Local and international experts from diverse sectors and government officials, on Thursday pointed to how Nigeria can play a critical role in the transition to sustainable energy system in Africa.
The discussion was at the Seplat Energy Summit 2020 with the theme “Business Sustainability and Strategic Leadership in Africa” which provided valuable insights on the challenges and role of energy systems to build sustainable Africa economies.
“We need to leverage on Africa over 527 TCF proven natural gas reserves and use that side by side complementary to building up our renewables profile as well which Nigeria should be championing,” Audrey Joe-Ezigbo, president, Nigerian Gas Association said at the event.
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Over time, Africa is faced with enormous challenges of meeting its vision of accelerated economic and industrial development with limited access to energy for its growing population.
Roger Brown, incoming CEO of Seplat said Africa as a continent needed to develop that base load from which it can build from and drive its gas agenda which Nigeria can lead through renewable energy.
On expectation from the government which will allow Nigeria play a leading role, Brown said the government should support oil firms through partnerships in joint venture agreement, more support in competing transactions and approvals and clearer legislature.
Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, chairman, Corporate Social Responsibility Committee, SEPLAT board said African energy was caught in two overlapping revolutions which include shifting from being a supplier to the global markets to a supplier to a pan African regional market and the dramatic potential change in the energy mix as it shifts from fossil fuels to renewables.
“Africa is right up there as one of the most dynamic growing markets, also the continent has some of the most important potential renewable assets in the world,” Malloch-Brown said.
Most stakeholders have said lack of access to power constrains new economic growth and negatively affects life expectancy and quality of life.
On how to finance the energy sector in African, former director-general of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Arunma Oteh asked energy companies to not only rigorously optimise cash flow by rigorous cost-cutting but also rationalisation asset portfolio.
“They should try and divest non-performing assets, optimise investments in merge and acquisitions and explore other financial structures,” Oteh said.
Oscar Onyema, CEO of Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), said domestic investors were still willing to continue to put money into oil and gas sector. However, he warned that the oil and gas sector would continue to experience external pressure throughout 2020.
He explained that the global pace of growth and the intensity of the trade tensions between the US and China would continue to be the determining factors for investments.
President and chairman of the board of directors, African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim), Benedict Oramah said the future for Africa was integration which is why African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was put in place to create a harmonised approach that will distribute energy in a way that allows direct consumption.
Mele Kyari, group managing director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said Africa has huge gas resources, particularly in Nigeria, which can be harnessed use of power industrialisation and also leverage for other opportunities.
“We must not lose sight of the fact that the world is transiting to renewable,” Kyari said, adding that “gas business is the future.”
Kyari again stressed the need for the quick completion of the Trans Africa Pipeline project and the elimination of trade barriers among countries in Africa.
According to Kyari, the continent needs to break down the walls restricting trade on the continent.
Seplat’s chairman, Ambrosie Orjiako said the company would continue to be a trailblazer as the business environment changes.
“Seplat’s growing gas business will become a very audacious first step towards making sure that our operations are aligned with the climate change narrative,” Orjiako said.
Minister of state for petroleum resources, Timipre Sylva commended Seplat on its achievements and remarkable successes within just 10 years in the Nigerian oil and gas sector.