Group Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd. (NNPCL) Mr Mele Kyari, has called on African countries to take advantage of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). Kyari said this would help to diversify their energy sources into a sustainable and low-carbon energy mix, and ensure sustainability of the energy sector in the continent. Kyari was represented by the Executive Vice President, Upstream, Mr Adokiye Tombomieye, while delivering a keynote address at a luncheon and panel session organised by Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN) at the ongoing Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), on Tuesday in Houston, Texas, United States.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the session had as its theme: “Energy Transition in Africa: The Journey, Challenges and the Way Forward”. He reiterated the need for African Union to adopt the African common position on energy access and equitable transition, which is a comprehensive approach that charts Africa’s short, medium, and long-term energy development pathways to accelerate universal energy access. He described the theme as apt saying the journey toward energy transition in Africa has been challenging. According to him, AfCFTA is one of the flagship projects of Agenda 2063 and it is a high ambition trade agreement, with a comprehensive scope that includes critical areas of Africa’s economy, such as digital trade and investment protection, amongst other areas.
“It is the world’s largest free trade area bringing together the 55 countries of the African Union (AU) and eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs). The overall mandate of the AfCFTA is to create a single continental market with a population of about 1.3 billion people and a combined Gross Domestic Product of approximately $3.4 trillion. By eliminating barriers to trade in Africa, the objective of the AfCFTA is to significantly boost intra-Africa trade, particularly trade in value-added production and trade across all sectors of Africa’s economy,” he said. Kyari expressed worry that despite being home to some of the world’s largest oil and gas reserves, Africa has struggled to leverage these resources to drive sustainable development fully. He pointed out that the lack of access to reliable and affordable energy had significantly impeded economic growth and development, particularly in rural areas.
The NNPCL boss said while African oil and gas industry had contributed to the continent’s economic growth for several decades, there was the need to ensure its sustainability. To move toward a more sustainable future, Kyari said that the African continent must acknowledge that the industry is transforming rapidly. He said, “As we gather here today, it is essential to acknowledge that Africa is at the forefront of the global energy transition. The journey towards a sustainable, low-carbon energy future presents challenges and opportunities for the continent. The energy transition is driving changes in the global energy mix, and it presents significant challenges for Africa (financing, infrastructure, policy/regulatory frameworks, skills and capacity).” NAN also reports that the event was attended by captains of the oil and gas industry as well as regulators in the sector.