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African govts urged to be more active in energy sector

By: Suad Yakubu
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The Executive Director of the Center for Extractive Development in Africa, Mr Emmanuel Kuyole, has called on African governments to take active part in the energy sector, specifically in the area of oil and gas.

Speaking as a panellist at a seminar organised by IMANI Centre for Policy and Education in conjunction with OCP Policy Center in Accra, he highlighted the need for African leaders to demonstrate readiness to change the energy sector narrative by providing adequate infrastructure.

“Like it or not, where the continent is at the moment, we will need a very thinking and careful government to be able to solve this problem”, he stated.

 He noted that African leaders were not committed to the long-term benefits of the energy resources and thus do not endeavor to preserve them.

“Our leaders are more export-oriented in their thinking and getting the immediate returns than to do the hard work and put in place the infrastructure and having the patience to making sure that we provide the energy sources to meet demand,” he said.
Mr Kuyole, however, expressed optimism about the future despite what he described as the glaring challenges in the energy sector.

The panel session was on the theme, “Exploring the role of Oil and Gas in facilitating Energy access and exploring the benefits for Greater Regional Integration of the Energy sector.”

Meeting demand
A Senior Fellow at the OCP Policy Centre, Mr Francis Perrin, said Africa as a net exporter of oil and gas, and other energy resources, must build its capacity to meet its own local demands.

He said that Africa was energy resource rich in oil and gas with a production capacity of eight billion barrels per day but with a refining capacity of about 3.5 billion.
“It means Africa has a lot of oil to export. We should not only produce and export but must be engaged in consumption. Africa must build more refineries and renovate more of the old ones to refine more oil to meet local and regional demand,” he stated.

Making choices
A Technical Adviser on Energy and Petroleum at the Ministry of Planning, Dr Ishmael Ackah, said the potential of Ghana’s energy resources was evident but there was the issue of choices, each with its attendant consequences.

“First, we have a potential which we have identified. Then we must make a choice: export, refine and export or refine locally and use. But all these choices have consequences. Whatever you are going to take depends on the contract you signed,” he said.

Paying realistic tariff
Dr Ackah said the energy sources must be considered as an economic good which has the capability of raking in investments and higher yields rather than a social good which outcomes are tax returns.

He also suggested the introduction of tariff systems to ensure that power was used productively.