By Ikenna Omeje
Africa will continue to be an integral and important player in the oil and gas industry’s efforts to meet the global rising energy needs, the Secretary-General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Mohammad Barkindo, has said.
OPEC in a statement on Wednesday stated that Barkindo who was speaking at the maiden OPEC-Africa Energy Dialogue, noted the importance of energy stakeholders to continue to dialogue and collaborate at all levels to achieve their common goals.
OPEC-Africa Energy Dialogue is a joint effort by OPEC, in collaboration with the African Energy Commission (AFREC), the African Petroleum Producers’ Organization (APPO) and African Refiners and Distributors Association (ARDA), to promote continent-wide energy cooperation initiatives.
He 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.
“As energy stakeholders,” he said, “we must continue to dialogue and collaborate at all levels to achieve our common goals. In this regard, I invite all of our fellow African energy producers to join with us as we will only get stronger with the enhanced support and cooperation of our continental partners.”
According to Barkindo, 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,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, the Executive Director of AFREC, Rashid Ali Abdallah, said that to maximize the local added value of the whole oil chain in Africa, “we should explore the relevance of investment in refining facilities and increase cross-border 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.”
In his keynote address, the Secretary-General of APPO, Dr Omar Farouk Ibrahim, expressed the need “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 necessity to undertake cross-border and regional energy projects in the context of energy transition.
On his part, Anibor Kragha of ARDA noted 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-sulfur fuels and LPG for clean cooking in the near-term.”
The high-level dialogue highlighted that 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; and the need for additional dialogue and stronger advocacy to support the strategic energy interests of Africa.
The objective of the dialogue is to bring together top energy policymakers from various energy institutions to provide support and policy guidance to the technical meetings of the energy dialogue, aimed at enhancing cooperation and collaboration in energy data acquisition and joint studies, with a view to optimize their limited resources in pursuit of wider objectives. In particular, the mutual goals of the organizations are based extensively on energy access and energy poverty alleviation in Africa.