Benedict Peters may not be the first name that comes to mind when you talk of the richest people in Nigeria. But, as a key player in the oil, gas, and power industry in Nigeria and Africa, Peters may well be one silent billionaire that is rarely in the news.
Ranked by Ventures Africa as the 17th richest person in Africa, Benedict Peters is an innovative businessman considered to be one of the pioneers in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. The Guardian Newspaper, Nigeria in June 2018, named him “Oil and Gas CEO of the Year.” Later the same year, Forbes honoured him with the ‘Africa’s Oil and Gas Leader of the Year’ award in September 2018.
A native of Onicha-Olona in Delta State, Benedict Peters was born in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State in 1966. He had his early education in eastern Nigeria and finished his secondary school education at Federal Government College Enugu. He got admission into the University of Benin, Edo State and bagged a first degree in Geography and Town Planning.
Fresh from school, he did several jobs across banking, commodity trading before entering the Nigerian oil and gas industry in the early 1990s. He joined Ocean and Oil Limited (now Oando) where he worked closely with the founders. From there, he moved to a major downstream petroleum company – MRS Oil Nigeria Plc as Group Executive Director, and later as Managing Director. In this position, he had to oversee all the Chevron/Texaco petrol stations owned by MRS Oil in West Africa.
Entrepreneurship and establishing Aiteo Group
By the end of the 20th century, Peters decided that he had gained sufficient experience to try his hands on entrepreneurship. He established Sigmund Cummunecci in 1999 to focus on tank farms and all aspects of the downstream sector.
Barely ten years after, Peters established Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited as a succeeding entity to Sigmund Communecci. The company was meant to focus on providing responsible energy extraction and production, helping fuel economic growth, among other activities. The company is now known as Aiteo group, a global supplier of refined oil and gas products. Aiteo also heads resources exploration projects.
The company now owns one of the largest petroleum tank farms in Nigeria with excess facilities of over 250 million litres on a landmass of over 100,000 square meters including the Abonnema Storage Terminal. Aiteo group also has offices in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Warri, London, and Geneva with headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria.
Under Peters’ guidance, the group acquired a controlling stake in Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29 (containing 11 oil and gas fields) and the Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL) in the Eastern Niger Delta from Royal Dutch Shell Plc.
Aiteo Group is an Official Optimum Partner of the Nigerian Football Federation and signed a five-year partnership agreement worth about N2.9 billion with the NFF in 2017. The company also partnered with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to fund the annual CAF Awards in 2018.
Benedict Peters is devoted to the growth of the company and continues to design strategic models and international joint ventures. He has also started diversifying the business, with the start of Aiteo Power. Peters heads the Aiteo Consortium and EMA Consortium which won separate bids to acquire three power generating companies.
Aiteo Group was named “Company of The Year” at the New Telegraph Awards in 2017, as well as the Nigeria Oil and Gas Conference Awards in July 2018.
Benedict Peters is the founder and chairman of Joseph Agro Foundation, a foundation with a focus on the improvement of the lives of the farmers in rural areas. Through this foundation, he has executed several philanthropic projects and initiatives, especially in rural areas.
He serves as the Chairman of the Otuoke University Council.
Peters is also the owner of Bravura Holdings Ltd., a company that has secured platinum concessions in Zimbabwe in line with the government’s plans to revamp the economy. Zimbabwe has the world’s third-largest platinum group metal reserves, and even though investors in the past have been wary of inconsistent mining laws, Peters refuses to be deterred.
The company may also be the means through which Peters wants to explore mining of cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo, copper in Zambia, gold in Ghana and iron ore in Guinea, as hinted by the Manager, Lionel Mhlanga.
Awards and Recognitions
Much as Peters stays away from the news, his achievements continue to receive acclaim on various stages.
Peters was one of the four recipients of the Marquee Award for Global Business Excellence at the Africa-US Leadership Awards dinner in Washington DC in August 2014. At an event in Willard Hotel, Washington DC, he also received the Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Awards in the “Economic Empowerment” category, in January 2015.
Peters was on the BusinessDay Newspaper’s list of 50 Most Influential Nigerians in 2017, and was BuinessDay’s Man of the year in 2019. Rich as he is, there is no means to determine Peters’ net worth. Rough estimates across several platforms say he is worth at least a couple of billion dollars, hence his ranking by Ventures Africa as the 17th richest man in Africa.