Kyari Urges African Oil Industry Players to Prioritise Investment in Renewable Energy Infrastructure

•Wants industry stakeholders to take advantage of AfCFTA

Peter Uzoho

The Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari has called for collaboration among oil and gas industry players and policy makers in Africa in order to prioritise investment in renewable energy infrastructure, research and development, and capacity building.

Kyari also harped on the need for oil and gas industry stakeholders in the continent to take the landmark opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, to work collaboratively to address challenges that may arise from energy transition.

The NNPC GCEO made the calls during a special discussion organised by the Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN) on the sidelines of the ongoing Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) 2023, holding in Houston, Texas, United States.

The theme of the PETAN-organised discussion was: “Energy Transition in Africa: The Journey, Challenges and the Way Forward”, while the central theme of the OTC 2023 was: “Delivering the Future of Offshore Technology.”

Kyari, who was represented at the event by the Executive Vice President, Upstream Business, NNPC, Mr. Adokiye Tombomieye, noted that it was only through collaboration that they could achieve energy security, transition to cleaner energy, unlock the potential of Africa’s abundant renewable energy resources and ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for all.

According to him, “the energy transition in Africa presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities. To deliver the future of offshore energy, we must work together to prioritise investments in renewable energy infrastructure, research and development, and capacity building.

“Only through collaboration can we achieve energy security and transition to cleaner energy, unlocking the potential of Africa’s abundant renewable energy resources and ensuring a sustainable and prosperous future for all.”

He observed that the theme of the discussion was apt, pointing out that the journey towards energy transition in Africa had been challenging.

Despite being home to some of the world’s largest oil and gas reserves, Kyari stated that the continent had struggled to leverage these resources to drive sustainable development fully.

Furthermore, he noted that the lack of access to reliable and affordable energy had significantly impeded economic growth and development, particularly in rural areas.

Kyari, maintained that the African oil and gas industry had contributed to the continent’s economic growth for several decades, adding that there was no point overemphasising the need to ensure its sustainability.

“However, moving towards a more sustainable future, we must acknowledge that the industry is transforming rapidly.

As we gather here today, it is essential to acknowledge that Africa is at the forefront of the global energy transition.

“The journey towards a sustainable, low-carbon energy future presents challenges and opportunities for the continent.

The energy transition is driving changes in the global energy mix, and it presents significant challenges for Africa (financing, infrastructure, policy/regulatory frameworks, skills and capacity).

“We must adopt a strategic approach to address them to ensure that we remain competitive, sustainable and relevant in the years to come,” Kyari canvassed.

Despite the challenges facing the continent, the GCEO pointed out that Africa has several opportunities for energy access, economic growth, environmental sustainability, and regional integration in the energy transition.

He said some levels of progress had been attained from exploiting several opportunities, resulting in a growing interest in renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydropower, as well as an increasing focus on energy efficiency and conservation.

He admitted that governments, private sector players, and civil society organisations had all played essential roles in driving this change.

He forecasted that in the next 20 years, energy demand in Africa was expected to increase by 30-35 per cent to support the projected increase in population and industrialisation.

This, Kyari said, presents an enormous opportunity for the players to form partnerships across the continent and build a sustainable future.

He said, “Therefore, we must also discuss the options that abound in energy transition with the AfCFTA to balance economic growth with environmental sustainability.

“One of the key factors shaping this transition is the AfCFTA, which aims to create a single market for goods and services, promote cross-border trade and investment, and enhance economic integration across the continent.

“As an industry, we must take advantage of the opportunities presented by this landmark agreement and work collaboratively to address the challenges that may arise.”

Kyari, maintained that several reforms must be pursued rigorously to diversify Africa’s energy mix, enhance local content and capacity building, embrace technology and innovation, and strengthen partnerships and collaboration.

According to him, partnerships were required as more African countries continue to make hydrocarbon discoveries.

He enjoined all the industry stakeholders to collaborate, share knowledge and help each other in critical areas, including technology, exploration and production, research and development, technical expertise and human capacity development to spread the wealth within the continent.

At NNPC Limited, Kyari said they understand the importance of partnership in achieving a sustainable energy industry in Africa.

He said the company had worked closely with countries, companies and other stakeholders to develop innovative solutions to meet the continent’s energy needs, as demonstrated in the progress of the 5,600Km Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline to supply gas to Europe through Morocco and the 13 ECOWAS member countries.

Kyari, however, seized the opportunity to thank PETAN for always being ahead of the curve, adding that NNPC Limited was fully committed to partnering with all players in the energy industry to drive Africa’s energy sector towards sustainability and growth to guarantee “our Energy for Today and Energy for Tomorrow.”

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