Roundtable Explores Economic Ties Between Saudi Arabia and Africa at AEW 2023

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A roundtable discussion held at AEW 2023 in Cape Town on 18 October featured a Saudi Arabia-Africa Energy Investment Forum that highlighted the untapped potential for stronger economic ties.

African Energy Week (AEW) 2023 featured a Saudi Arabia-Africa Energy Investment Forum roundtable that explored the untapped potential for stronger economic ties between Saudi Arabia and African nations.

The roundtable discussion kicked off with opening remarks by Saudi Arabia’s Saudi General Authority of Foreign Trade, Hussam Y. Algheraimil, who spoke on the Middle Eastern country’s strategy to implement financial relations with African countries while contributing towards attracting investment to the continent.

“Our main goal is to contribute to attracting investment, exploring access, and representing Saudi Arabia,” Algheraimil stated, adding, “We are currently working to create easy trade between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and African countries by helping stakeholders find appropriate financial instruments in the short, medium and long-term.”

The roundtable discussion served as an engaging conversation on how increased trade, particularly in petroleum products and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), and collaboration across upstream, midstream and downstream segments can contribute to addressing energy poverty across Africa, with Saudi Arabia serving as a strategic gateway.

“We want to build strong, win-win partnerships,” stated Rene Awambeng, Director and Global Head of Client Relations of the African Export-Import Bank, adding, “Saudi Arabia is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the African opportunity. They are uniquely placed in this environment to take advantage of what is happening on the continent.”

“LPG can help us in South Africa in a big way in terms of ensuring supply and access to energy. Saudi Arabia has a different problem, they have too much energy. We have a lot of people in the country and region with no access to power and I believe there is a big opportunity to bring LPG from Saudi Arabia to use here,” stated Godfrey Moagi, CEO of the strategic solutions organization, the Strategic Fuel Fund.

The roundtable discussed the role Africa’s vast, and yet unexploited oil and gas resources play in delivering a just and inclusive energy transition. As such, South Sudan’s Minister of Petroleum, Puot Kang Chol, stressed the importance of turning the continent’s resources into value and engaging with international partners to ensure the facilitation of investment and knowledge transfer.

“My expectations with regard to Africa, is having Saudi Arabia engage in direct conversations with the continent, because we are ready to do business with them and we have the necessary laws to facilitate investment on the continent,” Minister Chol stated.

As Africa seeks to maximize the development of its entire energy resource base, including oil, gas, coal and renewable energy for a secure and sustainable energy mix that will support the continent’s efforts to accelerate electrification and drive socioeconomic development, the roundtable speakers highlighted cooperation regarding knowledge sharing, skills development, project deployment and financing with global parties as vital for the continent’s energy goals.

“The bilateral cooperation in place between Saudi Arabia and South Africa has opened an opportunity for us,” stated Sandisiwe Ncemance, Acting CEO for the state-owned Petroleum Oil and Gas Corporation of South Africa, adding, “It would be an indictment on us not to seize those opportunities. There is untapped potential for economic ties to increase trade between Saudi Arabia and South Africa and also collaboration through all facets of the energy sector, through the down-, mid-, and upstream.”

As one of the world’s premier hydrocarbons producers and exporters, Saudi Arabia’s participation during this session, titled, ‘Partnering with Africa’s Private Sector to Drive Energy Growth’, served to shape discussions around the challenges and opportunities for local content development and the beneficiation of the local market.

“Local companies are able to add tremendous value in our ability to implement and develop projects,” stated Nanda Bhula, Country Manager for electric power generation company, ACWA Power South Africa, adding, “Local companies have a big understanding of local conditions, more so than international investors. Local companies also understand things like supply chain management and local labor laws, so we see a lot of benefits in terms of their understanding of the local market.”

Africa boasts an estimated 125.3 billion barrels of crude oil and 620 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves, resources that will be essential to lift the continent’s over-600 million people living in reliable access to electricity out of energy poverty. As such, the Saudi delegates speaking at the roundtable discussion spoke on the importance of drilling more oil and gas wells and building more refineries and pipelines whilst reducing emissions for energy independence, reliability, and affordability.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has established leadership in this domain, and we always want to continue playing that role of leader in energy,” Dr. Gasem Fallatah, Deputy Manager for the sustainability initiative, the Oil Sustainability Program stated, adding, “Leadership comes with responsibilities, it comes with accountability, and we do recognize that. We will determine together what will be the agenda that we can work on, so we can determine together, the future that we would like to see.”

Representing one of the world’s largest oil and gas reserve holders as well as one of the most established hydrocarbons markets, the Saudi delegation drove the dialogue on how Africa can boost investments, production activities, infrastructure rollout across the mid- and downstream sectors, as well as enhance the use of monetization of hydrocarbon resources to make energy poverty history across the continent by 2030. It was noted that these efforts and strategies are poised to improve the continent’s GDP and contribute towards global energy security.

“Saudi Arabia, with huge financial capacity, they designed the model that can help Africa stabilize and grow their own energy potential. As African countries, what we need to look at, is the strategic position of how Saudi Arabia is increasing their businesses. There’s a lot to learn in how they are engaging and in doing business, and we need to create new markets for our products and crude to expand our business framework,” stated Kola Karim, Managing Director and CEO for power solutions company, Shoreline Energy International.

Taking place under the theme, ‘The African Energy Renaissance: Prioritizing Energy Poverty, People, the Planet, Industrialization and Free Markets’, the roundtable also highlighted renewable energy and sustainability as key aspects towards Africa’s energy development. Boasting similarly abundant solar and wind resources, it was noted that Saudi Arabia’s and Africa’s renewable energy potential also has an important role to play in alleviating energy poverty while promoting socioeconomic development.

Representing the largest gathering of energy stakeholders on the continent, #AEW2023 – organized by the African Energy Chamber – prioritizes sustainable development, integration, and collaboration as a means to support explorers and producers across Africa. Centered around partnering with the private sector to drive energy growth, the Saudi-Arabia Energy Investment Forum showcased how emerging synergies between Africa and its global partners will reinforce the continent’s job creation, skills development, and economic empowerment.

#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.