Sahara Group unveils Asharami Square to promote sustainability reporting  

By Stanley Onyeka, Lagos 

Asharami Energy, a subsidiary of the Sahara Group, yesterday, launched the inaugural edition of Asharami Square, an initiative targeted at promoting sustainability through effective media advocacy in Lagos.

Tagged: “Shaping the Sustainability Narratives in the Media,” the launch was done in collaboration with the University of Lagos (UNILAG), and the Pan Atlantic University (PAU), the programmed aimed to help journalists to have a clearer understanding of sustainability issues, thereby enhancing their role of monitoring, transparent reporting, creating awareness and galvanising collective action from the public into embracing such issues.

Themed: “Carbon Footprint and the African Narratives,” the Asharami Square featured speakers from the Sahara Group, donor agencies, the academia, with journalists and students of mass communication in attendance.

The keynote speaker, Chichi Aniagolu-okoye, Regional Director, Ford Foundation, West Africa, reiterated that the African story should be understood and narrated properly. Noting the effects of carbon emissions and impact on climate changes, Dr. Aniagolu-okoye said it is important for Africa and the rest of the world to address the issues in a sustainable manner.

She said: “Our narrative going forward as African’s is not just focusing on challenges but also opportunities that it present,

“For Africa as a continent, we must highlight Africa’s contribution to the climate stability of the world and change the story of Africans being only victims of climate change to African that are also climate action and mitigation champions, and the media should be at the forefront to changing these narratives.”

She also argued that Africa should not dwell much on reducing carbon emissions because it contributes only 4.8% to global emissions but should focus more on energy transition from fossil fuels to cleaner and greener energies, as justice for Africans.

She further urged the strengthening of voices of those affected climate change through collaborative partnership among governments and different stakeholders.

For Africa as a continent, we must highlight Africa’s contribution to the climate stability of the world and change the story of Africans being only victims of climate change to Africans that are also climate action and mitigation champions.

Tackling emissions

Director, Governance and Sustainability at Sahara Group, Ejiro Gray, in her presentation titled: “Africa and Carbon Emission,” while noting that although Africa is the least contributor, to carbon emissions, it is however, among the most affected and the least equipped to deal with the attendant climate change issues and global warming.

This, she said, has an enormous effect on human activities, and other environmental issues, which demands adequate socio-economic and governance solutions.

According to Ms. Gray, Africa’s energy sector has the highest emissions of 55.9%, transport 21.6%, and other sectors 22.5%.

She outlined solutions for mitigating carbon emissions to fast-track development in Africa, which include:

  • Investing more in natural gas
  • Increasing the use of renewable energy sources
  • Protecting and rehabilitation of Africa natural carbon sinks
  • Innovation in low cost/low emission clean energy solutions
  • Carbon capture and storage and reutilisation.

To this end, she informed that the Sahara Group is increasing investments in gas commercialisation and leaning more towards renewables; increased R&D in sustainable energy; Carbon sinks and carbon capture utilisation and storage as well as tree planting.

Also speaking, the Chief Commercial Officer, Ikeja Electric, Mrs. Ogochukwu Onyelucheya, spoke about the increase in cost of power in Nigeria, due to increases in the price of gas, rising inflation and exchange rate volatilities.

She encouraged producers to onboard their capacities to the National Grid to bring down costs, noting that if electricity producers are outside the grid, it will be difficult to bring down prices.

On his part, Group Project Manager, Asharami Energy, the upstream arm of Sahara Group, Wole Ajeigbe, who spoke mainly on the decarbonisation of Africa’s upstream operations, charted pathways towards decarbonisation, financing, skill development, and carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS)

He described CCUS as a technology that mitigates carbon emissions.

Dr. Eugene Itua, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Natural Eco Capital, said the African option concerning carbon emissions is to strategically address climate change issues by promoting the wellbeing of the communities and keeping the forests intact.

The CEO, Egbin Power Plc (Sahara Group power generation company), Mokhtar Bounour, shed light on how the power sector contributes to emissions and how to reduce carbon footprints.

This is just as Head, Corporate Communication at Sahara Group, Bethel Obioma, stressed the importance of supporting media professionals in covering sustainability issues through capacity building programmes via mentoring, training and master classes.

Director, Entrepreneurship and Skill Development Centre, UNILAG, Prof. Sunday Adebisi, stressed the importance of entrepreneurship in carbon capture and emissions mitigation as well as wealth creation.

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