Ghanaian energy company, Springfield, founded by 38 year old Ghanaian entrepreneur Kevin Okyere, has made history by becoming the first African energy company to drill in deep-water and discover 1.5 billion barrels of oil and 0.7tcf of gas.

CEO of SEP, Kevin Okyere

Springfield Exploration and Production (SEP) Limited has made history by becoming the first Ghanaian and African energy company to drill in deep-water and discover 1.5 billion barrels of oil and 0.7tcf of gas. The discovery was made last month following its first Afina-1 well drilling campaign in the West Cape Three Points (WCTP) Block 2, offshore Ghana. According to the CEO and founder of the company Kevin Okyere, this discovery is a tremendous achievement for Ghana and Africa, and he hopes this achievement will inspire more Africans to venture into complex projects such as oil exploration.

About the founder and CEO Kevin Okyere

Kevin was born in 1980 in the Ashanti region of ghana. His father is a traditional chief and a former business tycoon. He did his High school in Ghana and then furthered his education in accounting at George mason university, Virginia. After graduating he had attractive offers to work in the united states but he still decided to return to Ghana. He moved back to Ghana in 2004 and started a business in telecoms. The telecoms business was doing well but due to feelings of uncertainty, he decided to scan for other opportunities to venture into. This led to the birth of Springfield Exploration and Production (SEP).

About Springfield Exploration and Production (SEP)

SEP started operations in 2008 and became one of the leading players in Ghana’s downstream sector. The company supplies a significant portion of ghana’s petroleum products need as well as exporting to neighbouring countries such as Mali and Burkina Faso. The company is also involved in Nigeria’s downstream sector and has formed business partnerships with various oil giants such as BP, Total and chevron to name a few.

Kevin’s story is a lesson to educated Africans in the diaspora

Africans in the diaspora can learn some vital information from Kevin’s story. Firstly, Africans can only attain ownership of big firms in their home continent. Had Kevin stayed in the united states, he would never had the opportunity to own a $1 billion revenue-generating firm. Other examples include Aliko Dangote and Strive Masiyawa all of whom obtained their huge wealth by investing in Africa. Secondly, African expats in the diaspora need to be more brave and venture into complex business activitiesin the continent to lift their countrymen out of poverty. Kevin employs a large number of Ghanian and African workforce, as a result, providing jobs for otherwise unemployed or underemployed Africans.

Lesson for African governments

African governments must understand that it is their citizens who will develop their countries and not foreigners. Hence, they should do their utmost to empower the private sector of their economies. Kevin started in the downstream sector but late invested millions of dollars into the upstream sector. This is because he believes in himself and loves his country. On the other hand, most foreign firms are only interested in making profits which they repatriate to their home countries. Hence, African countries must do more to empower their citizens. They can do these in several ways. Firstly, establish more educational institutions and build innovation hubs to nurture entrepreneurship in the continent. Secondly, provide an enabling business environment to enhance the ease of doing business. Thirdly, make it easier for start-ups to acquire funding since lack of access to financing is a major cause of their failures.

More Kevins are needed in other sectors of the African economy

More Kevins are needed in the agriculture, health and resource sectors of the African continent. Africa has all the resources but is stuck in the primary sector hierarchy. Hence, the continent needs more industrialists such as Kevin and Aliko Dangote to add value to these resources. The industrial sector alone can provide millions of jobs to the teeming youth population. Once the industrial sector is developed, the service sector of the economy will boom, consequently lifting millions out of poverty.

By going into the upstream sector and drilling into deepwater and finding 1.5 billion barrels of oil, Kevin has proved beyond doubt that Africans can succeed in any industry. Clearly, the onus is on African governments to device how they can utilize the human resources in the continent to unlock its huge potential.

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Dangote is investing more than $20 billion in agriculture, fertilizer, petrochemical and refinery Projects in Nigeria. He is proof that Africa can quickly industrialize if African governments fully support indigenous entrepreneurs.

Aliko Dangote, CEO Dangote group

Chairman Dangote group and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, has recently donated a $3.5 million student’s hostel to Ahmedo Bello University, Zaria in Northern Nigeria. This is regarded as the largest private donation to a varsity in Nigeria since independence. This follows several donations he made to other universities across Nigeria. He donated world class Business schools to the University of Ibadan and Bayero University last year.

Dangote through his foundation is also active in economic empowerment, disaster relief and health. Last year, he donated 150 fully kit cars to the Nigerian police force which was the largest ever private donation to Nigeria’s police department.

Dangote’s Investments

According to the industrialist, he was able to accrue his vast fortune because of the opportunities provided to him by Nigeria. As a result, he is obliged to give back and this he is doing hugely.

Dangote is a firm believer in Africa’s potential. This is proven by his investment of $17 billion integrated refinery and petrochemical complex in Lekki free trade zone, Lagos state. Once completed this project will create more than 150,000 direct and indirect jobs for Nigerians.

He also increased investments in agriculture. He is investing $4.6 billion in rice, sugar and diary. According to him, agriculture is among the best ways to industrialize a country. Furthermore, agriculture’s potential for generating employment is massive. He estimated that his investments would provide up to 150,000 jobs.

The business magnate through his conglomorate, the Dangote Group, is also the largest employer in Nigeria after the federal government whilst being reportedly responsible for over 10 percent of Nigeria’s GDP.

Benefits of supporting local entrepreneurs

Millions of youth are unemployed across the African continent. African governments supporting local entrepreneurs to scale up their businesses is key to abating this mounting crisis. Successful indigenous entrepreneurs will do a lot for their respective countries. They will create large number of jobs, donate to charities, participate in social corporate responsibilities and increase national revenues via increased taxes paid to their coffers.

African governments must step up

Dangote is proof that African countries should fully support local entrepreneurs to expand their businesses. Supporting local entrepreneurs will end up benefiting the respective governments greatly. This is because they are willing to invest heavily in their home countries. It is incumbent on African governments to provide incentives to local entrepreneurs to expand their businesses. They should also improve the business environment of their countries.