This paper describes and addresses the most prevalent of the regulatory pitfalls facing new entrants in African countries with emerging offshore exploration industries. These potential pitfalls include issues such as:

  • Lack of defined timeframes and processes;

  • No integrated permitting systems;

  • Numerous regulatory requirements not associated with permits;

  • Difficulties in identifying regulatory requirements; and

  • Lack of resources at regulator level.

Drawing on our experience with selected African countries, we then describe and provide practical examples illustrating how these problematic aspects can be addressed and alleviated through the early identification and operationalization of requirements, to create an effective permit management system. Solutions we explore will include the following: Formal aspects such as development of dual systems for permit management and other regulatory requirements; and creating proactive permitting plans and strategizing how to provide integration where none exists (e.g. through alignment with operational timelines to ensure that permitting requirements are fulfilled in time to meet required operational start dates); informal aspects such as establishment of effective relationships with regulators; and utilization of local consultants for the ‘unwritten knowledge’ perspective.

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