By Bassey Udo
African oil and gas producers must harness their potentials to rescue the continent’s over 1.5 bilion population from abject energy poverty, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Wednesday.
Buhari spoke at the second meeting of the Chief Executive Officers of the African Petroleum Producers Organisation (APPO) Member Countries’ National Oil and Gas Companies hosted by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited in Abuja
Buhari was represented by the Buhari was represented by the Minister of State for Petroleum2e Resources, Timipre Sylva.
The President said it was unacceptable in this modern age for over 600 million people in Africa not to have access to electricity, while another 900 million have no access to clean cooking fuel.
Consequently, he said Africa’s imminent mission should be to rescue the vast population of African people from abject energy poverty.
“We should harness all our abundant and varied energy resources, including fossil fuels and renewable resources, to assure, not only availability and accessibility, but also
affordability and sustainability, to meet Africa’s increasing energy
demand,” the President told the meeting.
Regardless, Buhari said the pursuit of this objective did not imply ignoring the challenge of carbon dioxide emissions and the concerns about climate change fueling the quest for energy transition.
He urged the CEOs of the NOCs to clarify that energy transition did not imply the abandonment of some energy sources.
Energy transition, he pointed out, was all about providing clean energy, and not about discriminating between energy sources, since all available energy sources would be required to end the high level of energy poverty in Africa and achieve the sustainable
development goal of providing access to affordable, reliable,
sustainable and modern energy for all.
He urged the meeting to
deliberate on strategies to harness financial resources and
development to face challenge posed by the global energy transition.
“We need to develop cross-border infrastructure and expand regional energy market to guarantee long-term energy security,” he said.
On the significance of the meeting, the President said the decision to revive and empower the meeting was taken by the Ministerial Council as part of the reform and restructuring of APPA to APPO in recognition of the role NOCs would need to play towards the survival and development of the oil and gas industry in Africa.
The President said fresh challenges the African oil and gas industry was grappling with as a result of the global energy transition would require both inclusive and pragmatic approaches to resolve.
He said both the policy makers and industry operators have crucial roles to play to find the solutions to~ the challenges.
The President urged the meeting to identify practical challenges they were either facing alreay, or likely to face in years to come, to guide the policy making process of the political leadership in the continent.
Africa, he noted, was currently at
the receiving end of the double devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, adding that there was an urgent need to plan for Africa’s energy future.
The goal of the continent’s plan, Buhari said, should be energy sufficiency, to ensure energy security, end the ravaging energy poverty in Africa and drive her economic breakthrough.
Despite the challenge posed by the global energy transition, Buhari expressed optimism that the future of Africa’s oil and gas industry was still bright, urging to strive to make it a reality.
Participants at the meeting included representatives of the
Angolan oil company, SONAGOL, along with its counterparts from Cameroun (SNH); Congo Brazzaville (SNPC); Democratic Republic of Congo (SONA HYDRO);
Equitorial Guinea (SONGAS); Gabon (GOC); Ghana (GNPC); Niger Republic (SONIDEP) and the host, Nigeria’s NNPC.
Ministers of Energy and Hydrocarbon of Equatorial Guinea and Niger were also at the meeting