Sahara Group’s Quest for Zero Carbon Emission, Sustainable Development in Africa

In its quest for sustainable development, Sahara Group, including Asharami Energy, Egbin Power Plant, and Ikeja Electric, has pledged to achieve zero carbon emissions from its oil and gas operations by 2060. At the inaugural edition of Asharami Asharami Square, a pioneering initiative aimed at advancing the reportage of issues related to sustainability through impactful media advocacy, the group unveiled practicable strategies to earn carbon credit, Chiemelie Ezeobi reports 

Leading energy and infrastructure conglomerate, Sahara Group, recently unveiled its target of achieving zero carbon emissions from its oil and gas operations by 2060. According to the company, it has alongside its sister companies in the energy value chain have started arrangements to reduce carbon emissions and earn carbon credit for a sustainable future.

This commitment, which was disclosed at a forum with journalists tagged: “Carbon Footprint And The African Narrative” held by Sahara Group and the Asharami Square in Lagos, was shared by Sahara Group sister companies like Asharami Energy, Egbin Power Plant, and Ikeja Electric, and is aimed at significantly reducing carbon emissions and earn carbon credits for a sustainable future.

Asides the interactive panel, speakers at the maiden edition of Asharami Square were Sahara Group Head, Cooperate Communications, Bethel Obioma; Ejiro Gray; Foluso Sobanjo, Head, Downstream Africa, Sahara Group; Wole Ajeigbe, Group Projects Manager, Asharami Energy (A Sahara Group Upstream Company); Mokhtar Bounour, CEO Egbin Power Plc; Ogochukwu Onyelucheya, Chief Commercial Officer, Ikeja Electric; Prof. Sunday Adebisi, Professor of Entrepreneurship Hub & Strategic Management, University of Lagos; ChiChi Aniagolu-Okoye, Regional Director, West Africa, Ford Foundation; Eugene O. Itua, CEO Natural Eco Capital; and Dr. Marcel Mbamalu, CEO Newstide Publications Limited.

At the parley, Dr. Chichi Aniagolu-Okoye, Regional Director, West Africa at Ford Foundation, underscored Africa’s minimal contribution to global emissions (about four per cent) despite housing 17 per cent of the global population. She urged strategic planning to leverage opportunities for a sustainable environment.

Strategic Approach to Decarbonising Africa’s Upstream Operations

Wole Ajeigbe, Group Project Manager at Asharami Energy, highlighted the company’s strategic approach to decarbonising Africa’s upstream operations, emphasising efforts across its seven oil-producing assets in Nigeria. 

 Ajeigbe detailed Sahara Energy’s incremental plan to achieve net zero emissions by reducing and minimising carbon output annually. 

Key initiatives include eliminating gas flaring, reducing freshwater usage, and implementing Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS). Sahara Energy is also the first African company to join the global CCUS forum, showcasing its commitment to sustainable practices. 

 The company is also progressing with gas commercialisation projects slated for completion by 2025-2026. Ajeigbe stressed the importance of government support through tax incentives, risk mitigation, and capital availability to stimulate investment in decarbonisation projects. 

Understanding Carbon Footprints 

 Ms. Ogochukwu Onyelucheya, Chief Commercial Officer at Ikeja Electric, emphasised the importance of understanding the carbon footprint and its implications. 

She explained, “The footprint we look at encompasses everything we do, marking carbon emissions in our environment and energy sectors. While Africa’s contribution to global carbon emissions is low, we must avoid the mistakes made by developed countries and solve our problems faster.” 

She also discussed Africa’s energy transition, highlighting the need to leverage local resources. “Lagos, for instance, should be powered by hydropower given its wetland resources. By focusing on renewable energy sources like solar and hydropower, we can reduce reliance on the national grid and lower energy costs,” she stated. 

Strategies to Mitigate Carbon Emissions 

 Ejiro Gray, Director of Governance and Sustainability at Sahara Group, outlined various strategies to mitigate carbon emissions, including natural gas development, renewable energy expansion, and protection of natural carbon sinks, adding that already, the company is also promoting tree planting initiatives and youth awareness campaigns to enhance sustainability. 

“Protecting and rehabilitating Africa’s natural carbon sinks, such as forests, oceans, coastal mangroves, wetlands and grasslands can significantly aid in mitigating the effects of climate change”, Gray said, adding that these developing intentional policies and investments on protecting the continent’s carbon sinks would enhance carbon sequestration and reduce net emissions.

She said these natural landscapes act as significant carbon reservoirs, absorbing and storing carbon dioxide (CO₂) from the atmosphere, adding that developing reforestation and afforestation programs, implementing strict conservation policies, and providing financial incentives for conservation projects are critical for combating climate change in Africa.

According to Gray, Natural Gas Development and Commercialisation, Increase Use of Renewables, investment in low-cost / low emissions clean energy solutions, Carbon Capture Storage / Carbon Capture and Reutilisation are other factors that can help accelerate Africa’s march towards sustainability.

“Natural gas presents a viable opportunity to serve as a transition fuel as Africa continues to gradually invest in renewable energy. It is a relatively clean-burning fossil fuel, producing fewer CO₂ emissions compared to coal or petroleum. In 2021, Africa’s natural gas reserves totalled over 620 trillion cubic feet. 

“By developing and monetising these reserves through processing and eventual usage of CNG, LNG, LPG and other gas products, Africa can leverage its natural gas resources to support sustainable energy development,” Gray noted. 

Role of Media in Promoting Sustainability 

Speaking on the role of the media in promoting sustainability, Bethel Obioma, Head, Corporate Communications at Sahara Group said Africa needs to articulate and promote a robust sustainability narrative that leaves no one behind in issues relating to climate change, energy access and energy transition, among others.

He said globally, sustainability reporting in the media has seen significant growth and development, reflecting a broader trend towards transparency and accountability in corporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices. Increasingly, corporate organisations now disclose their policies and targets related to emissions reduction, resource conservation, biodiversity, and other issues.

Therefore, he said it was imperative to support media organisations and journalists covering these issues through capacity building programs. 

“This would help journalists achieve a clearer understanding of the issues and empower the media to play the critical role of monitoring, agenda-setting, transparent reporting, awareness creation and galvanising collective action from the public on how best to approach the subject-matter of sustainability,” Obioma said.

He also announced the establishment of Asharami Square, a platform for journalist training and mentorship, along with the Asharami Awards to recognise contributions to sustainability in Africa.

The initiative is in partnership with the University of Lagos and Pan Atlantic University to foster skills in sustainability practices. This forward-thinking approach positions Sahara Energy as a leader in driving Africa’s energy sector toward a greener, more sustainable future.

“To achieve this, Sahara Group hopes to make Asharami Square a formidable platform through advocacy and collaboration towards shoring up capacity and participation of all segments of the media to drive accuracy, clarity, impact, positive policy formulation, agenda-setting and collective action,” he said.

Obioma said Asharami Square would feature mentoring, training, exchange programs, facility tours for media practitioners and competitions to recognise and celebrate exceptional reporting of sustainability in the media. 

In the maiden edition, BusinessDay, was awarded with the 

Asharami Square’s Sustainable Media Reporting Excellence as a foremost provider of business and financial intelligence and insight in West Africa. 


Panel session at the “Carbon Footprint And The African Narrative” held by Sahara Group and the Asharami Square

Ejiro Gray, Director of Governance and Sustainability at Sahara Group (left) with Bethel Obioma, Head of Corporate Communications at Sahara Group (right) presenting the Asharami Square’s Sustainable Media Reporting Excellence award to 

BusinessDay, as a foremost provider of business and financial intelligence and insight in West Africa

Related Articles