African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) President Benedict Okey Oramah will receive the African Energy Chamber’s inaugural African Energy Person of the Year during African Energy Week 2022 in Cape Town in October.
The African Energy Person of the Year Award recognizes an individual who has been influential or prominent in Africa’s energy industry during the year or has championed Africa and its energy sector
Dr Oramah, an outstanding advocate for the continent and for a just African energy transition, is a natural choice for this award.
In an era when fossil fuels funding are being restricted by wealthy nations, Benedict Oramah has been doing everything he can to strengthen Africa’s oil and gas industry. He understands that our oil and gas resources are still very much needed to eradicate our continent’s widespread energy poverty and create a pathway to a better economic future.
Oramah, who holds a doctorate degree in agricultural economics, has been president and chairman of the board of directors of Afreximbank since 2015. Prior to beginning his career with Afreximbank in 1994, he was an assistant research manager at the Nigerian Export Bank. Oramah is a published author and a frequent speaker at trade finance conferences around the world. In May, he was named African Banker of the Year (for the second time) in recognition of his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Oramah is untiring in his work on behalf of the continent. Under his guidance, Afreximbank distributed more than $7 billion to African countries during the pandemic so they were able to meet their people’s health needs and address COVID-19’s devastating impact on African economies. Not only that, Afreximbank guaranteed the procurement of 400 million doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines, enough to vaccinate 30% of the continent’s population.”
Dr Oramah works equally hard to empower African governments, businesses, and communities to realize a more stable, prosperous future. In his role as Afrexibank’s president, he strives to de-risk transactions in Africa through medium- and long-term guarantee programs and is an outspoken voice on behalf of increased intra-African trade.
Because Dr Oramah recognizes that Africa’s energy sector still have important roles to play in building stronger, more resilient African countries, he continues to find ways to support a strong African sector — a healthy mix of oil, gas, and renewable sources. That became readily apparent in 2021, when Africa tried to convince the international community to respect the continent’s priorities, a plea that seemed to fall on deaf ears.
During the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, more than 20 countries and financial institutions pledged to stop public financing for overseas fossil fuel projects. Foreign investment in African oil and gas projects was rapidly drying up, and we at the chamber felt the only way forward was an African solution. We started calling for an African energy bank that would finance the continent’s energy projects and allow African nations to transition from fossil fuels to renewables on their own timetable. Dr. Oramah immediately put his support behind that idea.
That support helped pave the way for Afreximbank and the African Petroleum Producers Organization (APPO) to sign a memorandum of understanding in May 2022 and agree to collaborate on the establishment of an African Energy Transition Bank.
“These are challenging times when we must strive to strike the right balance between the imperatives of mitigating climate change and the urgency of averting social upheavals as a result of increasingly difficult economic and financial conditions in Africa,” Dr Oramah said at the time.
His cooperation with APPO was one of many ways Dr Oramah has shown himself to be a true champion of the continent’s energy sector.
Under Dr. Oramah’s direction, Afreximbank has repeatedly helped national oil companies get the funding they need. Just this year, Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited secured a $5 billion corporate finance commitment from Afreximbank, financing that will support major, and critically needed, investments in Nigeria’s upstream sector.
Oramah has been a voice of reason during a critical time for Africa’s energy sector. He has clearly stated that balance is the key to a just energy transition, one that moves the world closer to its net-zero ambitions, and at the same time, gives Africa the same opportunities to capitalize on its petroleum reserves as other countries have realized.
The African Energy Chamber is proud to recognize Dr. Oramah, a champion for Africa and a role model for Africans.