With over 36 billion barrels of oil and 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, Nigeria has emerged as one of Africa’s biggest energy sectors, attracting significant levels of investment and driving project developments across the entire energy value chain. However, with global capital expenditure tightening due to the COVID-19 pandemic and international finance trends shifting from fossil fuels to renewable resources, African hydrocarbon players such as Nigeria have found themselves competing for investment.
Speaking during the Nigeria country spotlight session at African Energy Week (AEW) 2021, key Nigerian players discussed how the country has positioned itself as an attractive investment destination in 2021 and beyond.
Panel participants included Dr Adedapo Odulaja, Governor of OPEC for Nigeria, and SA-IER, Ministry of Petroleum Resources of Nigeria; Akinwole Omoboriowo II, CEO, Genesis Energy; Kola Karim, Managing Director and CEO, Shoreline Energy International; Olakunle Williams, CEO, QSL-GP; Heine Melkevik, former Managing Director Equinor Nigeria and current Managing Director Business Development, Alta Trading UK Limited; and Lawal Musa, Energy Analyst at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
Through a complete sectoral restructuring, and by capitalizing on progressive legislature and national energy policies to accelerate investment post-COVID-19, Nigeria has made a strong case for investment. Notably, through the passing of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) on 1 July 2021, Nigeria has taken significant steps to boost oil and gas output while enhancing the sector’s attractiveness for international investment. Comprising 16 Nigerian petroleum laws that outline the framework for petroleum activities, the PIB ensures an enabling environment for investors backed by a transparent and strengthened regulatory framework. At a time when the global energy sector is particularly competitive for foreign capital, the passing of the PIB serves to elevate Nigeria as an energy leader on the global stage.
“The reality is that Nigeria and Africa need more investment in the oil and gas space. The transition is good because you will invest in more renewables, but in order to industrialize we need to invest in oil and gas. It is a gradual and repetitive process. What will happen now is you will have a test again and again of the resolve and attitude of Nigeria. You need to take some risk, as this is a long-term game. The opportunities in Nigeria, from upstream to midstream to downstream are too big to ignore,” stated Melkevik.
Meanwhile, with the passing of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), Nigeria has enacted a complete overhaul of the administrative, regulatory and fiscal regime in the energy sector, restructuring key petroleum institutions in order to streamline processes and drive the country’s oil and gas industry expansion. As the country faces challenges of declining oil production from mature fields, coupled with the reduced capital expenditure climate brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the PIA aims to enhance the sector’s attractiveness for foreign investment, ensuring a market-driven regulatory environment that will accelerate the country’s industry developments.
“Oil and gas is 90% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange rate. When you talk of ranking and importance regarding the government of Nigeria, it is the industry. Now with the PIA, the world knows it is open for business. What we have seen is the level of engagement being more robust and the value proposition is becoming clear in the markets,” stated Karim.
“It is not that the PIA will be a gamechanger, it is already a gamechanger and the game is already changing. In the weeks to come, everyone will see this. A lot of investors and people who want to invest in the industry are already looking critical and taking more of an interest in it,” stated Odulaja.
“The PIA proved a clear regulatory framework. For any interested candidates, if you are applying for a license, the PIA provides clear requirements and a timeframe by which you must have an answer. Immediately after the passage of the PIA, implementation was put in place. Within the PIA there was a clause to incorporate NNPC within 6 months and this was done in 1 month. This is a journey. It is a transitional journey and the government is focused,” stated Musa.
With a regulatory environment that places an emphasis on stability and transparency, the country is bound to see an influx in foreign capital and international company participation. In addition to driving domestic industry growth, the PIB and PIA both set an incredibly high standard for other resource-rich nations looking at expanding their energy sectors and attracting investment.
In addition to modernized regulatory frameworks, Nigeria has turned to national energy plans to accelerate development across the country. Notably, through the Decade of Gas initiative – a national strategy that aims to position gas at the forefront of the country’s energy agenda – Nigeria is making significant progress to incentivize investment and spur development. The Decade of Gas initiative was launched in conjunction with the country’s National Gas Expansion Program, whereby large-scale project developments have taken off across the country. Projects including the $2.8 billion, 614Km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) pipeline connecting the eastern, western, and northern regions of the country, as well as the construction of $10 billion Nigeria LNG Train 7 have all been driven by the country’s gas policies.
“We have made huge progress. Statistics show we are doing less than 10% flares, so we are doing very well. Before the PIA we already had policies in place to reduce flaring. Obviously, we cannot completely reduce flares but under the PIA there is a clear direction and policy in place,” stated Williams.
“Investing in any country is a serious endeavor. The law is now in place, but it is a work in progress. My encouragement is that the law has been passed, there is sufficient capital in the country. There are a lot of hotspots and there are more opportunities than issues. The government has created this wonderful environment for Nigerians to thrive in the energy space. We continue to emphasize that gas is good, gas will enable Africa to industrialize. We have to think of our great grandchildren and make plans for them,” stated Omoboriowo II.
Developing African Petroleum Value Chains
Despite the global shift towards cleaner sources of fuel, the African continent – representing the highest number of people without access to energy globally – still requires fossil fuel development, if it is to meet its developmental goals. Accordingly, oil and gas-producing nations across the continent are ramping up efforts to develop a sustainable, viable and high reward petroleum sector in Africa.
Speaking at an African energy producers’ forum at African Energy Week (AEW) 2021, African oil and gas ministers provided insight into Africa’s oil potential, strategies to expand the energy value chain and opportunities for regional and international cooperation.
Opening the African energy producers’ talk, Irene Etiobhio, Senior Petroleum Industry Analyst at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), emphasized the role of oil in Africa’s energy future. Presenting OPEC’s World Oil Outlook 2021, launched earlier this year, Etiobhio offered key insights into both Africa’s and the world’s oil outlook.
“The OPEC outlook provides an in-depth view and analysis of global oil issues. It is important to restate that the outlook is not about projections, but should be viewed as a helpful and insightful guide. Our data is based on key assumptions,” stated Etiobhio.
Alongside the presentation, African energy ministers elaborated on the role of oil in Africa. Panel participants included H.E Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea and Hon. Dr. Mohammed Amin Adam, Deputy Minister of Energy of Ghana.
Africa’s oil and gas industry is facing a dual challenge: to satisfy growing demand for petroleum products and to outpace the deployment of alternative, non-fossil sources of energy. Taking these two challenges into consideration, the panel participants provided insight into how the sector, and oil and gas companies in particular, plan to increase production while decarbonizing industry activities.
“Oil will play a significant role in the African energy mix and will take the highest share over all forms in the future mix. However, with the demand of over 600 million without access to electricity, Africa must do this in a modern way. We must not solve one problem while creating another. Africa needs to also take care of the environment,” continued Etiobhio. “We must have a clear mandate and one voice on how we are going to meet our emissions targets. China has said that by 2060, it will achieve carbon neutrality. Europe has set its target for 2025. Africa needs to do this, as well.”
Many African countries are looking to significantly enhance production, and are therefore looking to attract investment, as well capacity enhancement, across the entire energy sector value chain. During the panel, speakers discussed how Africa can fast-track the creation of an investor friendly environment, while still increasing local capacity.
“At this stage in Africa, we have come to the realization that someone has to be responsible, and for the first time, we have to take responsibility for the sector,” stated H.E. Minister Lima. “When the lockdown started, flights and movements stopped, and many expats could not fly or work. Could we actually continue operations with just national companies? The answer was yes, and for five months, Equatorial Guinea was operating almost 90% domestically. Our installations were operated by our own people, and so it was thanks to COVID-19 that we realized this.”
“Ghanaians took over the Liquefied Natural Gas processing facility. We have built reasonable local capacity to operate this facility. I am so hopeful that there is potential for Africa to develop, but we have to start doing it. If we make the effort to develop our capacity, then we will be able to do that,” added H.E. Deputy Minister Dr Adam.
Nigerians Abandon Gas Due to Surging Prices, Resort to Firewood and Charcoal
The surge in the price of gas prices has caused many Nigerians to resort to firewood and charcoal to cook, according to an open letter written to the government by retailers of the product.
LPG imports make up about 65% of the entire market, and they are being discouraged by several factors. One of the reasons for the decrease in imports is the lack of foreign exchange. This lack of imports had then led to a large reliance on domestic supplies, according to the Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers on Monday November 8, 2021.
As at today, Nigerians are now paying up to triple the amounts they paid for gas in January 2021. A 12.5-kilogram cylinder could now cost up to N10,200 ($25) according to the NALPGAM. These fast-rising prices mean that Nigerians are now abandoning LPG to go back to firewood, charcoal and kerosene regardless of the dangerous implications on the environment and one’s health. NALPGAM said this in an open letter to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest crude oil producer, yet has refused to tap into the huge gas reserves which it possesses. Most of the country’s gas output is wasted due to inadequate infrastructure to properly exploit the resource. According to Nigeria’s official statistics agency in a 2020 report, only about 17% of the entire population make use of gas to cook; the rest make use of firewood or charcoal-fueled stoves.
The Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari pleaded for international financing for what he referred to as transition fuels like gas, which will help Nigeria take more steps toward renewable energy in the future. The President said at the COP26 conference in Glasgow on November 2, that gas will be highly important in addressing the clean cooking challenge and also help to reduce deforestation. He also touted that gas will help solve the country’s long-standing problems with electricity.
NALPGAM called on the government to maintain a steady supply of the dollar to LPG importers, urging the government to suspend the planned reintroduction of VAT and Customs duties.
If the gas prices continue to rise at this rate, more Nigerians will continue to abandon gas in favour of the more harmful alternatives, until the dangerous options are recognized as the norm. The government is encouraged to take necessary action in order to prevent possible casualties to human life where possible.
Green Energy Pioneer from Sierra Leone Jeremiah Thoronka Wins Inaugural $100,000 Chegg Global Student Prize
Jeremiah Thoronka, a student from Sierra Leone who invented a device that uses kinetic energy from traffic and pedestrians to generate clean power, has been named the winner of the Chegg.org Global Student Prize 2021. Jeremiah is the first winner of this new $100,000 award, which is given to one exceptional student who has made a real impact on learning, the lives of their peers and on society beyond.
Jeremiah, a 21-year-old student from Freetown, Sierra Leone, was selected from over 3,500 nominations and applications from 94 countries around the world.
The Varkey Foundation launched the Chegg.org Global Student Prize earlier this year, a sister award to its $1 million Global Teacher Prize, to create a powerful new platform that shines a light on the efforts of extraordinary students everywhere who, together, are reshaping our world for the better. The prize is open to all students who are at least 16 years old and enrolled in an academic institution or training and skills program. Part time students as well as students enrolled in online courses are also eligible for the prize. This year also saw US teacher Keishia Thorpe named as the winner of the Global Teacher Prize 2021.
Jeremiah Thoronka was born amid the fighting of the Sierra Leone civil war and grew up with his single mother in a slum camp for displaced people on the outskirts of the capital Freetown, having to burn charcoal and wood for lighting and heating. Jeremiah saw with his own eyes how, in addition to the photochemical smog making respiratory problems commonplace, his young contemporaries fell behind in their schoolwork because of a lack of decent lighting.
Energy poverty is a major issue in Sierra Leonne – with just 26% of the population having access to electricity. In rural parts of the country, only 6% of people have electricity access, with most turning to solar lanterns and dry-cell batteries. As a result, it’s led to the destruction of forests as people chop down trees for firewood, which leaves Sierra Leone highly vulnerable to extreme events like flooding and landslides. Families’ reliance on firewood and cheap kerosene generators also lead to frequent house fires.
These life-threatening disadvantages and hardships fuelled Jeremiah’s passion for renewable energy and climate change advocacy. At 17, when studying at the African Leadership University in Rwanda, he launched a start-up called Optim Energy that transforms vibrations from vehicles and pedestrian footfall on roads into an electric current. It is different from established renewable energy sources including wind or solar because it generates power without relying on changeable weather. At the same time, no battery and no electricity connection to an external power source is needed.
Optim Energy ran a successful pilot program in Jeremiah’s neighbourhoods, Makawo in the northern part of Sierra Leone and Kuntoluh east of Freetown. With just two devices, the start-up provided free electricity to 150 households comprising around 1,500 citizens, as well as 15 schools where more than 9,000 students attend.
Jeremiah is currently developing plans to expand into the healthcare sector, which needs power to chill medicines and vaccines and create sufficient light for treating patients after dark.
Jeremiah is a United Nations Academic Impact Millennium Fellow and Optim Energy was voted the most Innovative Energy Start-up 2020 by United Nations Major Group on Children and Youth (UNMGCY), and the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 Youth Constituency. Jeremiah is also one of the World Wildlife Fund’s top 100 Young African Conservation Leaders. Should he win the Global Student Prize, Jeremiah will use the prize money to expand Optim Energy to reach 100,000 people by 2030.
The other top 10 finalists for the Global Student Prize 2021 were Amisa Rashid from Kenya, Ana Julia Monteiro de Carvalho from Brazil, Kehkashan Basu from Canada, Lamya Butt from the UAE, Elliott Lancaster from the UK, Matine Khalighi from the US, Mirko Cazzato from Italy, Oluwadamilola Akintewe from Nigeria and Seema Kumari from India.
Actor and humanitarian Hugh Jackman said: “Students everywhere are fighting for their very future. They are part of a generation that are on the frontline of the greatest challenges of our time – from climate change to global inequality. So, we must listen to their voices and shine a light on their stories.
“Congratulations Jeremiah. You have made an enormous difference to your community and far beyond. I am sure that you will now use this incredible platform to make an even bigger impact.”
Chegg.org has partnered with the Varkey Foundation to create the new Global Student Prize. Dan Rosensweig, CEO & President of Chegg, said: “My warmest congratulations to Jeremiah. His inspirational work in pioneering clean, affordable energy makes him a thoroughly deserving winner of the inaugural Chegg.org Global Student Prize. This prize honors students everywhere. While many stakeholders are busy debating, students like Jeremiah are busy doing. They truly are the changemakers our world needs.
Sunny Varkey, Founder of the Varkey Foundation, said: “Congratulations to Jeremiah for becoming the first ever winner of the Chegg.org Global Student Prize and to Keishia for winning the Global Teacher Prize 2021. Their incredible stories show the vital role education plays in tackling the great challenges of today and tomorrow.”
Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education at UNESCO, said: “Congratulations to Keishia for winning the Global Teacher Prize 2021 and Jeremiah for winning the Global Student Prize 2021. UNESCO was proud host to this year’s Global Teacher Prize ceremony at our headquarters in Paris. Inspirational teachers and extraordinary students alike deserve recognition for their commitment to education amid the learning crisis we see today. Now more than ever, we must honor and support our teachers and students as they look to rebuild a better world in the wake of COVID.”
Applications and nominations for this year’s Global Student Prize opened on Tuesday 2 February 2021 and closed on Sunday 16 May 2021.
Students who applied for the Global Student Prize were assessed on their academic achievement, impact on their peers, how they make a difference in their community and beyond, how they overcome the odds to achieve, how they demonstrate creativity and innovation, and how they operate as global citizens.
The winner of the Global Student Prize was chosen from the top 10 finalists by the Global Student Prize Academy, made up of prominent individuals who have a history of mentoring students in their studies or careers, having campaigned on behalf of student issues or having expertise in education and young people.
If students were nominated, the person nominating them was asked to write a brief description online explaining why. The student being nominated was then sent an email letting them know they had been nominated and inviting them to apply for the prize. Applicants were able to apply in English, Mandarin, Arabic, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian. To join the conversation online follow @TeacherPrize and @cheggdotorg
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