NIEC 2023 has officially kicked off with a ministerial panel presenting insight into value creation through energy development.
Following an insightful welcoming message and keynote addresses by key players and industry leaders from the private sectors as well as from Namibia’s Ministry of Mines & Energy, Day 1 of the Namibia International Energy Conference (NIEC) 2023 kicked off discussions with an opening ministerial panel.
Emphasizing the need to fast-track energy developments for energy security and economic expansion, the discussion explored the theme, ‘Shaping the Future of Energy Towards Value Creation’.
Moderated by NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber (AEC) – Strategic Partner of the event -, the high-level speakers included H.E. Chiekh Niane, Vice Minister of Petroleum and Energies, Senegal; H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Planning and Economic Diversification, the Republic of Equatorial Guinea; H.E. Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, Secretary-General, African Petroleum Producers Organization (APPO); Hon. Andrew Mercer, Deputy Minister of Energy and Petroleum, the Republic of Ghana; Paulino Jerónimo, CEO, National Oil and Gas Agency (ANPG), Republic of Angola; and Maggy Shino, Petroleum Commissioner, Ministry of Mines and Energy, Namibia.
Kicking off the session, Shino expressed the Government’s dedication towards the development and growth of Namibia’s energy sector while affirming support for key decision-makers, industry leaders, and experts to engage in meaningful dialogue around industry developments.
“We have managed to unlock the potential of the Orange Basin,” Shino stated, adding, “We are aware of the resources and where they are, but what you need to know is that the potential in terms of the entire Namibian coastline is vast. The number of prospects that we are seeing, ranging from shallow water to deep water, is increasing.”
Thereafter, the session featured valuable insight from H.E. Niane, who made a strong case for Namibia to explore its oil and gas potential, highlighting the role that the country’s hydrocarbons play in promoting investment and energy development. The Vice Minister went on to discuss defining issues in Namibia’s energy sector while highlighting the role that regional collaboration has made with regards to energy development in Senegal and the West African region.
“With Mauritania, we manage all our oil and gas resources together and I think this is a very good example of integration between regional neighbors to manage these kinds of resources while promoting local content. And now we are working on continuing our dream towards exploring our potential in terms of gas and in terms of oil,” Vice Minister Niane stated.
During the discussion, the speakers explored how a just energy transition can improve intra-continental cooperation and investment with the goal of eliminating energy poverty. As such, H.E. Gabriel Mbanga Obiang Lima spoke on what priorities will need to be established for the continent to advance its energy capabilities while ensuring the full potential of its oil and gas resources.
“It’s very important that diversification happens early. We saw what other successful oil-producing countries have done with the development of hydrocarbons and how they have utilized these resources to make sure that the energy dilemma is managed correctly,” H.E. Minister Lima stated, adding, “You need to deliver on your agenda if you want to see the benefits of development. You will then be able to diversify.”
Having recently been anointed one of APPO’s newest member countries, following TotalEnergies’ Venus-1 and Shell’s Graff-1 discoveries, Namibia is well-positioned to become a major African oil and gas producer. With the country set to start its first oil and gas production in the next five to seven years, H.E. Dr. Ibrahim addressed Namibia’s increasing investment gap and how international partners can boost the development and exploitation of oil and gas resources to address the continent’s growing energy poverty.
“Sometimes, it’s a blessing not to be the first. When you are not the first, you learn from the mistakes of others, which is something Namibia has been benefitting from,” H.E. Dr. Ibrahim stated, adding that, “There is a gradual belief that no one African country can make it successfully in the oil and gas industry without collaboration and integration, and as such, APPO has really provided good leadership.”
Despite growing calls and international pressure for Africa to participate in the global energy transition, it was noted during the panel discussion that, lest the continent risk sitting on stranded oil assets that are key towards socioeconomic development and energy expansion, Namibia and its regional partners will have to position the oil and gas industry to play a more significant role in power generation and petrochemical industrialization.
“The robust economic benefits of local content policy in any economy cannot be underestimated. These efforts, however, have not yielded desired results. The effectiveness of our local content policy and the development of our oil and gas resources has depended on the capacity of local individuals to take the opportunities that are present now and available in the hydrocarbons sector,” stated Hon. Andrew Mercer.
Poised to become a major player in sub-Saharan Africa’s hydrocarbon sector, Namibia has sought to develop favorable legal frameworks governing the exploitation, development, and production of oil and gas. As such, the country has been actively working to enhance competitiveness in the sector while aiming to modernize and improve the overall governance of the industry.
“We have a lot of experience and to avoid potential errors, which cost money, we can work with Namibia and share our experience in extraction, and we can share industry information with Namibia to overcome any challenges that might arise in the future,” stated Paulino Jerónimo.