in the sector depends upon the quality of communication. Without effective communication, it may not be possible to issue instructions to others or even alter a plan/strategy that is going wrong.

 

Further, it is important for players in the sector to appreciate that effective communication fosters effective control. This implies that, the extent of actual performance, comparing it with standards set by plans and taking corrective actions of nonconformities, if any, to ensure attainment of objectives and goals. 

Communication has incredible implication on management processes such as planning, organising, directing, and controlling. Accordingly, as mentioned above ignoring the role of effective communication can have serious ramifications. Effective communication is critical as it serves as a bridge between leadership and the stakeholders. It has been argued that effective communication creates collective understanding and trust among the stakeholders.

Finally, from the forgoing government and institutions must appreciate the role of effective communication in the oil and gas sector in achieving objectives and/or goals as well as mitigating wrong management plans and strategies. Kenya must be quick to learn from mistakes other countries have made in terms of communication in the oil and gas sector in order to grow it.