OPEC, AFREC, others strategise to fight Africa’s energy poverty
OREDOLA ADEOLA with agency reports
… promote continent-wide energy cooperation initiatives
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), in collaboration with the African Energy Commission (AFREC), the African Petroleum Producers’ Organization (APPO) and African Refiners and Distributors Association (ARDA), have reached an accord to intensify efforts in fighting energy poverty through continent-wide energy cooperation initiatives.
This is part of the issues discussed at the inaugural high-level video conference of the OPEC-Africa Energy Dialogue virtually held on Wednesday, 2 June 2021.
The meeting was the culmination of more than two years of work to expand dialogue, technical cooperation and enhanced research on the continent’s promising energy future. The virtual meeting was in advancement of the previous technical meetings OPEC had with AFREC and APPO.
Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC’s Secretary General, in his opening remarks at the event, noted that OPEC has a long history of prioritizing cooperation through dialogues with a number of oil-producing and consuming countries, as well as with international organizations and global corporations.
“These events have proven to be highly effective in promoting mutual understanding on key energy issues, while also enhancing our common efforts as energy stakeholders to tackle industry challenges, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic,” the Secretary General said.
Other speakers at the inaugural event were Rashid Ali Abdallah, Executive Director of AFREC; Dr Omar Farouk Ibrahim, Secretary General of APPO; and Anibor Kragha, Executive Secretary of ARDA.
Mr Rashid Ali Abdallah of AFREC, in his contribution to the discussion at the meeting affirmed the need to maximise value of the whole oil chain in Africa.
He said “we should explore the relevance of investment in refining facilities and increase cross-boarder trading, especially through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
These dialogues are therefore key to strengthening our relations, help facilitate the mobilisation of Africa’s own energy resources and potentials, continue to bring energy to the top of national and regional agendas, whilst taking approaches that put Africa directly on to innovative and low carbon energy development pathways.”
Dr Omar Farouk Ibrahim of APPO, In his keynote address highlighted the need for all parties “to join efforts to tackle the daunting challenges facing the global energy sector, and particularly Africa, which informed the decision of the APPO Ministerial Council to conduct a ‘Study on the Future of the Oil and Gas Industry in Africa’ in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and COP21.” The APPO Executive Director also stressed the importance of undertaking cross-borders and regional energy projects in the context of energy transition.
Mr Anibor Kragha of ARDA disclosed that the “First OPEC-Africa Energy Dialogue was very timely, especially in harnessing Africa’s contributions to the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November. Our positive deliberations on promoting sustainable investments across Africa’s oil and gas industry, developing a robust energy transition roadmap and securing the required funding to execute crucial regional projects will usher in a new era of prosperity for the continent.” He added: “ARDA, along with AFREC and APPO, is fully committed to this laudable OPEC initiative and that it will ultimately ensure that Africa’s full energy potential is realized and our citizens’ future energy demands are met with cleaner petroleum products, especially low-sulphur fuels and LPG for clean cooking in the near-term.”
The objective of the dialogue is to bring together top energy policy-makers from various energy institutions and to provide support and policy guidance to the technical meetings aimed at enhancing cooperation and collaboration in energy data acquisition and joint studies, with a view to optimizing their limited resources in pursuit of wider objectives.
In particular, the mutual goal of the organizations is to boost energy access and improve initiative towards alleviation of energy poverty in Africa.
The OPEC-Africa Energy Dialogue will provide critical input for identifying enablers for investment in the African energy sector, accessibility and affordability of energy to eradicate energy poverty, and discuss the future of oil and energy in the post-COVID-19 recovery and energy transition for Africa.
The African continent is set to become increasingly important in terms of global energy demand and supply. African countries are projected to provide the largest share of world population growth in the long term and the continent will experience a significant expansion in urbanization levels. These underlying demographics, coupled with a growing economy and rising income levels, will drive an increase in energy demand.
Key points highlighted during the first High-Level OPEC-Africa Energy Dialogue included:
– Energy poverty remains a major challenge that requires expanded cooperation to achieve solutions;
– All sources of energy are needed to meet anticipated energy demand as well as expand energy access;
– Expanded cross-border energy trade and connections could strengthen energy access and reliability;
– A sustainable finance plan for African energy sector is very important;
– Enhanced continental cooperation on data collection and sharing is needed to support energy planning and stability;
– A harmonized African energy transition plan is needed to prepare for the COP26 meetings in Glasgow, scheduled for 1-12 November 2021;
– There is a need for additional dialogue and stronger advocacy to support the strategic energy interests of Africa.
The meeting was also attended by delegates from some OPEC Member Countries and non-OPEC oil-producing countries participating in the declaration of cooperation.
At the close of the video-conference, the OPEC Secretary General said: “Africa will continue to be an integral and essential player in the oil and gas industry’s long-term efforts to meet the rising energy needs of the world’s rapidly growing population.