Benedict Peters, the founder of Nigerian oil giant Aiteo, has been named Africa’s oil and gas leader of the year by Forbes. He was conferred with this honour at the Forbes Best of Africa gala, which held in New York on the 27th of September.
Forbes says the award was given to Mr. Peters in recognition of his “visionary leadership, distinguished service, and transformational realignment.” The magazine’s representatives at the gala spoke in positive terms about the Nigerian businessman’s role in steering what is now the country’s largest indigenous energy provider.
Paul H. Trustfull, Emerging Markets editor at Forbes, described Mr. Peters’ journey to the summit of Nigeria’s oil industry as “exemplary as well as revolutionary.” He said Mr. Peters had helped Aiteo attain a respectable place in an especially tough industry, and had done so with commendable skill.
According to Trustfull, “Peters reinvented himself in times of great personal challenges. He resurrected his identity and reputation while battling injustice. He proves that inspirational leadership in a difficult industry is possible.”
On his part, Peters called the award “inspiring”, and said that it would spur the company to intensify its efforts to make Africa self-sufficient in energy.
“This award motivates us to broaden our vision for the continent despite all odds and accelerate her economic development,” Peters said. “We believe that Africa has what it takes to lead the world, and we will continue to push the frontiers of development through our investments in people and technology.”
He pointed to Aiteo’s success as proof that Africans have it within themselves to bring about the future they desire.
Benedict Peters’ involvement with the oil and gas sector began in 1999. He has grown Aiteo into the country’s biggest indigenous exploration and petroleum company, with production levels of up to 100,000 barrels per day (bpd). Since its acquisition of Africa’s largest onshore oil block in 2015, it has ramped up output from the property by almost 25%. The company has also grown its value to $6 billion, twice what it was three years ago.
Under Peters, Aiteo has also branched out into other sectors, with investments in agriculture, electricity generation, and mining. There’s also been geographical expansion; Aiteo plans to invest $4.3 billion in new offshore blocks. Besides this, the company is establishing a presence in Western and Central African countries.
The Forbes award is just one of several awards bagged by Peters in recent years. In 2014, he received the Marquee Award for Global Business Excellence at the Africa-US Leadership awards. A year later, he was presented with the Martin Luther King Jr Legacy Award for Economic Empowerment. And at the 2018 Guardian Awards, he was named ‘Oil and Gas Man of the Year’.