…as Africa Oil Week opens in South Africa
Udeme Akpan, Energy Editor, Cape Town
Despite the global clamor for energy transition, Nigeria and other African oil and gas producing countries, yesterday, insisted on increased investment in gas as their transition fuel.
The countries, including Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda, whose representatives spoke at the VIP and Ministerial Symposium of this year’s Africa Oil Week, in Cape Town, South Africa, said the continent would continue to explore, produce, utilize and export its gas in order to generate maximum foreign exchange for sustainable development.
Speaking at the event, the former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, who is also the Africa Oil Week Ambassador, Dr. Ibe kachukwu, said: “We need an Afrocentric Energy transition. Africa must look after its own interests. We must be fair to ourselves.”
Dr Kachikwu, who noted that there were still many untapped opportunities in the gas sector, encouraged strategies like forming alliances with Arab energy producers, supporting domestic producers, and diversifying into downstream energy businesses.
He said: “We must not pace ourselves according to emotion,” he said. “Our transition must be driven by Afrocentrism – by what is in the best interests of Africa’s people.”
Similarly, the South African Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe, who welcomed more than 30 energy ministers from across the continent to the event, said: “We need an energy mix that will sustain our development.”
He said: “The real issue is in the detail of that transition. The African energy transition must be systemic, it must be people-centric, and it must be community-focused.”
Also speaking, the Uganda Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Ruth Nankabirwa, said: “Some members of the international community are opposing this. It is like they are asking Africa to be poor. Oil and gas are an asset that we plan to use to lift our people out of poverty in Uganda.”
Nankabirwa said the international community’s call for Africa to avoid developing its own resources was particularly galling, considering that the continent contributes only 3.8 per cent to global carbon emissions.
He said: “Investors must make money – we have no problem with that,” said Mantashe. But they must also add value in the African communities where they operate.”
In his keynote remarks, Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, African Union, said that whether it was equity, access, or social development, Africa needed to ensure that it chose energy sources that were in the continent’s best interests.
He said: “We must ensure that we are the ones setting the African agenda and not blindly following someone else’s agenda. Africa has never been a climate denier. We want to work with the world and for the world.”