Seplat Energy PLC, a leading Nigerian independent energy company listed on both the Nigerian Exchange and the London Stock Exchange, will be leading discussions around energy transition, energy security and gas development in Africa at the 2023 edition of the Africa Oil Week (AOW) at Cape Town, South Africa
Roger Brown, the company’s CEO, is confirmed to deliver a keynote address dubbed ‘How Seplat is Driving Sustainability Through Energy Transition and Security in Nigeria’. Brown is also billed to speak on a panel session titled ‘Monetising Africa’s Gas in the Next Seven to Ten Years’.
The event organised by Hyve Events, will be focusing on ‘Maximising Africa’s Natural Resources in the Global Energy Transition’.
The 2023 AOW, which will bring together stakeholders in the global energy industry, aims to chart the path for sustainable development, in the quest to combat climate change and build a sustainable future for the planet, the global energy landscape is undergoing a profound transformation. The shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources in response to the challenges of climate change and resource depletion is however uneven in its adoption. There are profound and fundamental differences between the capacity of the global north and that of the global south to effect a just energy transition that protects the economic stability and food security of its people.
The African continent which holds massive reserves of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas, also has abundant renewable energy resources including solar, wind, hydro and geothermal energy. The continent needs to leverage these resources to contribute to the decarbonisation of the planet at the same time as increasing energy security for itself.
In Africa, economic growth and development is inextricably connected to access to a reliable and affordable energy supply. Most of the world’s 800 million people who do not have that luxury live in the African continent. The just energy transition and provision of energy security in Africa cannot be determined by environmental objectives alone. Energy poverty perpetuates economic poverty and the Paris Accord goals need to be balanced against Africa’s own ability to ensure energy security leads to economic prosperity.
Increased access to traditional forms of energy derived from fossil fuels will necessarily generate more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and this is naturally a concern for African countries who want to contribute to decarbonisation. But solutions to the imperative to scale up access to safer and more sustainable energy need to be politically expedient and transparent, economically viable, to include social goals including ending energy poverty and social marginalisation and to be sustainable.
As we prepare for a lower carbon world, we must balance those imperatives with climate resilient systems on a continent that is susceptible to adverse weather conditions such as floods and droughts that threaten food security.
Benefits of the transition
The benefits for Africa of making a transition from fossil fuels to green energy sources are multiple. Although many countries in Africa mine rich fossil fuel reserves, many others rely on imported fuel. This leaves them vulnerable to supply chain disruptions (for example due to port closures during the Covid-19 pandemic) as well as currency volatility. Localisation of energy supply and production is an opportunity to reduce the continent’s reliance on external and unpredictable sources.
Renewable energy sources including wind and sun are not as susceptible to fluctuating weather patterns as other supplies and are relatively constant. Transitioning to these alternative energy sources ultimately makes the continent more resilient to climate change.
Renewables can also feed into independent power grids. This means that communities in remote and rural areas can more easily have access to a reliable energy source which takes the pressure off existing national infrastructure.
The development of alternative energy sources is also a driver of job creation and additional economic activity. Improved socio-economic conditions and stability can also contribute to energy security by reducing social disparities.
Energy transition not without its challenges
There are many considerations for African countries when making the transition to renewable energy. One of these includes communities’ reliance on mining extraction and exploration operations for their livelihoods. Seplat is already assisting those communities in which it is present to prepare for a time when the company is no longer there. With new technologies comes the need for new expertise and so skills training and transfer can assist when the end of fossil fuel extraction leads to job losses.
The costs of establishing infrastructure to support power generation of renewables is high. It is essential that African governments seeking to make the transition find innovative funding models and work in public private partnerships to drive appropriate investment.
As Africa grapples with energy security and the eventual transition from fossil fuels to lower carbon alternatives, new regulatory and legislative frameworks need to be put in place to promote that investment and to create a conducive environment for energy transition.
Striking a balance between energy security, poverty reduction and economic growth when effecting the energy transition is a complex process. Each country has its own development goals and a ‘one size fits all’ solution does not apply.
Energy transition holds immense potential for Africa to contribute to global decarbonisation goals, to mitigate the impact of climate change on the continent, and to improve energy security for its people. It offers opportunities for job creation, skills transfer and economic growth and development.
Multi stakeholder collaboration between governments and the private sector will be pivotal in the supporting African nations in their move to greater self-reliance and a greener and more sustainable future. At Seplat Energy, the role of leaving a positive legacy for future generations is taken very seriously. The company is committed to its environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals, with an emphasis on social considerations. When scaling sustainability solutions, affordability and accessibility remain reference points.