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Upstream Financing: AEC Paris Forum Explores Role Enabling Environments Play Ahead of AEW 2023

The Upstream Financing panel saw an exploration of Africa’s upstream sector, with speakers discussing emerging trends and financing mechanisms.  

The Upstream Financing panel saw an exploration of Africa’s upstream sector, with speakers discussing emerging trends and financing mechanisms.  

Africa’s energy and economic future hinges on the monetization of the over 125 billion barrels of crude oil reserves and 620 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and despite the significance of these resources, investment has been on the decline as capital is redirected towards renewable energy solutions. During the Invest in African Energy Forum – held this week in Paris as a prelude to the African Energy Week (AEW) conference (October 16-20) – a panel explored Africa’s upstream outlook, the opportunities and challenges faced, and the role enabling environments play in securing investment.  

Speakers on the panel included Maggy Shino, Petroleum Commissioner at the Ministry of Mines and Energy of Namibia; Marco Villa, COO, Technip Energies; Dr. Carole Nakhle, Founder & CEO, Crystol Energy, and Director of Access for Women in Energy; Elison Karuhanga, Partner, Kampala Associated Advocates; and Ian Cloke, COO, Afentra.

Africa’s upstream market is characterized by a series of offshore discoveries, attention turning to deepwater basins and onshore prospects enticing frontier players. Despite E&P success to date, much of the continent’s acreage is largely unexplored, presenting lucrative opportunities for investors and project developers alike.

During the panel, speakers emphasized the role enabling environments play in securing investment and E&P player participation. According to Dr. Nakhle, “We should not underestimate the power of taxation and fiscal terms. The whole fiscal regime can make or break a sector.”

With favorable fiscal terms and simplified business procedures, investing in Africa will be made that much simpler. For frontier markets such as Namibia, Shino stated that the country will “forge ahead with exploring and developing resources. The peace and stability that Namibia offers to the world will remain. We are not changing our regime and our contractual terms. We are committed to ensuring final investments are made.”

Adding to this, Cloke provided insight into the company’s success in Ghana, commenting that, “We took the Jubilee discovery in Ghana from discovery to first oil. This is an example of what an enabling environment and competitive fiscals do.”

As discoveries move towards development stages, challenging operating environments such as those in deepwater basins call for innovative approaches and technologies. Stepping into this picture, service companies with a strong track record of delivering offshore projects are playing an increasingly more important role in Africa.

Commenting on offshore opportunities, Villa stated that, “We are more concentrated on offshore discoveries where there are higher resources, lower political risk and greater access to global markets.”

However, as Karuhanga stated, “We are seeing a massive disinvestment in the oil and gas space,” and with over 600 million currently without access to electricity, “the need for Africa to develop its oil and gas cannot be overstated.”

Recognizing the crucial role oil and gas will continue to play in Africa’s energy future, AEW 2023 will showcase the range of upstream prospects on offer across the continent while tackling the challenges to development and the solutions unfolding by African energy players. To secure your spot at the most highly anticipated energy gathering on the continent, visit for more information. 

AEW 2023 is the African Energy Chamber’s annual energy event. This year’s edition takes place in Cape Town from October 16-20 under the theme, ‘The African Energy Renaissance: Prioritizing energy poverty, people, the planet, industrialization and free market.’

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