Programme Director, Ms Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa,
Mr Gwede Mantashe, Honourable Minister of Minerals and Energy, Republic of South Africa,
Mr Chiza Charles Newton Chiummya, Acting Director, Commission for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry and Minerals, at the African Union,
Honourable Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Members of Parliament from the continent present,
Wallace Pescarini, SLB President Offshore Atlantic Basin,
Captains of Industry and Leaders of the Oil & Gas Industry,
All Private Sector Colleagues Present,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honoured to be invited to this important Africa Oil Week conference. It is indeed inspiring to see that the continent is endowed with leaders committed to the developmental agenda of Africa articulated in Agenda 2063 as - The Africa We Want.
Let me from the onset tell you that we want an Africa that contributes to its growth and development, an Africa that is free, an Africa where the guns are silenced, an Africa of peaceful transitions – An Africa that is alive with possibility for all its people.
I am encouraged to know that Africa Oil Week has existed for 29 years. I am equally pleased that it has strengthened partnerships between governments and businesses within the continent.
Indeed, Africa wants to see growth in this sector and critically wants to see the consolidation of existing businesses and the growth of new ones led by the youth and women.
The theme for the 2023 Africa Oil Week, “Maximising Africa’s Natural Resources in the Global Energy Transition”, speaks volumes, considering that the globe, especially the global south, is confronted by the energy availability factor, which impacts the growth trajectory of our nations. Indeed, as a continent, we must champion the cause to maximise Africa’s natural resources during this global energy transition.
The status quo regarding access to energy shows a need for urgency in how growing economies address the energy crisis, considering the impact on people, businesses, the public sector and other stakeholders.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
South Africa is currently confronted with the challenge of electricity shortage, which has negatively affected our economy, undermining some of the efforts to address unemployment, among other critical challenges.
As a result, we are exploring alternative energy sources to ensure we have an adequate energy supply for our economy to operate optimally.
Given the programme for Africa Week, I am confident that over this week, you will have meaningful discussions that can serve and better respond to some of the challenges we have as a country and collectively as a continent.
Over the past few decades, the narrative of Africa rising has taken centre stage. We have remained optimistic about our continent. We have always believed that Africa will rise and carry everyone with us.
The rise of Africa has been seen recently in critical African economies such as those of Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, Angola, South Africa and others thriving amidst global challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermaths.
The African continent is taking its rightful place globally as an actor in political and economic discourse. African nations have acted as a bloc in their commitment to the Africa Free Continental Trade Area agreement, which aims to improve intra-African trade and investment, industrialisation and re-industrialisation for the continent's growth.
As leaders across various sectors, we are focused on safeguarding these gains and pursuing regional integration and development.
Therefore, as delegates of the Africa Oil Week, we must consider and broaden existing avenues for partnerships for economic development across the continent in the sector. For example, the African Development Bank’s Africa Investment Forum is a game-changer in this area, providing a platform for African countries and investors to close investment gaps for us to achieve our developmental goals – this is an initiative that must be supported.
There is no doubt that Oil and gas have an integral role in shaping the growth and development of our continent, and this platform provides an opportunity for us to strengthen collaborations and intra-trade further for our economies to grow.
I want to reiterate that platforms such as Africa Oil Week and others are strategic in providing an opportunity for the continent to converge on shared issues and exploit areas for partnership, economic growth and development of our continent. Such regional convergence can also help us better respond to some of the global crises we have seen in the recent past.
As governments in the continent, we are open to interventions and partnerships that will assist the economic growth of our economies and ultimately serve the needs of the people we serve.
Ladies and Gentlemen
As a natural resource-rich continent, Africa, through its resources, has significantly contributed to the expansion of many developed economies worldwide. It is indeed a paradox that while the continent boasts a wealth of resources, it is still largely confronted by high levels of poverty and underdevelopment.
The profitability of mineral resources has provided nations with the capacity to maintain industrial activities, as well as ensuring that there is energy security. In the world that we live in today, mineral resources are the currency that drives economic growth, it is therefore essential that any conversation about the sector must be anchored in the perspectives of African nations for their benefit.
There must be synergy in terms of how the resources that Africa is rich in are also able to empower and address some of the stubborn poverty in our nations.
The mission for the 2023 Africa Oil Week is to advocate for Africa to expand its oil and gas sector with effective and sustainable carbon management techniques, to support fair transactions that have a good global impact, and to leave a legacy of socio-economic development throughout the continent. This mission is central to our regional development agenda and must be fulfilled.
In our view, Africa Oil Week fits into the broader development goals as oil and gas are core to most of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, such as SDG 7 on ensuring access to affordable and clean energy, SDG 8 on creating good jobs and economic growth, SDG 9 prioritising industry, innovation and infrastructure.
In numerous ways, the development of our continent hinges on the success of transforming this sector. The African Union’s Energy Strategy provides a suitable framework for some of the discussions at this conference. Mindful of the limitations in development financing, especially in Africa, as business and strategic government leaders, it is worthwhile that some of the deliberations also explore the possibilities with the various development financing institutions such as the African Development Bank.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Oil and gas are global commodities that have the power to inform the growth or decline of all economies. The impact on the economy due to the Russia and Ukraine conflict is a prime example of how intertwined our economies are. Still, it also reveals the levels of dependency on resource-rich and capacity-strong nations for the economic development of our countries.
As a continent, we are responsible for safeguarding the interests of Africans and using all the mechanisms available to better respond to global crises of all proportions.
In recognising the global economy as we have it today, it is essential that we also think about the role that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) plays in the development trajectory of growing economies.
According to the 2023 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Report on the world’s investment, the number of companies investing globally decreased by 12% in 2022 to 1.3 trillion USD. Foreign Direct Investment fell by 37% in Africa to 378 billion USD. Investments in the renewal energy sector have contributed significantly to FDI. However, not enough has been done to expand renewable energy in Low-Middle Income Countries.
In light of this, there are notable opportunities for the expansion of FDI in some of our African countries, such as South Africa, Angola, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Nigeria and Morocco. This confirms that Foreign Direct Investments are essential in achieving the socio-economic goals we set for ourselves as individual countries and collectively.
The widening investment gap must also guide the conference in narrowing down avenues available to maximize efforts, especially in this sector.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is impossible to discuss the oil & gas industry without reflecting on the global climate change crisis. In talking about this, we must be honest about the need for just efforts in responding to climate change.
I will not use this opportunity to reflect robustly on the politics around climate change and how understanding these as complex and requiring more than just annual commitments made at the Congress of Parties is instrumental in dealing with the crisis in a way that benefits Africa.
However, our collective development as a continent should be a priority, and as leaders, we must equally be aware of the limitations given the preponderance of global warming.
While recognising the need to reduce carbon emissions, we are also aware and committed to economic development. Carbon management techniques should be used to assist with the mitigation of harmful greenhouse gasses whilst we introduce renewable energy sources.
Africa must set its transition period with reasonable terms and expectations, specifically considering its developmental needs. Other nations globally are doing the same!
As Africa, we must ‘keep the lights on’ during the transitional period! Fossil fuels provide the capacity to manage the transition without further jeopardising our developmental objectives.
We welcome that this conference presents an opportunity for African leaders to address some of the challenges that we are facing, such as access to capital for the financing of proposals for energy production, removing disintegration in our energy pursuits, and providing a platform for strategic policy discussions towards communities of practice in consolidating the shared agenda for building energy capacity in Africa.
In conclusion, I hope that you will have a meaningful conference that will provide a strategy for our individual and collective goals towards maximising the opportunities that exist, as well as contributing to achieving the broader development goals that we have towards the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and paving the way for the African Union’s Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.
Thank you, Merci, Asante sana!