Our guest today is Mr. Sirak Kifle. Mr. Sirak was born and raised in Eritrea. In 1976, he moved to Norway, where he continued his education and became a petroleum engineer. After working at different companies in Norway until 1993, he decided to move back to Eritrea and start a company, Prima Oil Company. According to people who have worked with him, he is a skilled negotiator and deal maker and has successfully negotiated major projects with IOCs, NOC’s, government institutions and various organizations with different cultural backgrounds. Among others, he launched Synergy LLC office in Abu Dhabi and was Regional Director for Middle East and Africa. He also established ProEarth and Smart Resources and worked as Commercial and Business Development Director for Baker Hughes in UAE, responsible for developing its businesses in the Middle East and Asia Pacific. He has wide contact network in the Middle East, Africa, Asia (especially China), USA and several countries in Europe. Mr. Sirak is the author of two books.
Please tell us more about Prima Oil Company?
Prima was an Oil and Gas share company. When we came back to Eritrea from abroad, my friends and I agreed to do something based on our profession, and so Prima was created. And I worked as a manager. It operated till 2006 but due to the constant rise in oil price, the company could not be sustained, and we were obliged to shut down. Besides working in Prima, I worked as the President of the Eritrean Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Around 2002, I was the President of IGAD Business Forum. Through my role as President of these two institutions, I have gained extensive experience in business development and negotiation skills.
What happened after Prima’s shut down?
After Prima, in 2007, I was offered a job in Abu Dhabi. I worked as Business Development Director and Managing Director at an oil and gas consultancy company. And again the price of oil was rising and it seemed impossible to work in the field. So by the end of 2018, I had to move back to Norway. After settling back in Norway I began my journey of writing books.
Writing books, where did that skill come from?
It might seem out of the blue but I am an avid reader and I guess that has enabled me to realize that I have a passion for writing. Also, when I used to live in Eritrea, I used to contribute articles for the economy column of the national newspaper, Hadas Eritrea. I guess I am passionate about informing people about the current events involving the economy, and I do believe economy is crucial in everybody’s life. Even though I wrote my two books simultaneously, initially I began writing Getting to Norway and then I wrote Hibrteseb kabey Nabey Bekemey (Society from where, to where and how it was formed).
Tell us more about your books.
Getting to Norway, which is written in English and Norwegian, is a summary of oil exploration and production value chain for non-experts, an overview of the Norwegian oil industry for everyone and some historical background elements of post-colonial Africa relevant to sound reasoning for the difficulty arising in copying experience to African countries. I emphasized on the exploitation of non-renewable commodity like, in this case, oil and gas that require a prudent and well planned approach that may not be so obvious at early stages of making oil discoveries, particularly in African countries.
The second book, as its title indicates, is about the history of society. It’s a three volume book. With this book I particularly focused on relaying information to generations that have been led by false and mystical history. I wanted to tell the true history of my people, and I have referenced a variety of books and strived to get my facts straight. I am now leaving behind permanent documents future generations will refer to. The second volume will be published next year. I guess its importance was visible and was selected to be published at Hadas Eritrea every week.
Recently you have been diagnosed with cancer and you beat it; please tell us about it.
Yes, I was diagnosed with colon cancer. It was aggressively spreading to my whole body, especially my liver. I went through chemotherapy and the diseases did stop spreading eventually. After that the doctors ordered I do colon surgery which took six hours. They are still checking upon me but did assure me that I am cancer free. It was a journey that showed me the importance of life and family. My family was by my side every moment, especially my wife. She was there for the emotion tantrum, for the desperation, attending to my all needs.
Any final remarks?
Well, it’s a world of digitalization where everyone can write their version of history and be believed. It’s a fact, yet a scary one. So I urge Eritrea Profile to write more historical articles since it’s one of the reliable sources to spread the nation’s true and ongoing situation.