Senegal’s Bright Energy Future Belongs to the Young

As instrumental role-players, national government initiatives to prepare the youth of Senegal to actively lead and take collective ownership of the country’s booming energy industry are well underway. Aligned to the national Plan for an Emerging Senegal (PSE), the government of Senegal is clear that human capital is key and top priority is for its local population, and particularly its youth, to meaningfully participate in the country’s lucrative oil and gas industry. This comprises 450 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 1 billion barrels of oil reserves, with first oil expected by 2024. The relevant initiatives for the youth of Senegal to meaningfully participate, are outlined below.

From Senegal’s highest office, H.E. President Macky Sall, has progressively ensured a robust Petroleum Code (Law no. 2019-03) that requires foreign oil companies to procure both local goods and services as well as human resources; in addition, foreign oil companies are required to capacitate the local market with technical skills in the oil and gas industry with the vision to secure employment and lead the future of Senegal’s energy security. Owing to such a people-centric policy code, already today the number of local Senegalese companies companies contracted to the country’s oil and gas sector has greatly expanded since the code was first finalized. The government’s target is that local companies must account for 50% of all oil and gas activities by 2030.

With a young population, of which over 60% are below the age of 25, Senegal has been certain to ensure the roll-out of foreign company skills training programs that upon completion, will enable the youth to leverage forthcoming opportunities and simultaneously meet governments 50% local participation target. A good example of a foreign company training program in Senegal, is BP’s National Technician Training Program- this offers an internationally accredited certificate and goes further to train other local educational institutions on delivering the same program in the future.

Over and above, foreign company training programs, President Sall’s administration established the National Oil and Gas Institute (INPG) in 2017- this operates under the authority of the strategic advisory committee for oil and gas, COS-Petrogaz. The Institute has successfully trained large numbers of Senegalese youth and young professionals in oil and gas-focused skills since 2017.

Aligned to the government of Senegal aims to develop its youth, other training institutions have also emerged. This includes the Senegal Oil and Gas Academy (SOGA), which is renowned for a modern curriculum that emphasizes oil and gas project management, as well as drilling techniques.

Moreover, for young people themselves, both in Senegal and in the collective West African region, the extensive Sangomar and Grand Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) projects have served to offer an awareness factor as to the region’s ambitions of an energy-rich future and that it is the youth who define that future. Moreover, the two major oil and gas discoveries led by Woodside and BP, respectively, have sharpened this awareness and spotlights the Mauritania-Senegal-Guinea-Bissau-Gambia-Guinea-Conakry (MSGBC) area in a positive way, not done before with regards to energy security.

The Renewable Opportunity

While the Petroleum Code ensures that a significant amount of oil and natural gas produced is channeled to the internal market to meet domestic demand, Senegal’s abundant natural resources means the country can also capitalize on other opportunities namely, investment in renewable resources. By definition this means, the youth of Senegal have increased job scope in the energy sector via this renewables field, as well.

Strides have already been made by Senegal in the renewables sector. Projects underway include renewables developer Lekela Power’s involvement with West Africa’s largest wind farm, the Taiba N’Diaye Park, with a 158.7-MW capacity that provides electricity for over two-million people. Lekela Power has also announced that the company will be conducting a feasibility study for expansion plans of the Park’s capacity, by up to 100-MW. Expansion ambitions, underscored by demonstrated competency, is clear evidence of the scope for large-scale renewable projects for the region.

In this regard, solar power is of particular relevance as Senegal has approximately 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, yet the resource remains relatively under-explored. While large-scale developments do currently exist, such as the one spearheaded by Senegal’s Sovereign Strategic Investment Fund (FONSIS) and partners, with two photovoltaic power plants set to generate 60 MW by mid-2021, other micro and off-grid opportunities are also possible. A good example hereof is in the Kédougou region via a Senegalese NGO (SEMFund). This project supports the development of local agricultural businesses by providing power via solar solutions, empowering dozens of Senegalese youth and offering the opportunity for a better future.

MSGBC Oil, Gas & POWER 2022

Under the patronage of H.E. Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal, MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power will once again take place on 1-2 September 2022, in Dakar, Senegal, with the event serving as a catalyst for investment and multi-sector development in 2022. To find out more visit msgbcoilgasandpower.com or contact sales@18.198.47.39.

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João Marques

João Marques

João is an International Conference Director at ECP. He holds an Erasmus Mundus Master’s degree in international journalism with a specialism in War and Conflict. He has worked as a journalist, commentator and analyst for a multitude of international publications on issues of energy, policy and economics. He co-authored the book Big Barrels: African Oil and Gas and the Quest for Prosperity, an Amazon bestseller that received great praise from the industry and the press.

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