MUSCAT, March 2 – The Omani Authority for Partnership for Development (OAPFD), the entity set up by the government to oversee all offset-related investments, plans to procure at least seven more projects during the course of 2019. The new initiatives will build on the Authority’s burgeoning and already substantive portfolio of operational projects, numbering 11 to date, and include the prestigious Oman Aviation Academy in Suhar, the first of its kind Advanced Electronic Security Academy, Oman Marine Biotechnology Centre, Central Date Palm Lab and Modelling Centre at Innovation Park Muscat.
OAPFD’s CEO Dr Dhafir Awadh al Shanfari (pictured) said the upcoming projects are in line with the Authority’s mandate, which seeks to broadly support the government’s economic diversification goals. “The Authority has been working to ensure that we have a balanced portfolio of projects to fulfil our mandate, which is to have operational projects in partnerships with OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) that are obligated to work with us in Oman through local partners in three core areas: Enhancing defence and security capabilities; Human Capital Development; and boosting In-Country Value development.”
Speaking to the Observer, Dr Al Shanfari said the Authority plans to kick off implementation of a string of new ventures this year under offset commitments made by number of international firms that have secured defence and military related contracts from the government. First off is a plan for the establishment of a maintenance capability centre by Austrian firm Steyr at the Ministry of Defence — an agreement for which will signed on March 13, 2019, said the CEO. “There will be two centres, which will enhance capabilities at the MoD, a customer of Steyr, which will hopefully add value in building skills and also reduce future costs for the government.”
Shedding light on other initiatives due to be progressed this year, Dr Al Shanfari said they include tech transfer projects linked to a certain type of industry, an “ambitious” leadership programme targeted at the private sector, an export programme, and a number of joint venture opportunities in the electronics sector. All of these initiatives will be delivered under offset — a strategic tool that enables the government to negotiate and agree with Oman’s international contractors the implementation of strategic projects of value to the Sultanate, the CEO explained.
“In addition to these new projects, we are currently seeing through the delivery of at least 11 projects that we have already started, some of which have begun bearing fruit. They include the National Resilience Programme, SME Fund, Oman Marine Biotechnology Centre, the STEM Oman project, the Youth Skills Development Programme, Oman Aviation Academy, Oman Cyber-Security Academy, Central Date Palm Centre and the Tasis initiative with the Coast Guard,” he added.