•Affirms position on energy transition

From Adewale Sanyaolu, Houston, Texas

To ensure sustainability of the energy sector on the continent, African countries must take advantage of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to diversify their energy sources into a sustainable, low-carbon energy mix, the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mallam Mele Kyari, has said.

Kyari stated this in his  keynote address  at an event  organised on the sidelines of the Offshore Technology Conference(OTC) in Houston, Texas with the theme “Energy Transition in Africa: The journey, Challenges and Way Forward.’’

The GCEO who was represented at the event by the Executive Vice President, Upstream, Adokiye Tombomieye, described the theme as apt because the journey towards energy transition in Africa has been challenging.

He reiterated the need for the African Union (AU) to adopt a common position on energy access and fair transition, which he said is a comprehensive approach that charts Africa’s short, medium and long-term energy development pathway to accelerate universal energy access.

According to him,  AfCFTA is one of the flagship projects of agenda 2063 and it is a high ambition trade agreement, with a comprehensive scope that includes critical areas of Africa’s economy, such as digital trade and investment protection, amongst others.

‘‘It is the world’s largest free trade area bringing together the 55 countries of the African Union (AU) and eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs).

“The overall mandate of the AfCFTA is to create a single continental market with a population of about 1.3 billion people and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of approximately $3.4 trillion.

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“By eliminating barriers to trade in Africa, the objective of the AfCFTA is to significantly boost intra-Africa trade, particularly trade in value-added production and trade across all sectors of Africa’s economy.”

He expressed worry that despite being home to some of the world’s largest oil and gas reserves, the continent of Africa has struggled to leverage these resources to drive sustainable development fully.

The NNPCL boss pointed out that the lack of access to reliable and affordable energy has significantly impeded economic growth and development, particularly in rural areas.

He worried that while the African oil and gas industry has contributed to the continent’s economic growth for several decades, there is the need to ensure its sustainability.

But in order to move towards a more sustainable future, Kyari told the gathering that the African continent must acknowledge that the industry is transforming rapidly.

“As we gather here today, it is essential to acknowledge that Africa is at the forefront of the global energy transition. The journey towards a sustainable, low-carbon energy future presents challenges and opportunities for the continent.

The energy transition is driving changes in the global energy mix, and it presents significant challenges for Africa (financing, infrastructure, policy/regulatory frameworks, skills and capacity).

On efforts by NNPCL to deepen energy access, Kyari said the company understands the importance of partnerships in achieving a sustainable energy industry in Africa, adding that it has worked closely with countries, companies and other stakeholders to develop innovative solutions to meet the continent’s energy needs, as demonstrated in the progress of the 5,600Km Nigeria Morocco Gas Pipeline to supply gas to Europe through Morocco and (13) ECOWAS member Countries.

‘‘NNPC Limited is fully committed to partnering with all players in the energy industry to drive Africa’s energy sector towards sustainability and growth to guarantee our Energy for Today and Energy for Tomorrow,’’.