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Saudi Arabia’s ambition to drive energy growth across Africa

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The Saudi Arabia-Africa Energy Investment Forum roundtable discussion at the African Energy Week (AEW) held in Cape Town, South Africa this week. Image credit: African Energy Week.

Saudi Arabia’s ambition to drive energy growth across Africa     

Saudi Arabia wants to build stronger relationships with African countries and has eyed the continent’s energy sector as a strategic opportunity to tap into.

This became clear during a Saudi Arabia-Africa Energy Investment Forum roundtable discussion at the African Energy Week (AEW) held in Cape Town, South Africa this week. The Forum 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,” said Algheraimil, 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.”

Addressing energy poverty in Africa (Saudi Arabia’s ambition to drive energy growth across Africa)

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,” said 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 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,” said Minister Chol.

As Africa seeks to maximise 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,” said 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.”

Local companies add value (Saudi Arabia’s ambition to drive energy growth across Africa)

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,” said 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 labour laws, so we see a lot of benefits in terms of their understanding of the local market.”

Several of the Saudi delegates speaking at the roundtable discussion referred to 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 said adding that leadership comes with responsibilities, it comes with accountability. “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,” said Dr. Fallatah.

Monetising hydrocarbon sector (Saudi Arabia’s ambition to drive energy growth across Africa)

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 monetisation 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, designed the model that can help Africa stabilise 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,” said Kola Karim, Managing Director and CEO for power solutions company, Shoreline Energy International.

Boosting renewable opportunities (Saudi Arabia’s ambition to drive energy growth across Africa)

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 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.

Source: African Energy Chamber

Saudi Arabia’s ambition to drive energy growth across Africa

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Saudi Arabia’s ambition to drive energy growth across Africa    


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