September 26, 2021

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Africa’s huge renewable energy potential remains under-utilised, says Orjiako, Seplat chair

The Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region remains an excellent hub for future upstream growth with opportunities and a ready market for diversification into other allied areas such as refining, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and power.

These among others were the views of Dr. ABC Orjiako, Chairman, Seplat Energy Plc, at the annual Sub-Saharan Africa Oil/Gas Conference held in Houston Texas, where he urged Africans and foreign investors alike to harness the growth potential of African developing countries to boost development and global growth.

Orjiako, the keynote speaker for the Oil/Gas Conference themed, “The Future of Upstream, Advancing Digitization and Gas Development Options in Sub-Saharan Africa”, said the challenges of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) present a significant opportunity for those seeking returns.

The chairman of Seplat is of firm belief that energy corporations must show responsibility in neutralising their respective emission footprints and sign up for climate change policies that will protect the environment, while SSA policy makers should embrace programmes that will strike the needed balance.

“The fastest-growing economies in the world lie in Africa/developing nations, considering Africa’s electricity/power deficit.”

As the world moves toward energy transition with Climate Change/ESG Advocacy/Policy Changes dominating the energy discussion, gas will continue to play an increasingly important role. Gas will play a strategic role as a transition fuel, boosting economic growth and development by providing needed energy access. 

“While we face headwinds of energy transition and the climate change narrative, we must see these as an opportunity to evolve and be resilient. Oil and gas will remain part of the energy mix, and, as such, we must be creative and environmentally responsible to survive and thrive”, Orjiako told the audience at the conference in Houston Texas.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group estimates that over 640 million Africans living in sub–Saharan Africa have no access to energy. This estimate means that the energy access rate for African countries is just under 40 per cent which is the lowest rate globally.

Africa has 13 per cent of the world’s population, but 48 per cent of the share of the global population without access to electricity.

On the positive side, Africa is rich in natural resources that can change the narrative on energy access on the continent. Sub-Saharan Africa has 63 billion barrels and 222 trillion cubic feet of proved oil and natural gas reserves, respectively. The energy potential in renewables is quite significant yet remains under-utilised mainly.

Hydropower accounts for around a 5th of current capacity, but less than 10 percent of its potential is being utilised. Similarly, the technical potential of solar, biomass, wind and geothermal energy is significant.

“While we see a substantial push to cleaner energy and focus on climate change, fossil fuels will remain an essential part of the overall energy mix, especially for emerging markets and developing countries. Fossil fuels (especially cleaner natural gas) remain a crucial game-changer for Africa regarding energy access”, Orjiako stated.

“We can draw a direct correlation between energy access and GDP growth where countries with low energy access have low GDP growth rates. Only seven countries in Africa – Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Namibia, Senegal, and South Africa have electricity access rates exceeding 50 per cent. The rest of the region has an average grid access rate of just 20 per cent”, Seplat chairman noted.

Seplat Energy Plc is on course with its strategic vision to “provide cleaner Energy Solutions to drive sustainable growth”. Seplat is prioritising Environmental, Social and corporate Governance (ESG) paradigms through its consistent midstream business development which is at the centre of Energy Transition Commitment.

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Source: news