Mele Kyari, the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), spoke at a panel session at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, Texas, and emphasized the need for African countries to adopt a strategic approach to addressing energy transition challenges.
Kyari argued that the African Union (AU) should take a comprehensive approach to energy development by adopting a common position on energy access and equitable transition, which would chart the continent’s short, medium, and long-term energy development.
Kyari stated that despite having some of the largest oil and gas reserves in the world, Africa has had difficulty in adequately utilizing these resources to promote sustainable development. He argued that the lack of affordable and dependable electricity on the continent has seriously hampered economic expansion and development, especially in rural regions.
Kyari said the oil and gas sector in Africa has contributed to the continent’s economic growth for several years, and its sustainability must be guaranteed.
Gbenga Komolafe, the CEO of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), spoke at the same event and noted that the Nigerian economy is closely tied to volatile international oil prices, and that the country cannot completely phase out its use of fossil fuels yet.
He argued that a “just” energy transition was needed in Nigeria, and that the government should develop an energy transition pathway that best achieves the environmental, social, political, and economic objectives of the transition in Nigeria.
Komolafe suggested that multiple pathways to energy transition should exist to ensure that no country is left behind in the process of achieving net-zero by 2050.
Accordingly, the Nigerian government declared natural gas as its transition fuel. In conclusion, both speakers acknowledged that the energy transition presented significant challenges for Africa, but also provided several opportunities for energy access, economic growth, environmental sustainability, and regional integration.