Why is BP bringing in empowerment partners?
Firstly, because it is the right thing to do. It is also a sensible reaction to market forces. In its broadest sense the major motive is to break down old divides, to empower previously disadvantaged groups and help create a balanced and fair business world that reflects better the profile of South Africa’s population. It is about making sure that regardless of gender or race, everyone is given an opportunity to grow and prosper in the South African economy.
Secondly, not to enter into an empowerment deal would run counter to everything the company stands for. Thhis agreement benefits not just BP, but everybody we do business with – our dealers, our suppliers and our customers. To these sound reasons can be added our historically strong sense of social responsibility that leads us to embrace and fully support Government empowerment initiatives that were expressed in the 1998 White Paper on Energy and more recently by the Oil Industry Charter.
Why did we take so long in doing it?Other oil companies have done empowerment deals already?
This is a signed agreement between BPSA, the Mineworkers Investment Company and WDB Investment Holdings. Apart from one other company, all agreements announced so far in the South African oil industry are, in fact, memorandums of understanding (MOUs), not signed final agreements. BPSA signed its MOU with MIC in March. The fact is that BPSA is well ahead of the pack on this issue. We believe the agreement we have signed will give us a significant commercial advantage in the market place.
How does this deal fit into the AmaAfrica development that was announced last month?
Very well indeed. It is part and parcel of the AmaAfrica process, making the company more committed than ever to the region, marking a significant step in the evolution of its 80-year commitment to the continent. Both project teams have been in close collaboration and the strategies and plans are totally aligned. We can confirm that our new partners MIC and WDB are fully aware of AmaAfrica and, like us, see the AmaAfrica project as an opportunity to create new growth to better meet the energy needs of the region.
How does this fit into BP’s broader transformation agenda?
Very well. Our new partners will become active participants on all fronts of our transformation processes, but particularly so on matters of employment equity, BEE procurement in SA and gender and skills transfer.