Richard Ginika Izuora
The Chief Executive Officer, Seplat Energy Plc, Mr. Roger Brown, has called for adequate investment in power sector infrastructure to fast track economic emancipation of the continent.
He said that for Africa to achieve major development goals and power its own economies as well as export energy, there is need for energy capital to be deployed to the continent.
Brown said this at the World Energy Capital Assembly (WECA) held in London, where he delivered a keynote dubbed, “Accessing Capital for Energy Projects in Africa”.
He said lack of access to modern and reliable energy was one of the most important bottlenecks for development of higher value-added services and industries across Sub-Saharan Africa, adding that improving energy security is a vital tool for reducing vulnerabilities to external price shocks and for building the foundations for sustainable growth
He said the world could increase global energy security and ensure that everyone had access to affordable and reliable energy, whilst also stressing that Africa had the capacity not only to be self-sufficient energy-wise, but to also export energy to areas of need.
According to Brown: “We can, through investment in Africa’s energy infrastructure, help to accelerate development in Africa, to increase prosperity and improve its chances of achieving all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
“And we can help to guide Africa’s energy transition by encouraging investment in lower-carbon sources of energy, while at the same time encouraging Africa at both government and corporate level, to improve ESG performance, meaning better environmental care through lower emissions, creating jobs and helping social development, and by improving governance at all levels. Thus, energy capital wins, Africa wins and the environment wins. We can achieve all these wins at little incremental cost to the environment.”
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the largest infrastructure deficit is in the power sector. Whether measured in terms of generation capacity, electricity consumption, or security of supply, Africa’s power infrastructure delivers only a fraction of the service found elsewhere.
West Africa has one of the lowest rates of electricity access in the world; only about 42 per cent of the total population (half of the global access rate of 87 per cent), and 8 per cent of rural residents, have access to electricity. Fewer than half of the utilities in sub-Saharan Africa recover their operating costs due to shortage of local capacity and end-user payment issues, resulting in GDP losses as high as 4 per cent in some countries
Brown said energy security implies a country’s ability to ensure integrity of assets and developed markets. It measures capacity to meet current and future energy demand reliably in areas such as power generation, operating costs, evacuation and distribution network integrity. This indicator, he explained, has achieved 40 per cent growth from 2000 to 2021 (however more needs to be done to develop reliable and secure energy).
The region needs greater investments to cover the energy infrastructure gap and bridge the shortage of energy supply and energy services, he advised.
Energy equity, Brown explained, assesses a country’s ability to provide universal access to reliable, affordable, and abundant energy for domestic and commercial use practically measured by access to electricity, energy costs and quantum of on-grid and off-grid supply, amongst others..
“There has been progress over the last decade but most of Sub-Saharan Africa still lacks basic access to electricity and clean cooking facilities. Clean, affordable and reliable energy is urgently required to improve livelihoods and lifestyles,” he added.
Also speaking on environmental sustainability, the Seplat Energy CEO said: “This highlights the transition of a country’s energy system towards mitigating potential environmental harm and climate change impact. This can be measured renewable energy consumption, structure of carbon markets and policies, energy transition measures and climate policies, amongst others.
“This is the region’s strongest dimension, but it is still trailing behind its European and North American counterparts. More needs to be done by way of better governance of energy resources, infrastructure investments, access to appropriate technologies, and policies to improve the overall energy systems management and development in a more sustainable way.”
Capital providers, he pointed out, will choose their partners in Africa carefully putting into strong consideration international and local accountability, robust finances, environmental commitment, good relationships, and strong leadership.