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U.S.-Africa Roundtable Positions U.S. as a Critical Energy Ally at AEW 2023

As Africa pursues a just and inclusive energy transition, the U.S. will be a critical partner in developing technology, crafting policy and facilitating investment on the continent.

A high-level roundtable discussion at the 2023 edition of African Energy Week (AEW) highlighted how the U.S. and African countries can continue to partner across technology, policy and investment.

The session began by delving into the U.S.’ relationship with Equatorial Guinea – in which it is the largest single foreign investor  – and emphasized the need to identify bankable opportunities and create strong value propositions for Equatorial Guinea’s energy prospects.

“I want to spend more time targeting companies and talking about concrete projects and opportunities,” stated Equatorial Guinea’s Minister of Hydrocarbons, Antonio Oburu Ondo. “We need to forget about tackling these issues in terms of help and we need to think more about how to improve companies’ revenues and improve Africa’s economic opportunities. This is about business and the economy.”

Panelists placed climate policy and global competition at the forefront of the discussion, highlighting how the landscape for U.S. investors in Africa has changed amid the current energy transition. Discussions outlined the U.S. approach to investing in Africa’s energy sector, whereby sustainability and synergy have become prerequisites for collaboration.  

“On the clean energy side, it’s important that Africa embraces these immense opportunities, which will become the next Googles and Amazons in the tech-world going forward,” stated Secretary General for the International Energy Forum, Joseph McMonigle. “This is going to create productive and transformative changes in Africa’s economic and energy landscape.”

With U.S. supermajors like ExxonMobil and Chevron continuing to play an instrumental role in developing projects and monetizing resources in Africa, the roundtable stressed the importance of oil and gas as transition resources to assist the continent in achieving energy security and stimulating industrialized growth.

“Economic development is one of Africa’s top priorities,” stated Atul Arya, Senior Vice President and Chief Energy Strategist for S&P Global. “The energy transition will not be a speedy transition. Overall, Africa has such a small contribution to emissions that economic development should be a priority.”

On the investment side, the panel explored the role that U.S. investment can play in building investor confidenceand helpingattract capital from other international markets into Africa.

“The African opportunity – integrating the continent into global markets – offers a great opportunity for the U.S. private sector,” stated Rene Awambeng, Global Head of Client Relations at the African Export-Import Bank. “There is a lot of public sector capital on the African continent. There are so many programs put into place in the U.S. that support African projects, and we would like to see more collaboration with U.S. institutions on the continent.”

Working closely with regional governments to scale-up local content, U.S. energy firms have demonstrated their commitment towards capacity building, knowledge sharing and technology transfer to Africa. The panel noted U.S. willingness to assist the continent in developing its resources in a sustainable and reliable way.

“We are providing the eyesight for nations and communities to see what resources they have, where they can cite alternative sources of energy. Regardless of your preferred source of energy, it will require eyes on the ground and assistance from the geo-service energy, which will contribute to policies that support nation’s access to data, technologies and opportunities for investment,” stated Nikki Martin, President of EnerGero Alliance.

Last month, the U.S. inked several agreements with African leaders to fast-track the continent’s green energy sector. Poised to help Africa’s energy transition ambitions, up to $200 million has been mobilized to expand access to renewable energy across the continent.

“We need to keep in mind that for a continent that is rich in diversity of energy resources, decisions around which technologies will work best in the clean energy space are highly specific to certain countries’ needs,” noted Reed Blakemore, Director of Research and Programs, Global Energy Center.

As the U.S. Department of Energy continues to strengthen relations with key international partners, Africa is well-positioned to leverage U.S. expertise to support investment, drive collaborative partnerships and technology deployment, while scaling-up energy access, security and resilience.

“When we talk about sustainability, we have to talk about it in more than one way – it’s a multifaceted concept,” stated Joshua Volz, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Africa, the Middle East, Europe & Eurasia for the U.S. Department of Energy. “The partnerships that we seek with Africa in the U.S. energy space takes into account African priorities of development, African priorities of economic progress, access to power, decarbonization and the energy transition.”

Taking place under the theme, The African Energy Renaissance: Prioritizing Energy Poverty, People, the Planet, Industrialization and Free Markets, #AEW2023 unites energy policy makers and stakeholders with global investors to discuss and maximize opportunities within the continent’s entire energy industry. Under the mandate of driving sustainability and making energy poverty history by 2030, U.S. participation in African energy will be critical for the continent as demand for innovative approaches to energy development continues to grow.

#AEW2023 takes place this week in Cape Town under a mandate to make energy poverty history by 2030. Keep following for more exciting information and updates about Africa’s premier energy event.

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