Cape Town, SA – 12 October 2023: Affordable and reliable energy provides the right platform for businesses in Africa to create and retain jobs for its fast growing population and further make the Continent sustainable.
Access to energy and energy security remains critical for the Continent, and Africa needs “affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern electricity for all” to drive the realization of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 7.
The Chief Executive Officer of Seplat Energy Plc, Mr. Roger Brown said this whilst delivering a Keynote at the ongoing Africa Oil Week (AOW) in Cape Town, South Africa, themed “How Seplat is Driving Sustainability Through Energy Transition and Security in Nigeria.”
According to the Brown, up to 600 million Africans have little or no access to energy, because energy infrastructure had remained poor and lacking the right investments. “Affordable and reliable energy allows businesses to create jobs in Africa giving the fast growing population a future in their country of birth, thereby avoiding mass migration,” he told attendees at the conference.
He added: ”900 million Africans cook using biomass, and this is causing all sorts of problems – it steals time from the women and children who have to collect firewood for cooking, it causes smoke pollution that in turn causes poor health, and it’s estimated to cost the lives of nearly 500,000 Africans every year. This is unacceptable and we need to change it.
This is the problem we have to solve for Africa and its people, not just the billion Africans today but the 2.5 billion that will call this amazing continent home in 30 years’ time.
In a few years from now, 50 per cent of people with no access to electricity will be living in just seven countries, Nigeria being one of them.
The Seplat Energy CEO further explained that: “Where people do have access to electricity, as is the case in Nigeria, it’s often from small-scale generators that run on diesel or petrol, which we have to import, and that’s part of the problem we have to address, especially in Nigeria. So, it’s clear we need to increase access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy, but at the moment only 3 per cent of the world’s investment in energy systems goes into Africa.”
Africa, he stressed, has the right to develop and must use its natural resources to do that, noting that the transition cannot be funded solely by debt or outsourced.
He said countries like Nigeria needs to move away from reliance on diesel/PMS generators, as that will improve health, and lower cost of electricity, which is severely holding back development in all sectors.
Gas is the transition solution; upstream oil and gas development is critical to fund the transition but needs to eliminate theft, flaring and leaks, and operate with lower carbon intensity.
Brown added: “Africa needs to balance the “E” and “S” in ESG. North and South must work together to ensure ‘Development’ and ‘Climate’ do not become competing objectives, with the loser being ‘Social Development’. “Raising investment for energy transition will boost Nigeria’s economy; drive development; create jobs and prosperity; reduce emissions vs status quo; underpin future renewable deployment; and support a Just and Affordable Energy Transition.”
Alo speaking during a panel session dubbed “Monetising Africa’a Gas in the Next 7 to 10 Years” Brown said Africa should maximise the benefits of its gas resources to the continent with minimal risks, noting that a blend of domestic, regional, and international supply of the resource is required to build roadmaps for a balanced gas monetisation strategy.
“A blend of domestic utilisation, regional use and export of gas from Africa will maximises the benefits of gas to the continent with minimal risks. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals also identified access to power as one of the key goals,” he said.
With significant part of African nations still lacking access to electricity, the Seplat Energy CEO advocated the importance for African nations to develop the Continent’s abundant gas resources to promote domestic access to clean power, which will double to further the drive towards decarbonization.
He added: “Understanding of the current and potential domestic gas demands will underpin the roadmaps. On a regional scale, the nations of Africa must also put in place the necessary infrastructures to transport and distribute gas within the region, ensuring the availability of affordable and reliable gas supplies to African nations.
“This will also help to promote intra-African trade, developments, and improved regional cooperation. Gas exports to the international gas markets will help the nations to earn foreign exchange inflows to support their developmental needs.”
Also speaking on panel session themed “The Energy Industry Value Proposition – Amplification of the ‘S’ in ESG”, the Director External Affairs & Sustainability at Seplat Energy, Chioma Afe, said in driving a sustainable African continent, social issues around internal and external stakeholder management must be holistically addressed by operators or businesses in the energy space.
“The issues around creating social opportunities for communities, infrastructural and human capital development, among others, should be the conversation. It goes beyond the internal situation in the organisation. The whole idea is to have a more sustainable and truly diverse experience across board,” she said.