By Eric Ojo, Abuja
The African Energy Chamber, an organization working with indigenous companies across Africa to optimize their reach and networks, has reiterated the need to tackle the problems facing the energy industry in the continent.
Africa Energy Chamber said in order to guarantee the future of Africa’s dynamic energy industry, efforts must intensified and directed towards providing efficient energy and jobs to all Africans, adding that it is time to create aggressive market-driven policies that spur economic growth in the industry.
To achieve this, Chamber which is committed to upholding result-focused environment for companies operating in the industry across Africa, has advocated for better regulatory frameworks, local content development, women empowerment and cross-border cooperation in the continent.
Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman, African Energy Chamber and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Centurion Law Group, who disclosed this in his remarks at the opening ceremony of Africa Oil & Power (AOP) Conference and Exhibition in Cape Town, said the conference is aimed at addressing the challenges in the industry.
“We are here at AOP not only to highlight success stories but also to have an honest conversation with each other on what needs to be done for our industry, and follow a roadmap to successful implementation on core issues such as regulations and local content policies, the empowerment of women, infrastructure development, cross-border cooperation and fiscal frameworks,” he said.
The AOP Conference and Exhibition, according to statement distributed on behalf of the Chamber by APO Group, is seeking solutions to make energy work better for Africans and investors. The event is attended by hundreds of senior government officials and energy executives from across Africa and the world
On the issue of regulations and the creation of a better enabling environment for investors and businesses, he harped on the need for fair regulations that are supportive of local industries whole encouraging international investments.
“Look to Ghana, the country has built an oil and gas regulatory framework from scratch and built a reputation for transparency and regulatory certainty. Its projects are getting off the drawing board and Ghana is already a serious African producer.
“Regulations have to be progressive, so what matters is to implement regulations that set the ground for the development of a sustainable, local content-oriented and jobs-creating industry”, he added.
Ayuk also cited Nigeria as a classic example of a country that is getting it right when it comes to the issue of local content development.
In his words, “On local content, look to Nigeria. It has used its oil and gas as a jumping off point for overall economic development and building up domestic capacities from the ground up while providing the right opportunities for the establishment and growth of strong local companies across the value chain”, he further explained.
While buttressing the need to strengthen women empowerment across Africa’s energy industry, he said South Africa has made some remarkable progress. South Africa, according to him, boasts of some of the strongest leaders in Africa’s oil and gas sector. He added that diversity will change the industry for the best and needs to be a priority.
“At the core of the African Energy Chamber’s message is the call to women empowerment across Africa’s energy industry. From creating strong educational and training programmes to implementing progressive policies in the workplace, the Chamber has advocated for better policies that provide women equal opportunities in the workplace and across the industry”, he stressed.
On the issues of infrastructure development and cross-border cooperation in the continent, Ayuk noted that in many cases, lack of infrastructure is severely holding back economic and social development, including a lack of roads, pipelines, ports and airports is stopping exploration and production in its tracks, as well as delaying the progress of otherwise economically viable progress.
He further posited that cross-border cooperation is the key to unlocking the potential of the continent, adding that Senegal and Mauritania have set the pace in cross-border cooperation.
“They both have already shown Africa that putting its differences aside and working towards co-developing projects is beneficial for African economies and their people.
“The GTA project is a landmark project in that regard, and one that will profoundly impact the socio-economic development in both countries. The major step to encourage future such collaboration and projects is to simply keep the dialogue open and engage more”, he added.
Also speaking at the event in line with the conference theme, #MakeEnergyWork, South Africa’s Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, emphasized the importance of developing a thriving energy sector as a means to encouraging economic growth, noting that the sector is “part of an effort that is a catalyst to economic growth”.
On the country’s energy future, he said that natural gas would be a key part of South Africa’s energy mix. He added that projects like the Coega development in the Eastern Cape province would be at the core of this strategy.
“This ambitious project for us will be a game changer, those who are waking up to take the opportunity will actually benefit from that development. It is quite a test for us because we need to get into gas in a big way”, he further explained.
The Minister also used the opportunity to announce that the country’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) would be concluded within days.
“By Wednesday, I am very hopeful that the IRP would be concluded, and we will gazette it” he said. Adding that, “the plan will lay the foundation for investment in power generation. Such an investment should have the impact of lowering the cost of doing business in our country”, he stressed.
The noted that the potential investment that could come as a result of a finalized IRP, which represents a key component of South Africa’s energy strategy. He therefore invited investors to enter the South African market.
“Come to the fore, we are ready for you. Talk to us”, he added.
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