ISSN 2330-717X

Significance Of African Energy Week – OpEd

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After extensive preparations and negotiations these several months, the South African based African Energy Chamber (AEC) is proud to hold African Energy Week, considered to be one of the world’s largest and continental energy gathering, from October 18 – 21 in Cape Town. The African Energy Week primarily aims at discussing all aspects of exploration, collaboration and utilization of Africa’s energy resources in scaling up energy security, drastically reduce energy imports and its role in driving socioeconomic growth in Africa. 

It will also address the energy infrastructure development and energy monetization initiatives in partnership with global players, foreign investors and governments. As Africa’s biggest gathering for energy ministers, energy policymakers, companies and investors – it will therefore be crucial for shaping discussions to find pragmatic approach around the key role the continent’s massive yet largely unexplored hydrocarbon resources play in driving making energy poverty history while triggering newfound socioeconomic growth.  

In partnership with leading renewable energy companies, the four days of networking and serious discussions around the energy renewable sector becomes extremely crucial for Africa. With over 800 million people across the African continent living in energy poverty and 900 million without access to clean cooking solutions, the need to accelerate the deployment and exploitation of the continent’s vast yet untapped natural gas, solar, wind, hydropower and green hydrogen resources has expanded.

The African Energy Chamber’s special report titled “State of African Energy Q2 2022 Report” will be presented during the conference. According to the report seen by this author, increasing energy including oil and gas activity and a record number of new discoveries have set the stage for significant industry growth in the second half of 2022.

According to the report, increasing oil and gas activity and a record number of new discoveries have set the stage for significant industry growth in the second half of 2022. The future depends on sustaining the longevity of the industry. The report outlines an unprecedented level of new oil and gas discoveries on the African continent. The simple, staggering fact that more than half of sub-Saharan Africans lack access to electricity means priority must continue to end energy poverty. With Africa’s population projected to exceed two billion by 2040, generation capacity will need to be doubled by 2030 and multiplied fivefold by 2050.

Do you want to find out more about Africa’s exploration potential? Are you interested in connecting with exploration & production (E&P) companies that are active across the continent? Africa needs more exploration, the rapid development of oil and gas reserves and improved exploitation to meet local demand. Through companies such as TotalEnergies, Chevron, ExxonMobil, bp, Africa Oil Corp, Kosmos Energy, Marathon Oil, CNPC, CNOOC and many more, the future of Africa’s energy sector is unequivocal, incontestable and undeniable.

By exploring the benefits and challenges associated with these exploration campaigns, investors play unique role in sustainable development as Africa has roughly 40 billion undeveloped barrels of oil and gas reserves in the energy industry. According to the World Bank, Russia also holds the world’s largest natural gas reserves, the second largest coal reserves, and the eighth largest oil reserves. With the Russia-Ukraine crisis and Russia the leading energy supplier redirecting its search markets in Asian region, it has brought good opportunities for new partners for Africa.

Over the past years after Soviet collapse, Russia has expressed heightened interest in exploring and producing oil and gas in Africa. Emboldened African leaders and industry executives have accepted proposals, signed several agreements with Russian companies, but little have been achieved in the sector. With the rapidly changing geopolitical conditions and economic fragmentation fraught with competition and rivalry, African leaders have to understand that Russia might not heavily invest in the oil and gas sector, not even in the needed infrastructure in this industry.

During June 2021 interview discussions with NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, a pan-African company that focuses on research, documentation, negotiations and transactions in the energy sector, he expressed the urgent necessity for scaling up Africa’s production capacity in order to achieve universal access to energy. He further noted the challenging tasks and pointed strongly to the need for a transformative partnership-based strategy, (that requires transparency, good governance and policies that could create a favourable investment climate) and that aims at increasing access to energy for all Africans.

Natural gas, affordable and abundant in Africa, has the power to spark significant job creation and capacity-building opportunities, economic diversification and growth. Sustainable development of African economies can only be attained by the development of local industry – by investing in Africans, building up African entrepreneurs and supporting the creation of indigenous companies. It requires cooperative efforts by Africans.

Can there be a unified approach to collaborating on issues of energy projects in Africa? NJ Ayuk observes that Africa has already made an indelible mark in the oil and gas industry. Africans must therefore become more accountable, and plan better in the energy sectors. Some potential external investors, such as Russia, have for many decades shown interest in this sector but have not delivered promptly on their promises and signed agreements. 

Some experts believe that Europe can look to Africa as preferred energy supplier. Africa is ready to welcome investors currently pulling out of Russia if they can genuinely invest in developing oil and gas infrastructure which Africa seriously lacks in this industry. For Africa at this point in time, that’s a real opportunity and understandably Russia aspires to be the leading supplier on the global market and therefore seeks to marginalize potential producers such as Africa. In practical terms, it is very cautious making financial commitments in Africa.

“The demand for oil and gas from Africa is on the rise, especially as we expect domestic usage to rise significantly, driven by growing population and corresponding economic activity. It is therefore key for countries across the continent to leverage existing oil and gas infrastructure to fast-track the development of assets that would otherwise have been stranded,” said Verner Ayukegba, Senior Vice President of the African Energy Chamber. “We are delighted to continue working with interested investors and researchers to bring forward vital data that allows decision makers to drive investments in Africa’s energy sector, that ultimately will lead to ending energy poverty in Africa by 2030.”

According to Ayukegba, the African Energy Chamber continues to investigate how the accelerated investment and development of Africa’s infrastructure landscape will be key for ensuring oil and gas discoveries translate into long-term developments. Currently, there exists an infrastructure gap across the continent, a gap which significantly impacts exploration initiatives, bringing newfound challenges to project take-off and completion. Therefore, during the panel, speakers will explore this gap while making a strong case for alternative, expert-backed solutions.

If Africa is to make energy history in Africa by 2030, the continent needs to maximize utilizing all available resources. As such, African countries with energy resources have the potential to change the continent’s energy landscape, especially at this time of unprecedented global changes and large-scale developments set to establish a multipolar system. In spite of these, Africa needs to boost its energy security and work consistently towards energy self-sufficiency within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and within the African Union Agenda 2063.

Kester Kenn Klomegah

Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and a policy consultant on African affairs in the Russian Federation and Eurasian Union. He has won media awards for highlighting economic diplomacy in the region with Africa. Currently, Klomegah is a Special Representative for Africa on the Board of the Russian Trade and Economic Development Council. He enjoys travelling and visiting historical places in Eastern and Central Europe. Klomegah is a frequent and passionate contributor to Eurasia Review.

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