Africa benefits from global energy consumption surge

The world’s unquenchable thirst for energy is expected to strengthen Africa’s position as an international investment location. This in turn will boost the continent’s economy and benefit ordinary Africans.

“Africa has become an important gas and oil producer and the continent seems to be on everyone’s radar these days,” said Willy Olsen, senior advisor at the Norwegian Oil and Gas Partners (INSTOK).

“Not only does Africa account for 2.5 percent of the world’s oil production, 25 percent of the world’s top 200 top gas projects are situated on this continent. Africa also has the most open gas and oil markets in the world,” he emphasised.

Olsen spoke during the 2010 edition of the African Energy Week. The four-day event kicked off on Monday in Cape Town and is attended by hundreds of oil experts, government officials, and representatives of international oil and gas companies from Africa and elsewhere.

Africa’s importance as a global oil and gas-producing region will grow over the coming years, Olsen highlighted.

“The global energy consumption between now and 2030 will increase by 45 percent to 50 percent, of which fossil fuels will account for 80 percent,” Olsen said.

“Because Africa is rich in oil, gas and other mineral resources, it therefore harbours plenty of investment opportunities,” he said, adding how a total amount of US$140 billion will be invested in Africa’s oil and gas infrastructure between 2011 and 2014.

Various African countries seem to be gearing up for the future, and as a result their oil and gas production is expected to grow over the next years. Equatorial Guinea, since 2004 is the third largest oil producing country in Sub Saharan Africa, for instance expects its oil production to jump with 100 000 barrels a day by 2012.

“We are taking our oil and gas production very seriously,” said Gabriel Obiang Lima, Equatorial Guinea’s vice minister of mines, industry and energy.

“Over time we have invested over USD2 billion into our country’s energy infrastructure. We will continue to do so. Our aim is not only to provide energy, but to provide quality,” he said.

Boosting Africa’s oil and gas sectors will also have a positive impact on people’s lives, said Liberia’s lands, mines and energy minister Eugene Shannon.

“The Liberian government is determined to ensure the oil and gas revenues trickle down to the people,” he said.

“The poor should be helped because they have been the last ones to experience the benefits of our wealth.”

According to Antonio Vieira, general manager at the Equatorial Guinea office of international oil and gas exploration company Ophir, Equatorial Guineans are already benefiting from the oil and gas industry.

“In 2000, the country’s capital city counted about 300 cars and not a single car dealer.”

“Today, Malabo harbors 10 000 cars and six car dealers. This means that people earn enough money to afford a car,” he explained. Malabo residents are also benefiting from improved infrastructure. In 2000 Bioko Island, which is home to Malabo, counted 48km of paved roads compared to 350km today.

“In 1999, it took me two days to travel along the Island. Today it takes approximately 2.5 hours,” Vieira explained.

“The upgrade of basic infrastructure such as the road network is a direct result of the oil revenue, and has had a severe impact on local people’s lives.”

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