The World Bank tender process

IN-VR, leading global energy promotion and communications consulting firm, has just delivered a major tender in collaboration with the The World Bank (WB), advising the government of Mauritania over the last eight months on their international promotion in regards to their Greater Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) and Bir Allah projects, stakeholder management, along with a plethora of capacity building exercises. Developing and implementing a communications strategy for the development of oil and gas projects is part of an important sequence for Mauritania.

In June 2022, in the framework of the pivotal WB tender, the Ministry of Petroleum, Mines and Energy of Mauritania (MDME) appointed the specialised IN-VR Consortium – supported by Beyond, an international firm specialising in institutional capacity building; and Betacom, a leading Mauritanian communications strategy firm – as the ideal energy sector public relations firm for this task.

The mission of the Consortium consisted in developing and implementing a communication strategy, to promote and mobilise Mauritania’s vast energy potential. It was organised around four main stages:

  • An audit phase;
  • A communication strategy development phase;
  • The initial phase of implementation of this communication strategy; and
  • A phase of institutional capacity building, through the development of a communication strategy.

Since the signing of the first contract in July 2022, both the MDME and the IN-VR Consortium have outstandingly cooperated to establish clientele that will develop the nation’s energy sector, and provide stronger energy security across the nation.

This campaign’s main focus has been the promotion of crucial national energy projects, while involving main stakeholders in the definition of the communication strategy; ultimately, working for the benefit of the nation and all stakeholders.

Every step of the strategy deployed during the mission has been guided by the ministry’s core values of transparency, trust, and engagement; standards which were embedded through all activities undertaken.

Although these are the first steps in a long process, Mauritania has laid its first stones towards success, and will continue to see many rewarding times ahead if it ensures that it remains strategic in its regional and international promotion and cooperation. The following is a detailed breakdown, as well as some of the initial results of this process.

National level objective

In the first instance, a business sentiment report was carried out giving key results and a clear audience analysis, enabling the team to identify key messages and decisive communication tools, which ultimately lead to the development of the communication action plan.

On a national level, the strategy’s main objective has been to ensure that all main stakeholders in the country are informed and engaged in the strategic GTA and Bir Allah projects, and more largely in all the energy projects that are to be developed in the country.

The mission at a local stakeholder management level, carried out by the aforementioned Consortium was organised around the initial audit phase in order to elaborate a complete and precise inventory of the strengths and weaknesses of the country.

This audit focused on a series of meetings with key civil society stakeholders and an assessment of Mauritania’s institutional capacity and regulatory framework for oil and gas projects. Additionally, a study was carried out on the local perception of the GTA project with the communities of Ndiago.

The audit phase was followed by the design of the communication strategy which focused on: 

  • Informing and engaging citizens while managing expectations and hopes, and informing about the complexity of each step, creating a positive dynamic around these projects;
  • Building a strategy with key stakeholders, opinion leaders in Mauritania, through a regular and structured information framework;
  • Ensuring digital listening, misinformation management and crisis communication if necessary.

International level objective

On the international level, the communication strategy development phase was structured around:

  • The development of a structured messaging platform to align, and ensure, consistency of communication at international events involving the MPME;
  • The development of a comprehensive database of content – consisting of infographics, press releases, articles, videos, photos, and more – to promote Mauritania through all existing communication channels;
  • The deployment of an extensive communication campaign at the international level, including the country’s notable participation during the COP27 in Egypt in order to build the brand image of Mauritania in the energy sector while positioning the country as a key player in the energy sector in the years to come.

The audit phase consisted in the international perception of Mauritania among potential investors, at the end of which the Consortium proceeded to design and execute the communication strategy promoting Mauritania’s ambition to be one of the major countries in the energy transition (unique energy mix: gas, oil, green hydrogen, renewables, energy transition), strengthening the attractiveness of the country to investors through the development of specific content and participation in key and strategic events, to give Mauritania visibility on its potential partners’ radars.

It has been identified across all points in the mission that raising awareness on Mauritania at international level has been key to the reinforcement of the country’s attractiveness for investors and operator willingness to support the development of energy projects, ultimately accelerating the development of the country.

Elaborating and implementing a fundamental capacity building programme

Based on the results of the audit phase carried out by the Consortium, the feedback from the participants, and our findings during the mission’s course, IN-VR was present in Nouakchott to carry out a training programme for the 3 levels within the MPME, elaborated carefully to align with the needs of the Ministry.

The three levels embarking on the capacity building programme and coaching sessions are:

  • Executives: communication and media training;
  • Senior Representatives: training in communication, stakeholder engagement, media relations, and negotiation;
  • H.E., the Minister: coaching in communication and media relations.

The undergoing coaching sessions will have tackled multiple topics and trainings:

  • New energy trends and regional cooperation;
  • Creating and sustaining an international brand identity for the Ministry;
  • Social networking and online communication;
  • Presence;
  • Content creation;
  • Preparing international tours for investor sourcing;
  • Budgeting and organisation tools; and last but certainly not least,
    Successful practices to attract investors and how to prepare for meetings.

Overall conclusions and next steps

The Ministry and the Consortium started all efforts to reach the desired outcome for Mauritania’s vast energy potential, driven by a communication strategy built on coordination, cooperation and promotion at the heart of every endeavour undertaken.

A detailed action plan for the engagement and mobilisation of stakeholders in the short, medium and long term were developed and presented to the MPME by the Consortium, which included the priority of actions to be deployed at the national level, particularly in terms of information flow, to ensure the mobilisation and alignment of institutional and private sector actors in Mauritania in the long run.

An initial part of the actions proposed in this plan have already been implemented during the mission conducted by the Consortium over the period July 2022-February 2023.

Next steps include the continuation of the international promotion campaign of the country’s oil and gas projects as they continue to be developed in the coming years.

Special thanks

“At IN-VR we are very honoured and proud to have supported the nation of Mauritania in collaboration with the World Bank in this successful tender. 

We would also like to extend our sincerest gratitude to the nation of Mauritania for entrusting us with this mission. It has been an honour to be a part of their incredible journey, and we are proud of the impact we have been able to make in their community through our efforts in  stakeholder management, international promotion, and capacity building.

We are looking forward to continuing working together towards a brighter African future”, commented IN-VR’s Co-founders, CEO, Chryssa Tsouraki, and Chairman, Stelios Papagrigoriou.

About the Author: Felipe Gaitán Michelsen