A Nigerian-Born Energy Law Expert Prof. Damilola .S. Olawuyi SAN Grants Interview over his recent published book entitled “Local Contents and Sustainable Development in Global Energy Markets”

A Nigerian-Born Energy Law Expert Prof. Damilola .S. Olawuyi SAN Grants Interview over his recent published book entitled “Local Contents and Sustainable Development in Global Energy Markets”

1. May we meet you Sir

I am Damilola Olawuyi, SAN, a professor of law and arbitrator with expertise in petroleum, mining, energy, environment and sustainable development law.

2. You recently published a book titled “Local Content and Sustainable Development in Global Energy Markets” , what was your motivation to publish this book?

Over the last years, we have seen a geometric rise in calls for greater involvement of indigenes and local communities in resource development activities (such as oil and gas, mining, agriculture, and renewable energy projects). We have also witnessed a rise in localism across the world, i.e ‘buy local’, ‘act local’ and ‘support local’ movements that aim to mobilize support for local industries and locally owned businesses and entrepreneurial ventures in supply value chains. In response, countries have developed local content requirements and laws (LCRs) that stipulate a percentage of goods and services that must be sourced from local industries and individuals.

However, while LCRs generally aim to boost domestic value creation and economic growth, inappropriately designed LCRs could produce negative social, human rights and environmental outcomes, and a misalignment of a country’s fiscal policies and global sustainable development goals. These unintended outcomes may ultimately serve as disincentive to foreign participation in a country’s energy market.

In developing this book, I sought to understand how the critical intersections between LCRs and the implementation of sustainable development goals have been handled in frontier global energy markets across the world. The aim was to develop a book that simplifies the scope, content, and guiding principles of effective LCRs. The book is therefore prepared in a user-friendly style to enhance its utility among its primary audience, namely students, corporations, energy ministries, local content agencies, law firms, arbitrators, courts and international tribunals before whom arguments over local content clauses and policies often come for resolution.

3. Can you tell us more about the book “Local Content and Sustainable Development in Global Energy Markets” ?

The book examines the critical intersections between local content requirements (LCRs) and the implementation of sustainable development treaties in global energy markets including Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America, South America, Australasia and the Middle East.

With 21 chapters from leading scholars in different parts of the world, the book provides an authoritative exploration of the nature, scope, and contours of LCRs, and how countries avoid misalignments between LCRs, and a country’s wider social, environment, trade, investment, and human rights treaty obligations.

In doing so, the book outlines the guiding principles of a sustainable and rights-based approach – focusing on transparency, accountability, gender justice and other human rights issues – to the design, application and implementation of LCRs in global energy markets to avoid misalignments.

Overall, the book aims to enhance an understanding of the relationship among, LCRs, sustainable development, distributive justice, gender justice, social licence to operate, and corporate social responsibility in the energy sector.

4. Is there any specific gap in knowledge which your ground breaking publication fills which has not been addressed by several other publication in the area of Energy?

While earlier texts have focused on surveying existing laws and policies on LCRs in select countries, the global, multi-dimensional, and intersectional nature of LCRs and sustainable development has yet to receive detailed, book-length exposition. This book fills this gap in three ways.

First, it unpacks the relationship among local content, sustainable development, distributive justice, gender justice, social license to operate and corporate social responsibility in energy markets. Second, it provides a complete survey that covers Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America, South America, Australasia and the Middle East. Third, it provides recommendations on the guiding principles of a sustainable and rights-based approach to the design, application and implementation of LCRs in global energy markets.

In so doing, the book sheds new light on the oft-neglected social dimension
of the design, application and implementation of LCRs, especially the question whether LCRs aid or hinder the implementation of sustainable development treaties in energy markets.

5. What Reforms do you suggest in the Energy Sector in Africa and across the world?

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made it inescapable for the whole world to stay ‘local’, buy ‘local’, and make use of locally available goods and services. There is therefore no better time than now for countries to maximize the full value of local content policies to support homegrown technologies, goods and services in key sectors. In a post-COVID world, global energy markets will need to increasingly embrace local innovation in order to recover better and stronger, and to minimize the impacts of future disruptions and shocks.

To achieve this aim, on-the-ground problems relating to the implementation of LCRs have to be carefully addressed in order to avoid policy misalignments. Practical challenges such as unrealistic LCR targets that fail to reflect prevailing local contexts; shortage of technology, capacity and material at the local level; ambiguities and misalignment between the overall policy aims of LCRs and its practical outcomes; unclear legislation and rules; and failure to balance LCRs with a country’s obligations under core international treaties on trade, investment, environment, human rights and sustainable development amongst others, may ultimately stifle the application and success of LCRs.

The 21 chapters of the book propose innovative solutions to these and other practical implementation problems. Generally, in order to maximise the full value of LCRs for sustainable post-COVID 19 economic recovery in global energy markets, a flexible and collaborative approach to LCR implementation will be essential. This will require designing clear, transparent and realistic LCRs, while also providing adequate institutional support, financial resources, and supplier development programmes to develop the skills and capacity of local supplier to effectively meet localization needs. Stipulating mandatory LCRs, without providing the required supportive business environment and legal frameworks that will aid suppliers to meet those requirements may be counterproductive in the long run and could ultimately weaken a country’s overall investment climate.

6. Coming up with this groundbreaking book must have been demanding considering that you are the Deputy Vice-chacellor of Afe Babalola University Ado-Ekiti Nigeria, how were you able to manage your research, work, and personal life?

Yes, any writing process requires significant planning and organisation which, as you rightly noted, can be very demanding. The urgency and importance of the subject matter to our current world was a principal motivating force that kept me going and I am glad it all came together in the end.

Furthermore, I have benefited immensely from the dedication and collegiality of all the contributing authors, whose substantial research and commitment to leading-edge scholarship in this field has been pivotal to the production of the book. I am also indebted to many helping hands at ABUAD and at Qatar Foundation, for their dedication and support, without which the publication of the book would not have been possible. I also appreciate the excellent support of my family, friends, students, research assistants, series editors, as well as the very efficient and professional staff at Cambridge University Press, all of whom played prominent roles in bringing the project to fruition. Finally, all thanks to God Almighty.

7. What has been your experience in legal practice been like and what advice do you have to young and upcoming lawyers in choosing their career path?

I have had a very positive experience as a scholar-practitioner (i.e combining academia with law practice). My continued engagement with practice gives me fresh perspectives on the workings of the law, which allows me to provide my students with fresh real life examples and scenarios. In the same vein, working on different academic publications and research projects means that I can be aware of the latest developments in law at every point in time, which enriches my practice, especially the process of preparing for court cases and arbitration.

As I tell my students, to succeed in anything in life hard work, absolute commitment, and mentoring are very essential. For lawyers and law students, hard work simply means going the extra mile in preparing for tasks, which requires absolute commitment, in terms of having a disciplined and balanced routine that accommodates work and leisure. The moment a lawyer becomes unreliable in terms of delivering quality work at all times, then the future becomes precarious. Of course, it is also very important to actively build relationships with colleagues within and outside the profession, in order to widen one’s horizon and knowledge base. Having a wide network of mentors brings boundless opportunities, and opportunities ultimately open the door for professional success.

Thanks for having me

Book information

For more information or to pre-order your copies, please contact:
Mr. Keji Kolawole: info@ogeesinstitute.edu.ng; Twitter: @dsolawuyi
Tel: +234 81 40000 988

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