Despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, African Energy Week (AEW) showcased that the continent was always capable of hosting large-scale energy events.
In 2021, Africa Oil Week (AOW) made the decision to take its conference to Dubai, citing the fact that Africa was not equipped to host a large-scale conference in a safe manner due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision to take the conference out of Africa, despite representing a platform centered on African energy, resulted in the discussions about Africa being taken out of continent and led by international stakeholders. AOW claims that the event is focused on supporting Africa’s needs, and yet the decision to leave Cape Town for Dubai contradicted this very ambition.
Then, in 2022, AOW made the decision to return to Africa, claiming a commitment to driving investment in African energy. Yet, when Africa most needed investment, the conference organizer was quick to take it to Dubai.
What African Energy Week sought to prove and was successful in doing so, is that Africa always has been capable of hosting large-scale events. Under strict COVID-19 safety measures, the event proudly hosted delegations from both the African and global energy sector, with billions in investment secured from the first edition of the conference alone. In 2022, the conference attracted thousands of delegates, with a series of industry-focused deals signed by companies and investors. When Africa most needed investment, AEW was quick to respond, providing a platform where stakeholders could meet and deals be made.
Now, in 2023, the conference promises an even bigger and better event than before, with expanded panel discussions, networking functions and engagement opportunities laying the foundation for widespread and sustainable growth in Africa.
This year’s edition of AEW takes place under the theme, ‘The African Energy Renaissance: Prioritizing Energy Poverty, People, the Planet, Industrialization and Free Markets,’ and represents the platform where decisions on Africa’s energy future will be made. Since the event’s inception, AEW has represented a platform where every segment of the African energy sector is explored, with focus placed on how Africa can grow, capitalize on its natural resources while mitigating climate change in the age of the energy transition.
This discussion could not come at a better time for the continent. In 2023, South Africa is faced with one of its worst energy crises it has ever faced, with rolling blackouts reaching up to ten hours a day. Despite having significant quantities of oil and gas reserves revealed with the Brulpadda and Luiperd discoveries, the country continues to struggle with inconsistent supply and high energy prices. Meanwhile, its neighbor, Namibia, has made three major oil and gas discoveries since 2022 – the Venus, Graff and Jonker-1X – and is making significant strides to develop these major finds.
Another neighbor, Mozambique, is gradually making progress with its three major gas projects – the Mozambique Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG); Rovuma LNG and Coral South projects – opening new opportunities for regional trade, if the right infrastructure is put in place. As such, while AOW continues to worry about being divisive and internationally-focused, AEW has placed the South African energy crisis as top of the agenda because AEW understands what people are going through and what solutions need to be put in place to address South Africa’s energy crisis.
However, AEW’s focus transcends South Africa, with the event recognizing and supporting the development of various oil and gas projects across the continent. In Senegal and Mauritania, first production is expected for the Sangomar and Greater Tortue Ahmeyim projects, showcasing the potential for offshore E&P investment. In Congo-Brazzaville, marginal projects are making headway as the Government prioritizes gas investment and development while Libya has recently announced that production has reached 1.2 million barrels per day – a significant achievement.
Whereas in Uganda, progress continues to be made on the development of the Lake Albert Development, a multi-faceted project that promises new opportunities for energy security and industrialization in East Africa. All of these projects and many more will be showcased at AEW, with investment opportunities made clear to existing and potential investors.
This year, even more focus will be placed on African energy security and sustainability, with discussions centered on how the continent can industrialize, electrify and economically thrive while at the same time decarbonizing through the development of a strong green energy base on the back of oil and gas revenue. From addressing regulatory and fiscal matters to exploring green energy and low-carbon solutions to making a case for natural gas monetization and regional infrastructure developments, AEW 2023 is where energy deals are signed and developments kicked off.
“While they may create low energy advisory committees to showcase their focus on Africa, AEW will maintain its commitment to the continent by providing a comprehensive platform where energy stakeholders can meet and deals be signed. We are fully committed to driving investment across the entire African energy value chain and will continue to drive our narrative about making energy poverty history this year and beyond,” stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, adding that, “ We urge their committee members to advise them against misrepresenting the Ministers and speakers who will attend AOW. Attracting investment into Africa is our main focus. We have the position that African countries have the right to develop their oil and gas projects. Projects such as Uganda’s East African Crude Oil Pipeline are key for making energy poverty history and we want to partner with various governments for AEW to talk about an oil and gas strategy for Africa. We are not stage builders: we are a movement. We look forward to welcoming the regional and African energy community to Cape Town from 16-20 October for AEW.”
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