The 2022 edition of African Energy Week (AEW) – the biggest gathering of energy stakeholders and policymakers on the continent – kicked off to an electric start with a suite of opening remarks delivered by industry leaders and movers and shakers from across the African energy landscape.
Sponsored by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited, the opening ceremony of AEW 2022 laid the foundation for a robust program that will unfold over the course of the next four days.
Delivering their opening remarks were NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber; Hon. Frans Timmermans, European Commission Vice-President for the European Green Deal; Mary Burce Warlick, Deputy Executive Director, International Energy Agency; Yemi Adetunji, Group Executive Director Downstream, NNPC Ltd.; Andrew Inglis, CEO, Kosmos Energy; Joseph McMonigle, Secretary General, International Energy Forum; and Priscillah Mabelane, EVP, Sasol.
Kicking off the opening remarks, Ayuk welcomed delegates, stating that, “It is my pleasure to welcome you to AEW in Cape Town, in South Africa, in Africa. We gather today as African energy stakeholders from Cape to Cairo. 600 million are without access to electricity, 900 million without access to clean cooking, we cannot say this industry is done. We are going to be the drivers of the future and shouldn’t have to apologize for wanting to drive growth, create jobs and create opportunities. So, welcome to this city. Let us go change Africa, make our voices known and sign deals.”
Following Ayuk’s opening remarks, Warlick emphasized that, “As many of you know, the past few years have put a significant strain on the finances of many African governments with COVID-19 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine contributing to higher energy and food prices, as well as increased inflation and monetary tightening as a result of a constrained supply chain inherited from the pandemic. Today, 600 million or 43% of the entire population lack access to electricity. On top of this, many Africans are experiencing the worst effects of climate change and this is all occurring despite the fact that Africa is responsible for less than 2% of emission since the start of industrialization.”
Adding to what Warlick stated about African emissions, Adetunji stated that, “African countries are responsible for just 4% of emissions, and therefore, their priorities are to develop fossil fuels to drive economic prosperity and bring energy to the 600 million people without electricity. International oil companies and other providers of finance can help develop the projects that allow the continent to meet its targets.”
Additionally, Hon. Timmermans expressed that, “The climate crisis is our common challenge and a challenge of a lifetime. The window for action is closing fast but it is still open. Many countries in Africa already suffer from the consequences of the climate crisis but bear little responsibility for getting into this crisis.”
On the topic of global markets, McMonigle shared that, “We are living through momentous times through energy markets. We are seeing a tail of two markets today: physical oil markets are tight but paper markets are pricing bad economic data. Prices have been trending lower in recent weeks but I view this as a false calm and I am quite concerned about more volatility and higher prices ahead.”
However, as Inglis emphasized, “Africa is blessed with enormous gas resources that can be used to alleviate energy poverty and supply the rest of the world with sustainable, affordable and clean energy. If Africa used its own resources, the cumulative emissions would raise its share from a mere 3% to just 3.5%. So, for me, the key question is not whether Africa has the right, it absolutely does, but why it is not being done faster. Developing resources responsibly requires companies and countries to create a shared agenda.”
Expanding on this, Mabelane stated that, “Energy is a critical enabler of economic growth. Yet, most African countries are still lagging behind. At Sasol, we believe that Africa must harness its abundant energy resources to address the socioeconomic development of its people. In addition to the challenge of access to energy, Africa faces an uncertain future due to the impacts of climate change. Energy security, climate security and socioeconomic security are connoisseurs of Africa’s developments. As such, it is crucial we address these issues in a sustainable manner, bringing the communities along.”
With these remarks, the 2022 edition of AEW has officially begun.