Lagos — The Chief Executive Officer of Seplat Energy Plc, Roger Brown, has said access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy is crucial if Africa is to achieve all 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs
He also said energy access will be the biggest driver of social and economic development in Africa going forward.
Brown stated this at the opening ceremony of the ongoing Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Nigeria Annual International Conference & Exhibition (NAICE) 2023 held in Lagos. He spoke on the theme of the conference “Balancing Energy Accessibility, Affordability, and Sustainability: Strategic Options for Africa”.
According to him, Nigeria needs to focus on enabling the entire energy value chain, from wells to payments. He emphasised the need to create a resilient and efficient power grid and put in place an attractive regulatory and pricing regime to encourage investment and innovation across the chain.
The Seplat Energy CEO said: “It is important to recognise that gas has a place as a transition fuel and Africa has a right to use its resources. The country needs to encourage off-grid solutions for remote areas, leapfrog technologies by moving straight to renewables where it makes sense, and develop sales and distribution infrastructure for clean cooking fuel like bottled gas.”
“Pricing must balance affordable energy with attractive returns for the companies providing it. We have to improve the governance and attractiveness of African energy providers to ensure the lowest cost of capital. There is a need to also increase investment in African energy from just 3 percent of global energy investment today. Cleaner cooking fuel must be a more attractive proposition than collecting wood, which is free.”
Brown stated that global investment needed to achieve net zero target by 2050 is projected at $3.5 trillion per annum (around 1.3% of annual global GDP), He pointed out that the headline figure hides some divergent dynamics and frictions.
He called for the allocation of capital to developing economies which will be responsible for most of the growth in emissions, reallocation of capital away from the hydrocarbon sector (divestment, restricting capital, engagement), and allocation of capital to low-carbon technologies.
Speaking on the need to ensure sustainability, the Seplat Energy CEO said increasing Africa’s access to energy should not come at the expense of the environment.
He explained that Africa has huge natural gas resources that can be utilised to deliver significant social and economic gains at a low cost to the environment. Renewables were essential to achieve universal energy access across Africa and Africa also has significant mineral resources essential for batteries and fuel cells.
Brown noted that delivering universal access to energy across Africa will deliver huge social and economic benefits. But it will only be attractive if governments can create the right pricing and regulatory regimes to make it both attractive to invest, and affordable for consumers adding that Africa has the right to develop and must use its natural resources to do that.
“The transition cannot be funded solely by debt. Access to energy and energy security is critical and Africa needs affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern electricity for all as SDG7,” He said
He stated that Nigeria needs to move away from reliance on diesel/petrol generators as such a move would improve health, and lower the cost of electricity, which is severely holding back development in all sectors.
“Gas is the transition solution. Upstream oil and gas development is critical to funding the transition but needs to be much more efficient, as e need to eliminate theft /flaring/leaks and operate with lower carbon intensity. Africa needs to balance the “E (environment)” and “S (social development)” and North and South must work together in a balanced way, which means we must balance energy security with affordability and sustainability,” the Seplat CEO advised.
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