Our African roots have always been integral to this mission; they have lent us a unique advantage, equipping us with the knowledge and understanding to reach many under-served areas that multi-nationals cannot.

As we continue to grapple with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the last two years have been some of the most challenging our industry has experienced. Despite this, we are pleased to continue supplying and delivering vital petroleum products to local Governments and industries. The sector can take deserved pride in our collective efforts to keep the lights on – both physically and metaphorically – during such uncertain times.

At Dalbit, our work to meet countries’ energy needs and fuel development has not just happened over the past two years, but the past two decades. We’ve always been firm believers that, if done right, our sector can serve as an overwhelmingly positive force in Africa. 

But as an industry, we still have a long way to go. Sub-Saharan Africa still has some of the lowest energy access rates globally. We believe that making our industry’s primary mission eradicating energy poverty is the right thing to do and good for business. This, I trust, is what has been our recipe for success for the past 20 years of Dalbit’s existence. 

Starting out

Twenty years ago, we set out to make a positive change. As an African-led, African-run business, we were able to see the vast potential our region offered, which made us determined to unleash it to its fullest extent.

When we started, the petroleum industry faced significant and seemingly insurmountable hurdles. Countries in the region were dealing with a distinct lack of infrastructure, which was, in turn, holding back much-needed economic development. 

Hence, in 2002, we began making meaningful, long-term investments into the region’s infrastructure to ensure consistent availability of products for local Governments, aid agencies and local industry. Twenty years on, we’ve expanded our business to support communities across ten different African countries, overseeing and supporting the installation of depots in Bor, Rumbek and Wau in South Sudan, Gulu and Arua in Uganda, and Goma and Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Becoming a reliable supplier and distributor

Our African roots have always been integral to this mission; they have lent us a unique advantage, equipping us with the knowledge and understanding to reach many under-served areas that multi-nationals cannot. 

And as we all know, whilst our region boasts some of the most beautiful landscapes in our continent, this poses significant logistical challenges. East Africa’s geographic complexity has required us to dig deep, persevering over many years to identify new distribution routes for our trucks to navigate unchartered landscapes safely. 

Similarly, our appetite for adventure has helped us mould a solutions-first approach to our business. In practice, this means focusing on offering client’s long-term energy plans that support their growth aspirations, as opposed to the traditional industry model of product-focused sales missions aimed at short-term returns.

Purpose and profit

We know well that being a truly successful business is about more than just serving customers; it is also about serving communities. After all, our mission is not just to fuel growth but also development, which is why we endeavour to give back to the communities we operate in, both economically and socially. 

This was just as important to us in the early years as it is now. From supporting students in local schools to donating over $400,000 worth of PPE to local hospitals within the regions we operate in during the pandemic, our respect for and gratefulness to local communities underpin everything we do. 

This desire to empower local people is also at the core of our everyday commercial operations. Rather than following the well-trodden path of extracting the region’s natural resources and moving swiftly on, we target economic growth to improve the lives of Africans. For us, this means supporting local people and unlocking new job opportunities – both directly and indirectly – for the region’s talented workforce, helping them achieve their full potential through training and upskilling. We’re firm believers that Africans are best placed to drive the change we want to see and encourage them to take the reins of their futures. 

We don’t plan to stop here and constantly look to adapt to the future, studying the market to identify new opportunities to provide extra value for clients. LNG is one such market, and research suggests demand will reach 700m tonnes by 2024, and the EU is already making early moves to facilitate investment into low-carbon gas projects. Looking ahead, we’ll be exploring this market as one of several new business streams.  

We’re excited about what lies ahead and will continue to push the industry to become the best it can be through a socially conscious, development-first approach to business - both this year and in the 20 to come. 

Article written by Timothy Skudi, CEO Dalbit Affiliates and published on PI Magazine.