In the middle of a global oil and gas crisis, Africa must take charge of its own energy destiny, and use its rich resource assets for the benefit of its own people, according to former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo
His comments come as the world scrambles to find new sources of oil and gas to meet its energy needs following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In this context, Obasanjo says African countries cannot be beholden to the unrealistic ideals of the Global North for an exclusively renewables-driven economy. He says this is particularly true when the developed world is itself accepting the need for hydrocarbons.
“Like the rest of the world, Africa must follow energy policies that promote socio-economic development and sustainable hydrocarbon use,” he says.
“Africa is the lowest producer of greenhouse-gas emissions and needs to lift nearly half-a-billion citizens out of poverty. Responsible management of our hydrocarbons and investment in our economies is necessary to ensure a just energy transition and sustainable growth for our people.”
The European Union has said it intends to cut Russian-supplied oil by up to 90% by the end of 2022, and the announcement has already caused global energy costs to soar. Africa is one of the potential new sources of energy to replace this supply, with an estimated 61bn BOE (barrel oil equivalent) being discovered in the region over the past 10 years.
Obasanjo’s call for Africa to assert its energy sovereignty comes ahead of the Africa Oil Week (AOW) conference in South Africa, where energy companies, investors and governments will meet to negotiate deals that will shape the continent’s future.
The African Petroleum Producers' Organization (APPO) has also called on member countries and other global institutions to use petroleum as a catalyst for energy security, sustainable development and economic diversification in Africa through collaboration and partnerships.
Both Obasanjo and APPO have called for accelerated dialogue on the sustainable development of hydrocarbons, and the role of Africa as a supplier of global energy needs.
“There has been much talk at forums such as the World Economic Forum in Davos about a just energy transition,” says Obasanjo. “However, we must not allow Africa to be dictated to. “The discussions at AOW will be pivotal in charting a new energy course for Africa. We will decide what is best for us.”
Paul Sinclair, VP of Energy and director of government relations for AOW, says Africa is committed to a just and equitable transition to renewables.
“Critics make the mistake of thinking that Africa has abandoned renewable energy strategies. That is not the case,” says Sinclair. “The energy transition is exactly that, a transition that is part of Africa’s goal to reach net zero. However, oil and gas are required for the foreseeable future.”
The Africa Oil Week to be held from 3-7 October in Cape Town, offers four days of pioneering insights, from ministerial panels to strategic outlooks designed to drive investment into the African upstream for the benefit of the continent. At the heart of the event are some of the most compelling insights into the upstream strategies of governments from across the continent. These extensive and varied networking opportunities have resulted in an unprecedented return of delegates year after year.
AOW is globally renowned for bringing the most senior delegates together each year. In 2021, AOW welcomed 30+ ministers and government leaders, 2 000+ C-level delegates, representatives, and hundreds of SVPs and VPs of Africa, Exploration and New Ventures – making the event the most influential energy conference in Africa.