(Pictured above: Leparan Gideon Morintat the CEO of the National Oil Corporation of Kenya replies to a question from the audience during panel discussing Africa’s potential to become a global hub for strategic minerals and energy development)
HOUSTON, USA: Day two of the US-Africa Energy Forum in Houston, Texas has just concluded and balancing the need for energy security with the global trend toward sustainable energy sources was today’s big topic of conversation.
Much of Africa remains excluded from energy access and those who do have access continue to struggle with lack of consistent energy security. While addressing climate change is paramount to building a sustainable future, the realities of renewable energy costs and technical expertise create a barrier to addressing the issue of energy security across Africa.
Reginal Spiller, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Azimuth Energy Investments, asserted this reality of energy access in Africa by stating, “Relying solely on renewables will greatly lengthen the timeline to solving energy poverty, because of this it would be wise to use a blended approach intermixing renewables with traditional oil and gas resources.”
The theme of US-Africa collaboration continues as the pairing of US capital and technological expertise with African minerals and innovative flexibility will play a big role in solving both energy security and working toward global sustainability goals.
C. Derek Campbell, the Executive Chairman of AlphaSierra Advisory Group, discussed the significance of US-Africa relationships to best utilize the continent’s strategic minerals. Campbell highlighted that Africa is in a unique position to be a global leader in energy transition through the collaborative mining and refinement of the many rare earth metals and minerals necessary for components found in technology such as solar panels and lithium-ion batteries.
Dr. Jovita Nsoh, the Director of Cyberrisk, Intelligence and Compliance at Microsoft, affirmed that there is no ‘one-size, fits-all’ model to energy. While traditional forms of energy are going to continue to be utilized in Africa, energy security is being addressed through diversification of sources and further enabling the global transition to renewables with the use of hydro, solar, geothermal, and natural gas.
Mr. Paul Eardley-Taylor (Oil and Gas Coverage, Southern Africa, Standard Bank) focused much of his discussion on the potential of Africa’s natural gas endeavors as a solution to energy security and as a clean energy export increasingly desired in countries like India and China who currently rely heavily on traditional coal-fired plants for energy.
‘Africa is open for business’ was again a call-to-action at the USAEF as domestic and international innovation will play an ever-increasing role in African energy.
Nii Ahele Nunoo, a Senior Associate at KPMG working in the Strategy & Energy Core Operations Division brought the topic of financial technology (fintech) advancements as a local solution to better encourage foreign energy investment. The increased transparency that comes from using fintech applications in energy will have a direct impact in providing more data and more accurate understanding of investment risk in African energy.
Earl Patton, the Managing Director of Cyphr Ventures, reiterated the need for technological advancement in African energy. Mr. Patton stated, “Making crucial technology investments in all stages of the energy value-chain will be more productive in the long-term than simply focusing on money in, money out types of energy investment.”
Moving forward, it has become clear that there is no single energy source or investment that will solve the issue of energy security while also addressing climate change in Africa. What is clear is that diversified investments across energy sources and various steps in the value-chain will all contribute to solving energy security in Africa and building for the future trajectory of the global energy industry.