By Verner Ayukegba
Africa is at an energy cross-road. On one hand, the most talented, better educated, most entrepreneurial and competitive generation the continent has ever had is rising and taking on leadership positions that will propel African companies to become more competitive.
After many turbulent decades, most corners of the continent have found the necessary political and economic stability to strategize for a better future making use of their natural resources and wealth. Nowhere else on planet Earth are economies and populations expected to grow faster than in the mother-continent.
After such a long time dealing with the problems of the past, Africans can look to the future with the promise of a better life. After all, when it comes to natural resources such oil, gas, coal, diamonds, rare earths, woods, or agricultural potential and legacy-free technological development, there is no place like Africa. Over the last decade, most of the world’s biggest oil and gas discoveries took place on the African continent, and rapidly developing indigenous companies are ensuring these resources serve Africans and African economies more than they ever did before, resources that will power industries, light homes and create wealth.
Our time to rise is finally here
I have had the chance to witness this with my own eyes. From Equatorial Guinea to South Africa, from Angola to Mozambique and from Kenya to Senegal, the energy industry, the one I know best and the one closest to my heart, is revolutionizing life. Political leaders are willing to learn from the mistakes of the past to improve resource management, contract negotiations and environmental protection policies.
Most of all, they have developed local content policies that potentiate the participation of Africans in these industries. Oil and gas training programmes and university degrees that cater to the industry like engineering are now more common than ever. These programs are educating and giving opportunities for numerous Africans to find work in the industry and further, to start their own companies within the industry’s supply chain. While the drive to strengthen the integration of the energy sector and other extractive industries with the rest of the economic system is far from complete, it has certainly been fundamental in developing Nigeria’s indigenous upstream sector or in building a truly native gas industry in Equatorial Guinea. In Nigeria for example, this critical mass of local talent has been instrumental in the establishment of regional energy giants like Seplat Petroleum, Sahara Energy, Atlas Petroleum International Limited and Shoreline Natural Resources, whose influence is felt more and more beyond Nigeria’s boarders.
Local content clauses in contracts are the way African leaders assure that the exploitation of the local natural resources has a trickle-down effect on the local economy, through job-creation and increasing local participation in the value chain the industry brings with it. Furthermore, most recent localization strategies for the oil and gas sector have been successful in developing truly native associated industries, particularly within the natural gas supply chain. As the Africa Energy Chamber has advocated since its establishment, we are finally seeing petrochemical plants, fertilizer plants and gas-fired power plants popping up across the continent. An African natural gas economy is growing where before the plague of flaring stood unmatched.
Intra-African trade in both natural gas and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is also likely to rise significantly, on the back of rapid urbanization and development across the continent which is set to increase energy consumption on the continent by more than 50% before 2040, This will speed up wealth creation and capacity building across borders.
Following the oil price crash of 2014, many countries across Africa have sought to reposition themselves to attract investment into their energy sectors through the introduction of varying incentives. These incentives ranged from granting tax breaks to potential investors to reducing bureaucracy affecting the sector. On the other hand, the recent global climate change discourse which has also intentionally sought to demonize and simply hinder investments into Africa’s oil and gas sector, poses a new challenge to the growth of the sector in Africa.
Worryingly, these two issues are taking attention away from the need to ensure that the African energy industry benefits Africans at large and fulfils its transformative potential to raise the continent out of poverty.
The African energy transition will not be made in the West
The issue of climate change has come to dominate the global debate over the energy sector. An energy transition is necessary to tackle the effects of CO2 emissions on a planetary scale. While Africa has contributed only a miniscule part of those emissions, it stands to suffer the most from the effects of this change, and must as well prepare for a progressive shift in its energy structure. In many ways, the channelling of natural gas for power generation and the upgrading of oil and gas infrastructure and equipment to improve efficiencies and reduce the industry’s carbon footprint is already going a long way to achieve that. New renewable energy projects from Kenya to South Africa will also help balance out the continent’s energy matrix as it expands its electrification rates to reach every African in every corner of the continent.
Many international and foreign institutions have already started to share their expertise and support with African governments and many foreign investors have started to develop their own projects in the mother-continent. Wind farms, solar parks, geothermal drilling, hydropower plants, etc, are taking advantage of each region’s available resources. Here too, these renewable resources must be used for the benefit of Africans, and they must be developed with the participation of Africans and in a manner that is sustainable economically and to a scale that is capable to supporting the growth of industry that provides for good paying jobs.
It is fundamental that these new technologies and sources of energy suit the communities which they are meant to serve. Climate concerns cannot side line discussions over local content and localization strategies. They must go hand in hand, be one and the same, or else we may again find ourselves dependent on foreign knowledge to provide for our energy needs. Such dependence is unlikely to lead to the mass scale of development with the potential to lift large swaths of the population out of poverty.
Education programs and employment clauses are a fundamental step of the energy transition and not a secondary aspect of it. Market-driven local content frameworks need to be designed for capacity building, employment generation and overall enforcing a value-adding multiplying effect in our economies.
This debate is now more important than ever, as Africa opens up to new industries and to greater trade integration. As more and more African nations gain the expertise to explore their natural resources for the betterment of their economies and their people, we need to see further integration and cooperation between them, so that the continent can take advantage of synergies that different regions and industries can offer.
Already, we see examples of gas-poor countries like South Africa investing in natural gas and LNG projects in gas rich Mozambique with the aim of reducing their growing energy deficit. As demand rises, exploration will accelerate and so will the use of the vast gas resources, including those that continue to be wasted through flaring. The African Continental Free Trade Zone is an ideal platform to promote the development of an intra-African natural gas trade that will promote widespread economic growth and access to power. Again, it is fundamental that these developments are pegged to well implemented and designed local content policies, so that Africans can truly benefit from the exploitation of their continent’s resources, and by so doing, ensure that Africa’s energy transition will be driven and made sustainable by those that will transition with it.
Verner Ayukegba is the Senior Vice President with the African Energy Chamber and Director of Operations at DMWA Resources, a pan-African energy marketing & investment firm.
Gov. Zulum mourns Col. Dahiru Bako killed by insurgents in Borno
Gov. Babagana Zulum of Borno has condoled with the Nigerian Army over the demise of Col. Dahiru Bako, killed in an ambush by Boko Haram insurgents.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Bako was ambushed on Sept. 20 while leading his troops on a clearance at Sabon Gari-Wajiroko axis in Damboa Local Government Area of the state.
Zulum, whose condolence message was in a statement released by his Special Adviser Media and Strategies, Malam Isa Gusau in Maiduguri on Monday, said the sacrifices of the senior and other slain soldiers would not be in vain.
He said: “It was public knowledge that I liked late Col. Bako and so did many people.
“Bako was a true soldier who inspired his troops and led them to frontlines with exceptional courage that was clearly out of pure patriotism.
“He fought very hard and very well. He defeated many enemies of peace and protected many sons and daughters of Borno State to the extent that he gave his life defending the people.
“By the grace of God, the supreme sacrifices made by Col. Bako and many other heroes like him in the armed forces and volunteers shall not be in vain.
“The deaths of our heroes, sad as they are, only reinforce our confidence in the strong will exhibited by our gallant troops and volunteers, that defending our country comes ahead of everything.
“The people of Borno will forever be grateful to late Col. Bako and everyone like him. We pray that Allah forgives his shortcomings and those of all our fallen heroes.”
The governor pledged his administration’s continued support to the Nigerian army to enable its personnel to execute the counter terrorism campaign and restore total normalcy in the state.
Edited By: Dianabasi Effiong/Ejike Obeta
NCDC announces 195 new COVID-19 cases, death toll hits 1,100
The NCDC made this known on its official twitter handle on Monday.
According to the agency, the new infection takes the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 57,437.
The health agency sadly reported two new deaths raising the death toll in the country to 1,100.
It also reported that 105 patients who had been treated and had also recovered from the infection were discharged across the country.
Among other states that recorded new cases were Rivers (12), Kaduna (8), Ondo (3), Bauchi (2), Edo (1), and Ogun (1).
According to the agency, till date, 57,437 cases have been confirmed, 48,674 cases have been discharged and 1100 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the FCT.
The health agency said a multi-sectoral national emergency operation centre (EOC) activated at Level three, had continued to coordinate the national response activities across the country.
Meanwhile, the agency has warned that majority of Nigerian states were not testing enough.
It said, “We do not have enough data coming out of these states to ascertain if we are improving or not or where exactly we are.
“So we have to work together; in summary, it is way too early to make any interpretation whether we are flattening the curve or not.”
The NCDC appealed to more states to test consistently so that progress could be monitored on a national level.
Edited By: Ejike Obeta
NSE, others commit to expanding retail investment opportunities in capital market
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the webinar was on “Capital Market Investing in a Digital Age”.
Mr Oscar Onyema, Chief Executive Officer, NSE, in his address, said that investor participation was crucial to sustainable economic growth.
Onyema said that the Exchange was committed to playing its role in advancing the Federal Government’s financial inclusion goals.
“Investor participation is central to the growth of sustainable development of any economy.
“NSE is committed to playing a critical role in the advancement of the FG’s financial inclusion goals.
“As part of our efforts to realise the objectives of the financial inclusion, we intend to facilitate conversations which will serve to equip existing and potential investors with the necessary skill to effectively manage and grow financial resources at their disposal.
“In these engagements, we will also expand the retail investment opportunities available in the capital market and the channels through which they can be accessed,” Onyema said.
“The outbreak of COVID-19 adversely affected the global economy in many ways and at different magnitude.
“The Nigerian capital market was also negatively affected, with the market witnessing a downturn in Q1 of this year.
“However, the market rebounded in Q2 and as a result the NSE all share index has recorded a 18.9 per cent increase from its position at the end of March.
“The market also witnessed the growth in the percentage value of equity transactions contributed by retail investors, currently at 29 per cent from 21.8 per cent in 2018 and 24.72 per cent in 2019,” he said.
According to him, these highlight the market’s resilience in time of adversity and is a testament of market stakeholders’ ability to adapt.
Onyema said that digital technology played a significant role in achieving the positive results recorded in the NSE so far.
He said that technology had helped to make significant services more easily accessible.
Mr Laolu Martins, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, NISL, said that it had become imperative to ensure that retail investors were made aware of the opportunities inherent in the capital market.
Martins said that for retail investors, navigating through the web of processes in the capital market was usually difficult, thereby discouraging them from investing.
He said: “The general belief is that retail investors are often left behind and do not have enough knowledge on the workings of the capital market.
“NISL is a securities trading company, financial advisory service, offering consulting solutions to corporate bodies across the value of activities on the stock exchange.
“In order to invest properly, all investors need to carry out some sort of financial planning, no matter how small or big.
“We realised that for retail investors, it is usually difficult for them to navigate through these web of processes and other issues that create a bottleneck or discourage investors.”
Martins said that some processes that create difficulties for investors include budgeting, investment, savings, risk management and liquidity management.
“At NISL, we have enough expertise to ensure that we help our investors navigate through this web of terms and processes to ensure that their investment is rewarding,” he said.
Martins said the reason for the webinar was to expose some of the investment opportunities for retail investors.
“This webinar is to enlighten the investing public, retail investors, that they can buy bonds in the NSE and it is like lending your money to a company or a government entity.
“It is advisable that retail investors should approach their stockbrokers to guide them in which bond they should invest in,” he said.
Mr Femi Balogun, Head, Market services Department, NSE, spoke on the importance of market data in guiding investors’ decision.
“Market data is important to the investment of an intending investor.
“Some people are good at picking stocks, but If you use data to drive your decision in conjunction with your expertise, you make a better informed decision on your investment,” he said.
Amolegbe said that the Exchange had always provided avenues that would support and ensure a seamless investing process for retail and other investors.
Edited By: Tayo Ikujuni/Oluwole Sogunle
Imo Govt. moves to restore Owerri masterplan to check flooding
Gov. Hope Uzodimma of Imo, has said his administration is desirous to restore the original masterplan of Owerri, the capital city, as part of the efforts to tackle flood-related issues in the state.
Uzodinma said this on Monday, when a delegation of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) came on an advocacy to the state.
The governor, who was represented by the Secretary to State Government (SSG), Mr Cosmos Iwu, said that plans were underway to demolish all the houses built on the waterways in the city “in order to give the water access to flow into Otamiri River.”
He also said that government had carried out series of sensitisation programmes in the state aimed at preparing the people for emergencies and called for the agency’s support.
“We are appealing to NEMA to assist us because the environmental impact of the flood in Imo is bigger than us.
“We have been doing our best and we will continue to do our best. We have received some relief items from NEMA but we are asking for more.
“We also commend your visit to Imo, it shows serious commitment on the side of NEMA,” the governor said.
In a speech, the Director-General of the agency, AVM Mohammed Mohammed (rtd.), appealed to the state government and major disaster stakeholders to demonstrate greater commitment to disaster management.
Mohammed, who was represented by Deputy Director (Accounts) in the agency, Mr Abdul-Aziz Jibrin, said that the visit was to ascertain the level of preparedness by Imo government in case of any disaster.
He said that the state was among the states in Nigeria likely to witness flooding this year as predicted by the Nigeria Meteorological Agency.
The NEMA boss said that Imo had shown capacity in disaster management in the past and urged Gov. Hope Uzodimma to show more commitment in mitigating flood and other disasters in the state.
“We are here on advocacy visit and awareness campaign to sensitise the people on the need to be prepared at all times.
“I am assuring Imo of NEMA’s full commitment to partner with the government and dissaster stakeholders in the area of disaster management,” he said.
Mohammed listed Ohaji-Egbema, Ogutta, Oru-East and Owerri North as highly probable flood risk local government areas in the state.
He warned that other council areas, “which does not fall under high probability may also be affected.”
He said that although the state seemed prepared for any disaster, there was need for the government to ensure regular sensitisation of the people to be vigilant.
“We have interacted with all the disaster stakeholders and government and I can assure you that we are satisfied with their level of preparedness.
“But they must not relent in showing commitment at all times,” Mohammed said.
He said the agency was also in Imo to interact with other disaster stakeholders to know their challenges and the way forward.
The Commander, 211 Quick Response Group Nigerian Air Force, Group Capt. Elisha Bindul, assured the NEMA delegation in his office of the command’s commitment to disaster management.
Bindul said the command had also embarked on advocacy visits to various community leaders in Imo to sensitise them on disaster management.
He said the command also carried out rescue operations in various communities and also provided security to NEMA officials during emergencies.
“It is our legal responsibility to carry out rescue operations during emergency and to also collaborate with other stakeholders in mitigating disaster,” Bindul said.
He listed limited speed boats and life jackets, ambualances and mattresses as some of the challenges facing the command during interventions in disaster management.
He solicited the assistance of the agency in providing the necessary logistics to the command for a better proactive approach to disaster management.
He promised the command’s readiness to continue to partner with the agency in disaster management in the state.
Edited By: Sam Oditah