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Illuminating Africa’s Energy Future: Insights from the 2024 Nigerian International Energy Summit

Dignitaries at the NIES 2023

By William Emmanuel Ukpoju
In the heart of Africa’s most populous nation, the 7th edition of the Nigerian International Energy Summit (NIES) 2024 convened in Abuja, marking a fundamental moment in the continent’s energy landscape. Against a backdrop of global energy transitions and evolving geopolitical dynamics, stakeholders from government, industry, academia, and civil society gathered to chart a course towards a sustainable and secure energy future.
Nigeria, often dubbed the “Giant of Africa,” stands as a beacon of potential and promise on the continent. With its vast population, abundant natural resources, and dynamic economy, Nigeria holds a pivotal role in shaping Africa’s energy landscape. In this feature, Valuechain delves into the complexities, challenges, and opportunities facing Nigeria’s energy sector, exploring the insights and initiatives unveiled at the Nigerian International Energy Summit (NIES) 2024.

Theme and timeliness
The theme of the 2024 NIES, “Navigating The New Energy World Order: Security, Transition and Finance,” resonated deeply with the challenges and opportunities facing Nigeria and Africa at large. Against the backdrop of rapid transformations in the global energy landscape, the summit provided a platform to address critical issues of energy security, transition, and financing. As Nigeria seeks to diversify its economy and harness its abundant energy resources, the timely discussions at NIES underscored the imperative of strategic vision and collaboration in shaping the continent’s energy future.

Presidential vision and the imperative of energy security
Emphasizing the paramount importance of energy security for Nigeria’s sustainable development, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu set the tone for the summit with his inaugural address: energy security stands as the cornerstone of Nigeria’s sustainable development agenda; from the removal of petroleum subsidies to fostering private sector participation, President Tinubu articulated a strategic vision to ensure transparency, accountability, and resilience in Nigeria’s energy infrastructure and emphasised the critical importance of energy security for Nigeria’s future.
According to the President, “energy security as we know is of paramount importance; it is not just a national concern, it is also a global imperative. In the face of emerging challenges, both geo-political and technological, we must ensure the resilience of our energy infrastructure. The decisions we make here will impact the energy security of generations to come.”
Speaking on petroleum subsidy removal, the President has this to say: “This gathering affords me the opportunity to once again address a crucial issue that has been at the forefront of our national discussion: the removal of the petroleum subsidy. Our great nation has long been dependent on the revenue generated from oil export and as we stand at the threshold of the 21st century, it is imperative that we re-evaluate our energy policies to ensure a sustainable and secure future. The decision to remove petroleum subsidy is a challenging one but it is a step that we must all take to secure our energy future and foster economic growth and development. Energy security is a paramount concern of any nation striving for economic stability and development. It encompasses not only the availability and accessibility of energy resources but also the resilience of our energy infrastructure. The petroleum subsidy has over the years, strained our economic resources leading to inefficiencies and most importantly, hindering our ability to invest in critical areas of energy security”. The President added, “By removing subsidies, we are creating a more transparent and accountable energy future. The funds that were previously allocated to subsidising petroleum products are now re-directed towards developing and upgrading our energy and other social infrastructure. Furthermore, the removal of the petrol subsidy has encouraged other private sector participation in the energy industry with the potential of attracting more local and international investors. This, of course, leads to innovation and competition that will drive down costs and improve the overall efficiency of our oil sector”.
“The decision to remove the petroleum subsidy is not an easy one, it is a necessary one for the long-term energy security and economic prosperity of our beloved nation. While we are immersed in energy security, let us not forget that energy transition is another key aspect of our discussion. We stand on the brink of a new era where traditional energy sources are being complimented and in some cases, replaced by cleaner and more sustainable alternatives. This transition is not only an environmental necessity but also an economic opportunity. We must leverage innovation and collaboration to ensure a smooth and just transition that will leave no one behind,” the President said.
President Tinubu also spoke about the current challenges facing Nigerians, “…I’m actually aware of the effect this decision may have had on our citizens especially those with lower incomes… in parallel with the subsidy removal, and my administration is committed to implementing social intervention programmes to mitigate the short-term effects on vulnerable populations. These programmes will therefore ensure that the burden of the subsidy removal is shared equitably and that the most vulnerable among us are protected.”
Speaking on finance as crucial to energy security and development, Mr. President noted that, “Finance has always played a pivotal role in driving the energy agenda. Adequate funding is crucial to support the developmental and deployment of cutting-edge technologies, infrastructure and projects that will shape our energy future. As a nation, we must explore innovative financing models, engage with the private sector and attract investments that will propel us to a more resilient and diversified energy sector. The collective wisdom in this is a powerful source going by the collection of government, industry leaders, the academia and civil societies all coming together under the NIES 2024 platform to share insights and forge collaborations that will drive progress”, he concluded.

Global perspectives
The presence of international dignitaries, including H. E. Haitham Al Ghais, Secretary General of OPEC, and H. E. Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, Secretary General of APPO, added a global dimension to the summit. Their insights into Africa’s role in the global energy market and the importance of regional cooperation stressed the interconnectedness of energy security and economic development. From OPEC’s historic ties to Africa to APPO’s visionary plans for the continent’s energy industry, the contributions of these esteemed leaders provided valuable perspectives on Africa’s energy renaissance. The politics vis-à-vis the quest for renewable energy was the salient path towed by Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim. According to him, “all the environmental concerns are the sensible reasons for the quest for energy transition; the driving ideology of energy transition is energy security. Energy security, not for you and me but for the developed countries that have used fossil fuel for over a hundred and twenty years to industrialise their economy and to make the lives of their people better.
“In one hundred and twenty years, they put in the atmosphere, over two thousand, five hundred Giger tonnes of emissions. It is this legacy emission that is the root cause of the climate crisis we are told the world faces today. But instead of addressing the root causes of the crisis, namely the legacy emissions, we are focusing on the contemporary emissions”.
“As we gather here, we should be asking ourselves if the solutions that the developed countries are putting forward to address the climate challenge are the only or the best solutions that shall bring justice to all.
“Africa cannot afford to abandon, hundreds of billions of barrels of proven crude oil reserves and hundreds of trillions of standard cubic feet of gas in the name of righting the wrong committed by others, especially when those others are still benefitting from the wrong actions that they took at the expense of others and they have the capacity to right those wrongs without denying others the opportunity to also use the same source of energy to better the lives of their people”, he quizzed.
The renowned APPO Chief ended his speech by calling on African leaders, academics and intellectuals to put on a new “thinking cap” that will guarantee energy security for future generations in Africa, “It is imperative on African academics, intellectuals and leaders to put on their thinking caps and to see the imperative of a new paradigm shift in the search of solutions to the climate challenge. For us in APPO, we have put on that cap already, we are looking at a new model of sustaining and growing the African energy industry”, he said.
Lending his voice to this call, the Honourable Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Oil), Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, said, “In my capacity as Minister for Petroleum Resources (Oil), I’ve aligned with the APPO Secretary General, I’ve aligned with the OPEC Secretary General, I’ve aligned with my colleagues all over OPEC and in Africa. Our target is to explore these resources in a more environmentally and sustainable way. We are not stopping, we need the money to build and transit, and for us to transit, we must get the right investments.”
Like other speakers, Sen. Lokpobiri also spoke about energy security, but this time, he questioned why Nigeria has not been able to turn around its fortunes using the abundant oil and gas reserves found in the country. He said, “let me talk about energy security in Nigeria; Nigeria suffers from energy poverty even though we have an abundance of oil and gas reserves. I have said oftentimes that these abundant reserves have not translated to economic prosperity, contrary to the situation we have found in the Middle East. Go to Kuwait, Saudi and UAE you will see that it is the same resources that we have that they have been able to translate into prosperity. What are they doing that we cannot do? That is the question we should ask ourselves and this summit should look for answers”, he quizzed.
“The time has come for this 2024 summit to be able to unravel what other countries have done to be able to bring economic prosperity to their nations that we have not done even though we may have more resources in terms of reserves than they have. At the end of this summit, I believe that we will be able to resolve that puzzle so that going forward, we will be able to transition toward real economic prosperity.”
Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri also frowned at situations whereby oil wells are allocated to politicians who do not have the technical capacity to translate crude to wealth. “What we have done in the past, a situation where the allocation of oil blocks is politicised and it ended in the pockets of politicians. I have also said, if you have reserves underground and you don’t bring them out, they don’t translate to anything and the only way we can do that, in my opinion, is to ensure that we give it to those who have full capacity, both financially and technically to be able to explore this oil and gas for the benefits of Nigerians”.
“What this government wants to bring is to ensure that we identify those who have proven capacity, both locally and internationally so that we will be able to explore these resources for the benefit of our people. For us to guarantee energy security in Nigeria, we need to get the right investments at this particular time”, he added.

Gas: Nigeria’s path to sustainable energy
Rt. Hon. Obong Emem Ekperikpe Ekpo, Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Gas), emphasized the pivotal role of gas in Nigeria’s energy transition. With significant reserves and a commitment to cleaner energy sources, Nigeria is poised to become a regional powerhouse in gas production and utilization. From power generation to industrialization, gas emerges as a key driver of Nigeria’s sustainable energy future. To this end, Hon. Ekperikpe pointed out, “In our transition to a sustainable energy future, Nigeria has chosen gas as our transition fuel, facilitating it from more conventional to new and renewable energy sources. With its lower carbon, natural gas aligns with global climate objectives while providing a reliable solution for our energy needs. Nigeria with significant gas reserves should leverage its advantage to become a key player in the global energy transition and a regional powerhouse for geo-processing and industrialisation.”
Ekperikpe noted that the 2024 NIES theme, “resonates deeply with the path the gas industry must take to ensure Nigeria’s economic transformation.” He added that “Energy security extends beyond geopolitical stability to include energy infrastructure, resilience, diversity and reliability. The gas industry with its abundant proven reserve of more than 208 trillion cubic feet and further exploration potentials is crucial for enhancing energy security. With the proven reserves, Nigeria has no business with energy poverty”, he reaffirmed.
Most importantly, the Honourable Minister highlighted four major steps his ministry is taking to revitalise the country’s economy through natural gas:
“One, we are accelerating the development of gas-fired power plants and working with our counterparts in the Ministry of Power to ensure a reliable gas supply to enhance the optimal availability of electricity nationwide. This goes hand-in-hand with encouraging private sector participation in the power sector through attractive investments, frameworks and incentives”.
“Secondly, we are promoting the use of natural gas for industries to reduce operational costs and enhance completion. We are doing this by facilitating the establishment of gas-based industries to create more employment opportunities and boost economic growth”.
“Thirdly, we will continue the development of the necessary infrastructure widespread access to clean and affordable natural gas for domestic consumption and encourage the adoption of Compressed Natural Gas energy (CNG) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) for transportation and household use respectively”.
“Lastly, we will continue to strengthen partnerships with neighbouring countries to enhance regional gas trade and cooperation through the West African gas pipeline and other initiatives including the Nigerian-Morocco gas pipeline and the Trans-Sahara Gas pipeline among others. We also want to explore more international markets for our Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exports, thereby positioning Nigeria as a major player in the global gas market.”

Indigenous empowerment and industry transformation
A highlight of the summit was the emphasis on indigenous participation and empowerment in Nigeria’s energy sector. Speakers such as Mele Kolo Kyari, GCEO of NNPC Limited, and Mr. Abdulrazaq Isa, Chairman of Independent Petroleum Producers Group (IPPG)/Walter Smith Group, highlighted the transformative potential of empowering local operators and driving industry innovation. Their calls for collaboration, investment, and inclusivity highlighted the shift towards a more sustainable and inclusive energy ecosystem in Nigeria. For Mele Kyari, the decision of the NNPC to fast-track the transition of the exiting IOCs is sacrosanct. He stressed that “at the NNPC, we facilitate any sale on accessing discounts and we have no interest in preventing any of our partners from taking down their position”.
“If we have the choice, we would love Shell and Exxon Mobile to remain in Nigeria but that is not an option now, they would like to exit and it is our job to facilitate their exits in a manner that will be mutually beneficial to the exiting partners, the incoming partners and also the NNPC Limited. Don’t forget that NNPC Limited is owned by over 200 million people and the key issue is that every arrangement must be of mutual benefit to all. It is not enough to exit, our partners are working harmoniously with us and we understand their support for NNPC Limited to ensure that we retain value for all. We are working with our multinational partners to ensure that in the end, more resources will be created, more capacity will be created in our country, and indigenous companies including NNPC can develop more capacity to ensure that we fit into the on-going energy transition conversation”.
“Let me assure our partners that we will work with you, all we want is for us to do something that will be of mutual benefit to all and don’t forget that we are now investors. We are not regulators; we are a business with a role to provide national energy security by law. This means the balancing is the role of the oil company, particularly the NNPC and I am sure no country has that clarity of definition like we have in our country today”, he stressed.
On the other hand, Mr. Abdulrazaq Isa, Chairman of Independent Petroleum Producers Group (IPPG)/Walter Smith Group is very hopeful that the divestment will “bring about the growth of indigenous participation in Nigeria and control in the country’s energy sector which will lead to increased empowerment, economic growth and potentially, more sustainable management of Nigeria’s hydrocarbon resources.”
Mr. Abdulrazaq further stated, “overall, the divestment of oil and gas assets to indigenous operators in Nigeria will foster greater sustainability, inclusivity and prosperity within the industry and the broader economy. As this new dawn emerges for our industry, notably driven by indigenous operators, energy security as well as accelerated bio-capture from Nigeria’s hydrocarbon assets, socio-economic development and transformation of our citizens must remain a priority.”
The IPPG Boss however expressed worry that “The current status where the sellers have signalled full intention to leave, whereas the buyers are yet to effectively take over the operations of the assets, is very detrimental to the sector and the country.”
He called on the government to ensure prompt intervention with the view to untangle all issues and diligently fast-track all relevant approvals.

Collaborative solutions and innovative financing
Throughout the summit, collaboration emerged as a central theme, with stakeholders across sectors and borders coming together to address Nigeria’s energy challenges. From exploring innovative financing models to leveraging technology and expertise, the discussions at NIES 2024 showcased a wealth of collaborative solutions to drive progress. The commitment to harnessing collective wisdom and resources accentuated the transformative potential of partnerships in shaping Nigeria’s energy future. One is key- for Africa to triumph and get the energy transition right; it must have access to finance. This was the major call by all the participants at the Summit and for Nigeria to succeed in this regard; accessing finance must be top on the agenda.
To this end, H. E. Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, Secretary General of APPO, reassured that “on 31st March 2024, a decision on which African country will host the Africa Energy Bank will be taken. Seven countries are in the race for it; Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Benin Republic and Cote d’Ivoire. There is real competition. The take-off is on or before 30th June this year”, he reaffirmed.
According to the Honourable Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Oil), Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, “Funding is fundamental and the only way we can be held back in optimising the potential we have in the oil and gas industry is our inability to access finance, if we have access to finance, we will invest the way countries in the West are investing”.
The Honourable Minister said, “America is the highest producer because they are sustaining their investments in oil and gas” and lamented that “…in the last five years, we have slowed down on investment in oil and gas, and we are the lowest in the world. Between 2017 and 2022, if we look at the figures, Nigeria’s investment compared to sales was only 5%, Angola had 46%, Brazil had 150%, Mozambique had over 90%, and Ghana had 615%. There must be something we are not doing that we must start doing now and this is the essence of this year’s summit”.
He expressed happiness that” …the theme of this year’s summit has to do with energy security, energy transition and finance. It is our candid hope that you the experts that are gathered here for these three days’ summit will be able to come up with some ingenious ideas to ensure that we have energy security in Nigeria and ramp up production because we have so many idle wells. The only way we can guarantee security is to ramp up production in the upstream so that the midstream and the downstream can also be successful. We need to increase our production in upstream so that we will be able to produce the right quantity that will service our obligations both locally and internationally.”
Sen. Lokpobiri nevertheless, gave some reassuring updates about what the government is doing to guarantee stability and production in the industry. “Dangote Refinery needs about 6050 b/d; we are rehabilitating our government-owned refineries that want to meet up with about 4050 b/d. We have a couple of modular refineries that are also coming up. We need to ramp up production to ensure a smooth transition from fossil fuel to gas because our gas is associated. At the end of this summit, we should have solutions to our fuel problems; Nigeria does not need to import fuel. Our refineries will come into full operations by the end of this year, like Port-Harcourt Refinery, the first phase has begun, Warri is about to be completed between now and the next two months, Kaduna will follow, and all will be rehabilitated this year”, the Minister reassured.
While making suggestions about funding for the industry, Sen. Lokpobiri said “At the OPEC level we need an OPEC Bank, perhaps the West is no longer willing to fund oil investments in Africa, let’s get an OPEC Bank that can fund our investments.”
As the curtains close on the 2024 Nigerian International Energy Summit, the echoes of collaboration, innovation, and strategic vision reverberated across Nigeria and beyond. The insights, initiatives, and partnerships forged at NIES 2024 lay the foundation for a brighter and more sustainable energy future for Africa’s powerhouse.
With leadership, collaboration, and a shared commitment to harnessing Africa’s energy potential, the journey towards illuminating Africa’s energy future has only just begun. As Nigeria charts its course towards a sustainable energy future, the insights and initiatives unveiled at the Nigerian International Energy Summit 2024 offer a roadmap for progress. From energy security to industry transformation, Nigeria stands at the border of a new era in its energy journey. With collaboration, innovation, and strategic vision, Nigeria is poised to harness its vast energy potential to power the nation’s growth and prosperity, setting an example for the continent and beyond.