By Bassey Udo
For Africa to achieve sustainable development, it will need a strong energy capital to power its economies and export energy.
The Chief Executive Officer, Seplat Energy Plc, Roger Brown stated this at the World Energy Capital Assembly (WECA) in London where he delivered a keynote dubbed, “Accessing Capital for Energy Projects in Africa”.
Brown said the world could increase global energy security and ensure everyone had access to affordable and reliable energy, stressing that Africa had the capacity not only to be self-sufficient energy-wise, but also to export energy to areas of need.
“We can, through investment in Africa’s energy infrastructure, help to accelerate development in Africa, to increase prosperity and improve its chances of achieving all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” Brown said.
“And we can help to guide Africa’s energy transition by encouraging investment in lower-carbon sources of energy, while at the same time encouraging Africa, at both government and corporate levels, to improve ESG performance, meaning better environmental care through lower emissions, creating jobs and helping social development, and by improving governance at all levels. Thus, energy capital wins, Africa wins and the environment wins. We can achieve all these wins at little incremental cost to the environment,” he added.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, he said the largest infrastructure deficit was in the power sector.
Whether measured in terms of generation capacity, electricity consumption, or security of supply, he said Africa’s power infrastructure delivers only a fraction of the service found elsewhere.
West Africa, Brown noted, has one of the lowest rates of electricity access in the world, with only about 42 percent of the total population (half of the global access rate of 87 percent), and 8 percent of rural residents having access to electricity.
Fewer than half of the utilities in sub-Saharan Africa, he further explained, recover their operating costs due to the shortage of local capacity and end-user payment issues, resulting in GDP losses as high as 4 percent in some countries
Lack of access to modern and reliable energy, the Seplat Energy CEO noted, was one of the most important bottlenecks for the development of higher value-added services and industries across Sub-Saharan Africa, adding that improving energy security was a vital tool for reducing vulnerabilities to external price shocks and for building the foundations for sustainable growth
Brown said energy security implied a country’s ability to ensure integrity of assets and developed markets.
“It measures capacity to meet current and future energy demand reliably in areas such as power generation, operating costs, evacuation and distribution network integrity”, he said.
This indicator, he explained, has achieved 40 percent growth from 2000 to 2021 (however more needs to be done to develop reliable and secure energy).
“The region needs greater investments to cover the energy infrastructure gap and bridge the shortage of energy supply and energy services,” he advised.
Energy equity, Brown explained, assesses a country’s ability to provide universal access to reliable, affordable, and abundant energy for domestic and commercial use practically measured by access to electricity, energy costs and quantum of on-grid and off-grid supply, amongst others..
“There has been progress over the last decade, but most of Sub-Saharan Africa still lacks basic access to electricity and clean cooking facilities. Clean, affordable and reliable energy is urgently required to improve livelihoods and lifestyles,” he added.
Speaking on environmental sustainability, the Seplat Energy CEO said this highlights the transition of a country’s energy system towards mitigating potential environmental harm and climate change impact.
This, he said, could be measured in terms of renewable energy consumption, structure of carbon markets and policies, energy transition measures and climate policies, amongst others.
“This is the region’s strongest dimension, but it is still trailing behind its European and North American counterparts. More needs to be done by way of better governance of energy resources, infrastructure investments, access to appropriate technologies, and policies to improve the overall energy systems management and development in a more sustainable way.”
Capital providers, he pointed out, would choose their partners in Africa carefully, by putting into strong consideration international and local accountability, robust finances, environmental commitment, good relationships, and strong leadership.