Africa’s biggest and most prestigious upstream conference ended on Thursday with high-value deals, and strong intent for future investments in the continent. The event, which was held from 8th to 11th November 2021 at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai – making it the first edition in AOW’s 27-year history to be held outside of the continent – was supported by key sponsors including TotalEnergies, Eni, ADNOC, Chevron, Shell and Equinor, among others.
For Africa, by Africa
With more than 45 Ministers and Government leaders attending the power packed event, along with two Commissioners from the Africa Union, and several NGOs, AOW 2021 included comprehensive discussions about the future of the continent both in terms of achieving the green agenda, and zero emission targets, but also using the oil and gas revenues to improve healthcare, socio-economic developments, and the standard of living of the African people.
Currently home to 1.2 billion people, with an additional estimated population of 600 million below the age of 25 by 2050, the continent relies on the energy sector to power wealth creation, entrepreneurship, private sector expansion and industrialisation. Staying committed to the UN SDGs and the African Union Agenda 2063, the organisers of Africa Oil Week also announced launch of the inaugural Green Energy Africa Summit 2022 (GEA Summit) on the first day of the conference. The GEA Summit will focus on driving investments into low-carbon energy for Africa, by bringing together key stakeholders to facilitate innovation and dialogue, driving capital for the socio-economic development of Africa.
UAE’s interest in the African market
With the UAE’s investments in Africa reaching $5.64 billion in recent years, AOW will serve as a platform to fuel future collaborations and partnerships that can result in additional high-value deals in the energy sector. The participation of companies from the Middle East and the GCC at the Africa Oil week are testimony to the Middle East’s continued interest in partnering with the African energy sector.
In the inaugural keynote address at the AOW 2021, H.E. Suhail Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure in the UAE, emphasised the UAE’s long-standing ties with African nations and highlighted the country’s position as an emerging global financial hub.
Al Mazrouei said, “Africa is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Additionally, the huge economic transformation in the energy sector in the continent, makes it ideal for investments from around the globe, especially the UAE and the Middle East. As a global benchmark in industrial development through the efficient use of energy resources, the UAE is a regional leader. We have a huge interest in the African market, and we see that the interest has been mutual, with Uganda recently signing new business deals across sectors, including renewable energy, at Expo 2020 Dubai. We are certain that Africa Oil Week will act as a platform to facilitate more such investments and forge greater partnerships between international investors and the African public and private sector. As a close partner of Africa, we hope to facilitate capital flow that will result in socio-economic development for Africa and the Middle East.
Al Mazrouei added, “The Oil and Gas sector has seen unprecedented volatility since 2020 due to the pandemic. However, as the economy rebounds, we are witnessing recovery. Global economic growth for this year has remained strong, especially in the second quarter of 2021. In the UAE, moving forward to 2022, the Central Bank of the UAE estimates that the country will experience significant growth in terms of the GDP. It is evident to the world that oil and gas are significant sources of primary energy supply and strongly impact economic growth and the development of the industrial sector.”
His Excellency Khamis Juma Buamim, Chairman, Dubai Council for Marina and Maritime Industries (DCMMIEmirates) said, “We have shared long and close ties with Africa, and this has been a wonderful opportunity for us to revive those ties, at least in collaborating with the oil and gas sector. It was enlightening for me to attend the Africa Oil Week and be part of some of the national energy showcases, where I was able to learn of key opportunities in the African Energy sector and meet with the ministers of some of the African countries from Kenya, Mauritania, Ghana and have a face-to-face discussion with them about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. By sharing knowledge and expertise, we will be able to unlock new doors for some valuable deals between the two sides.”
Resolving the problem of energy access and infrastructure
One of the key challenges being faced by the Energy sector in Africa is the problem of access to energy, where a large majority of the population have no access to cooking gas or electricity.
H.E. Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, African Union highlighted, “Africa is rich in natural and nearly all forms of energy resources, but we have a problem with energy access. About 600 million people in Africa do not have access to electricity and 900 million to clean cooking, so that is a key area that we are working on. We need to consolidate our efforts to ensure that we have the appropriate expertise and technology to meet the clean energy demands of the African people. We are making a conscious effort to transform Africa into a green continent by introducing programmes and formulating policies that will steer us in the right direction; collaboration is key in this regard. Africa has a young population, which is estimated to rise dramatically in the next few decades bringing Africa’s population to about 2.5 billion people by 2050. So, we must be prepared to cater for their needs as well by ensuring that the energy transition translates into socio-economic development, empowerment, and elimination of gender inequality as well as other forms of inequality. Africa must have its fair and just level of access to energy especially at this stage when we are moving very fast with achieving our targets and intend to carry the same momentum going forward.”
According to H.E. Didier Budimbu Ntubuanga, Minister of Hydrocarbons of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the biggest issue being faced by the African continent in energy is the infrastructure. He said, “due to the massive developments taking place in Africa, we have to make sure to equip, especially in terms of roads and transportation related to hydrocarbons, it’s the main challenge. The opportunities in DRC are huge because the country has only harnessed only 4% of its hydrocarbon reserves, so there is still a long way to go. Africa Oil Week is a platform where governments and operators can connect, and we are here to showcase the various opportunities available in the DRC. We believe that we have the chance to show the potential of our country and convince people about the invitation tender we will be launching in 2022, so everyone who’s taking part in this event can join us so that we can work together.”
Focus on Diversity
Moving on pace with its diversity and inclusion agenda, the AOW initiated the AOW Accelerates: Diversity & Inclusion programme, which champions greater diversity, equity and gender parity across the industry. The AOW annual breakfast briefing this year was hosted in partnership with Lean In Energy (LiEN) and was an invaluable opportunity to explore the role of diversity and inclusion within Africa’s energy transition, host progressive dialogue and drive inclusive growth across the industry, to ensure that women have a presence, voice and opinion in shaping the industry they work in, and widen the circle to welcome male allies into their discussions.
According to Lamé Verre, Co-Chair Europe & Sub-Saharan Africa, Lean In Energy, more needs to be done to achieve gender parity in workplaces, she said, According to Lamé Verre, Co-Chair Europe & Sub-Saharan Africa Lean in Energy, more needs to be done to achieve gender parity in workplaces; she said, “I think having 50 percent of the population represented in the workforce makes good business sense. If we want diversity of thought, then it is vital to include all forms of diversity, including gender, into the picture to have sustainable, lasting solutions that will help us with the energy and climate crisis the world will face.
“Generally, there is female participation in Africa, you have women going to school and many of them joining the workplace. We have female presidents in Africa, with several females in Houses of Parliament across the continent, so women are participating, but what we are saying is that the energy sector is slightly behind many of the other sectors because it has predominantly been male-dominated and white. Therefore, it is about restoring that balance between race, gender, ethnicity, and everything in between to ensure that all segments of society lend their voices to the discussion and decision-making. So, I am hoping that those who were in the gender diversity panel will go back to their countries and organisations and become the agents of change to promote diversity and inclusion within their spheres of influence.”
Successful AOW 2021
After the event’s phenomenal success, TotalEnergies, a key sponsor of the Africa Oil Week 2021 will be pleased to come back next year to Cape Town.
Henri-Max Ndong Nzue, Senior Vice President Africa at TotalEnergies expressed his pleasure, “We came here with a delegation of 40 people because we are committed to Africa. Coming here and just observing the huge participation and the valuable input we got from the attendees, made us renew our partnership with the Africa Oil Week. We are looking forward to return to cape town with the AOW and pursue discussions with all our stakeholders.”
Guido Brusco, Upstream Director at Eni, said, “It was an absolute pleasure to be at the Africa Oil Week in Dubai, where we exchanged ideas on the energy sector and discussed ways to go about the energy transition using key technologies that will enable the continent to achieve their green agenda and zero emissions target. We are looking to work closely with the organisers to see how we can add greater value and ensure that the African Union’s Agenda 2063 targets for the continent are met, and how we as a global energy provider can provide the necessary expertise to facilitate that.”
Commenting on the event’s success, Paul Sinclair, Vice-President of Energy & Director of Government Relations, Africa Oil Week said, “We have had a phenomenal event with tremendous participation from African ministers, decision makers, and key industry players during the four-days. The numbers show that there is active interest from countries and companies from around the world in Africa’s energy sector. We are also overwhelmed with the support from our sponsors who have been instrumental in giving greater exposure to the event and furthering the progress of the sector. This year we couldn’t hold the event in our natural home due to the large numbers that we convene from the African and the international community. So, Dubai has been a fantastic option for us, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time here, the comments being made by the governments are very positive, they felt it was necessary to have this conversation now.
“We are very much looking forward to going back to Cape Town next year and working with all our partners from the 30+ countries that have committed to us on an ongoing basis.”
Africa Oil week is the leading business intelligence and deal-making platform for Africa’s oil and gas sector, with the continent’s most senior E&P stakeholders that facilitates with setting out the future direction of Africa’s upstream deals and transactions, securing major deals, driving investments into African projects, and facilitating new lucrative partnerships and networking opportunities for the African upstream.