With the next COP27 set to be hosted in Africa and under a different scenario to previous editions – oil, gas and nuclear has returned to the scene as crucial for global energy security and for ensuring stable economic growth – a ministerial panel discussion during African Energy Week (AEW) 2022 emphasized the need for a unified message regarding the energy transition, one that will be taken from AEW in Cape Town to COP27 in Egypt.
Moderated by Mohamed Fouad, Founder and CEO, Egypt Oil & Gas, high-level speakers included H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbon, Equatorial Guinea; H.E. Sophie Gladima, Minister of Petroleum and Energies, Senegal; H.E Mahamane Sani Mahamadou, Minister, Ministry of Petroleum of Niger; NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman, African Energy Chamber; and Hon. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Minister, Ministry of Resources of Energy, Ghana.
Kicking off the session, H.E Tarek El-Molla, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Egypt delivered a keynote presentation, stating that, “This year, COP27 represents an opportunity to articulate Africa’s priorities to reducing emissions, accessing appropriate funding and addressing climate repercussions. We cannot deny that oil and gas represent an essential resource globally and will remain part of the energy mix for the long term. Our goal is to provide these resources more responsibly. I am optimistic about the Egyptian and African efforts to collaborate on a just energy transition in Africa.”
Thereafter, the panel discussion kicked off to an electric start, with speakers emphasizing the need to face COP27 with common positions on how the energy transition should look like for the continent in the near future in order to improve intra-continental cooperation and investment with the goal of eliminating energy poverty. During the discussion, insight was given as to whether an African just energy transition can be compatible with a global energy transition and whether or not the continent will be able to speak with one voice at COP27.
“Every single Minister of oil and gas in Africa finally speaks with the same voice. It will be very important if we have a united voice. We have worked with APPO and the AU and the parties going to Egypt. In Egypt, they will hear loud and clear our position on the energy transition and regarding energy security, those are our priorities,” stated H.E. Minister Lima, adding that, “We should be talking about energy security. Once we achieve this, then we should start talking about energy transition.”
Expanding on what H.E. Minister Lima shared, H.E. Minister Gladima stated that, “I think that during this week we have discussed at length the future of Africa. The main issue that we all agree on is funding. Funding has been cut, and even though we have a gas-to-power strategy, the funding continues to be cut. This planet has given us natural resources and we have to exploit them. But we need to exploit them in a responsible manner and ensure that we do not make the same mistakes others have done in the past. Let us use our oil and gas and have the chance to grow. Ministers of energy must go and convince the ministers of environment. We need to decide together and find a way that is for the good of Africa.”
Meanwhile, panelists discussed what priorities need to be established for the continent and what a victory in Egypt would look like for Africa.
“I do not want to talk in terms of victory, but in terms of responsibility and rights. I will be an irresponsible leader to sell my country on the altar of energy transition without talking about the significance of energy security or energy access or without talking about energy affordability. The ministers of energy have been meeting, building and developing a consensus. We should not allow ourselves to be divided between environment and development,” stated H.E. Minister Prempeh, adding that, “We are going to COP to tell everyone our responsibility as leaders. First, to the people who elected us and who we have accepted to govern. If we talk about the energy transition, we will talk about using what God has given us to use. We will continue to exploit our reserves for the socioeconomic development of the country.”
Thereafter, the conversation shifted to the role and position of international oil companies (IOC), with H.E. Minister Mahamadou stating “When it comes to IOCs, the same way that African countries and ministers have to stay united and speak with one voice, IOCs have to join that single narrative that we share. When it comes to Niger, we have three IOCs active, so we are working closely with them to ensure the full potential of the oil and gas is exploited,” adding that, “When it comes to the environment, in Niger, 80% of the population lives in rural areas. They rely on biomass and have to do damage to the environment. The way we proceed is we provide them with access to clean cooking and prevent the damage being done to the environment.”
Finally, the need for a consolidated message was further emphasized, with Ayuk stating that, “Drill baby drill: that should be Africa’s message to the world. If you want to solve energy poverty, gas baby gas. Europe wants to call gas green: it has always been green. If it is green gas for Europe, why is it not green gas for Africa? We can do better if we tone down the rhetoric that energy producers are evil people or bad people. We need to go to COP27, backing up our energy producers. We should not be apologizing for our energy sector. That is the message we should take.”