Affordable, reliable energy key to creating jobs in Africa: Seplat CEO

Affordable and reliable energy provides the right platform for businesses in Africa to create and retain jobs for its fast-growing population and further make the continent sustainable.

Access to energy and energy security remains critical for the Continent, and Africa needs “affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern electricity for all” to drive the realization of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 7.

The Chief Executive Officer of Seplat Energy Plc, Mr. Roger Brown said this whilst delivering a Keynote at the ongoing Africa Oil Week (AOW) in Cape Town, South Africa, themed: “How Seplat is Driving Sustainability Through Energy Transition and Security in Nigeria.”

Brown was quoted in a statement as saying that up to 600 million Africans have little or no access to energy, because energy infrastructure had remained poor and lacking the right investments.

“Affordable and reliable energy allows businesses to create jobs in Africa giving the fast-growing population a future in their country of birth, thereby avoiding mass migration,” he told attendees at the conference.

He added: ”900 million Africans cook using biomass, and this is causing all sorts of problems – it steals time from the women and children who have to collect firewood for cooking, it causes smoke pollution that in turn causes poor health, and it’s estimated to cost the lives of nearly 500,000 Africans every year. This is unacceptable and we need to change it.   

“This is the problem we have to solve for Africa and its people, not just the billion Africans today but the 2.5 billion that will call this amazing continent home in 30 years’ time.”

Gas is the transition solution; upstream oil and gas development is critical to fund the transition but needs to eliminate theft, flaring and leaks, and operate with lower carbon intensity.

In a few years from now, 50 per cent of people with no access to electricity will be living in just seven countries, Nigeria being one of them.

The Seplat Energy CEO further explained that: “Where people do have access to electricity, as is the case in Nigeria, it’s often from small-scale generators that run on diesel or petrol, which we have to import, and that’s part of the problem we have to address, especially in Nigeria.

“So, it’s clear we need to increase access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy, but at the moment only 3 per cent of the world’s investment in energy systems goes into Africa.”

Africa, he stressed, has the right to develop and must use its natural resources to do that, noting that the transition cannot be funded solely by debt or outsourced.

He said countries like Nigeria needs to move away from reliance on diesel/PMS generators, as that will improve health, and lower 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 fund the transition but needs to eliminate theft, flaring and leaks, and operate with lower carbon intensity.”

Brown added: “Africa needs to balance the ‘E’ and ‘S’ in ESG. North and South must work together to ensure ‘Development’ and ‘Climate’ do not become competing objectives, with the loser being ‘Social Development’.

“Raising investment for energy transition will boost Nigeria’s economy; drive development; create jobs and prosperity; reduce emissions vs status quo; underpin future renewable deployment; and support a Just and Affordable Energy Transition.”  

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