April 16, 2024

“Reject attempt denying Africa from charting own course to industrialization” Obasanjo warns African leaders

President Olusegun Obasanjo at African Energy Week

Benjamin Joseph

 

Former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has called on African leaders to reject the attempt by industrialized countries to deny African countries from charting their own course to industrialization with the use of natural resources under the guise of climate change and carbon emission reduction.

 

Obasanjo made this call in his address leading discussions on diplomacy, regional stability, and sustainable development, during a strategic session on the first day of the ongoing Africa Energy Week, AEW 2023, in Cape Town, South Africa.

 

Obasanjo implored African countries to reject the misleading notion that they can join the West by becoming post-industrial societies without having first been industrial ones.

 

He further urged African leaders to implement the right policies, even in the face of strong external opposition, and to show political commitment to industrialize their countries.

 

Obasanjo said, “We have approximately 600 million Africans without access to power, yet we are being told that due to climate change, we cannot use our natural resources to industrialize ourselves because it would increase carbon emissions.

 

“It is the same resource that the industrialised world used to develop themselves. So, I ask, where is the justice?

 

“When you use what was available to you, which is now available to us, and you say there will be no investment for us to explore and produce these resources for our development, we reject that.

 

Energy security, stability, and accessibility need to be assured for us through energy justice,” Obasanjo said.

 

The former Nigeria’s President during the discussion highlighted his role in attracting finance and debt relief for the West African country.

 

According to him, “When I was in charge of the office of Nigeria, I fought for justice in two areas. One was in the energy sector, the other was in the international finance sector.”

 

 

Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, former Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Ltd., during the session also emphasised the need for African leaders to determine their own narratives when it comes to the global energy transition.

 

 

He said, “My approach to the energy transition is that African leaders have got to start changing their narratives.

 

“Africa on its own has got to preach its own position. Africa needs to take certain actions to enable us to find our own solutions,” Dr Kachikwu noted.

 

Hon. Tom Alweendo, Minister of Mines and Energy of Namibia, spoke on the importance of partnerships and collaboration in developing Africa’s energy resources.

 

The Minister highlighted a cohesive and mutually beneficial partnership with international investors as the key to industrializing the continent.

 

“We have to have partnerships that are interested in win-win outcomes. We want to welcome investors who share in our vision for a prosperous Africa, especially when it comes to energy,” Hon. Minister Alweendo.

 

Lionel Zinzou, the Former Prime Minister of the Republic of Benin, stressed the need for solidarity amongst African countries.

 

Zinzou highlighted the need for African countries endowed with natural resources to assist in the industrialization and socio-economic development of their neighbors for the benefit of the continent as a whole.