he relationship between energy major, Aiteo Group and CAF is set to take football to new heights in Africa, writes Bonny Kant.
Nigerian energy giant, Aiteo Group has emerge one of the largest indigenous oil and gas companies in the country by output. With an average production of 90,000barrels per-day, Aiteo can proudly rub shoulders with continental corporate giants as Nigeria’s new energy royalty.
On the 15, October 2017, on the side-lines of a national football competition sponsored by Aiteo, the oil giant concluded another deal with the Confederation of African Football(CAF) to sponsor Africa’s biggest football awards event. With this deal, Nigeria’s Energy royalty has finally established a strong partnership with the continent’s football royalty. The success of the CAF Awards which is scheduled to hold on January 4, 2018 in Accra will be the first fruit of this interesting liaison.
Aiteo’s climb to the top has been a steady one in the last 7 years. In 2000, Benedict Peters founded Sigmund Cummenicci, an oil and gas trading company that would later become the Aiteo Group. Initially specializing in oil trading and tank farms ownership and management, Aiteo has diversified over the years, into exploration and production, as well as energy supply, both in the upstream and downstream markets. As the company comes of age, it has also expanded into power generation, with a generating plant that will serve up to over 7 million people in view.
What makes this partnership even more unique is that it is seriously backed by Mr. Peters. In an article which was published on the huffintonpost, Mr. Peters extolled the place football occupies in African life. “If any of our children were to meet — one from Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Angola — toss them a football and you can guarantee that friendships, common ground, laughter and handshakes would emerge quickly,” he says.
“And if football is something that can unify our young people, why should we not also use it to unify across the differences of our continent, he asked in the article.
But apart from football Mr. Peters company, Aiteo has also been a company that easily identifies opportunity and makes good use of them.
In 2014, Shell was divesting some of its onshore assets in Nigeria’s Niger-Delta region. Two of Shells major onshore prime assets came up for sale. Aiteo did not hesitate to submit its bid, and had to compete with other indigenous players in the oil and gas industry like Neconde, Sahara, and Transcorp for the prized OML29, alongside other assets. An Aiteo-led consortium eventually acquired OML29 and the accompanying Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL).
OML29 is a large block located in the southeastern Niger Delta containing 11 oil and gas fields. OML29 stretches over an area of 983 square kilometres. It includes the Nembe Oil Field, Santa Barbara Oil Field and Okoroba Oil Fields. It also include related facilities like the Nembe Creek Trunk Line NCTL. A 100 kilometres long pipeline with a capacity of 600 thousand barrels per day.
For the Confederation of African Football(CAF), the journey to dominance was more predictable and yet longer than Aiteo’s. CAF is the umbrella body for all the Football Associations in all the countries on the continent.
Today, CAF comprises of 56 countries but was started by four countries 60 years ago. In February 1957, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and South Africa came together in Khartoum, Sudan to draft statutes and to discuss staging the first Africa Cup of nations. In June of that same year, Abdallah Salem of Egypt became the first president of the confederation and the first African Cup of Nations was held, with Egypt emerging as winner.
The CAF awards, where the best African footballer of the year is crowned, was organized for the first time in 1970. As of today, CAF’s activities on the continent include the CAF Champions League, CAF women’s cup, Africa Beach Soccer Championship, and the African Youth Championships. CAF is the leading authority on football in Africa. All the African countries have representatives in CAF from their Football Association.
Like royalty, Aiteo has stamped its dominance in the Nigerian oil and gas industry. More recently, the consolidated energy firm has stepped up its contribution to the country with huge investment in sports.
In May 2017, Aiteo, signed a five-year deal worth N2.5 billion with the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) becoming the footballing body’s optimum partner. Part of the deal involved the sponsorship of local tournaments, funding for the Super Eagles of Nigeria, and salary payment for all coaches of the national team. As part of the deal, Aiteo also sponsored the Nigerian Federations Cup, with funding of up to N300 million.
With Aiteo’s involvement in sports, Nigeria’s football received a new lease of life and a renewed interest was generated in the sport. The Federations Cup was rebranded as the Aiteo Cup with the hype surrounding the tournament elevated to a new pitch. The prize money was increased from N2million to N25million for the male category. In the female category, the prize money was increased from N1million to N10million following the sponsorship. With the sponsorship of the annual CAF awards, Aiteo is taking its support for football from national to continental level.
Like royalty, CAF controls football in Africa. Like royalty, CAF crowns the champions of African football, and like royalty, CAF aligns with promising brands with similar vision. The partnership between CAF and Aiteo is the perfect one. It is the union of two entities operating in different fields but with a similar purpose.
A sports analyst, Kant lives in Johannesburg, South Africa