Minister of state for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva has called for the establishment of an African energy bank to help boost investments in the oil and gas sector in the continent.
The minister said that setting up an African energy bank remains the only available alternative for African countries to continue to explore the vast hydrocarbon resources in the continent since western nations were scaling down funding for hydrocarbon exploration across the world due to the race for renewable energies.
In a welcome address during the visit of the Equatorial Guinea Minister of Hydrocarbon Mr Gabriel Lima, in Abuja, on Monday, Sylva said the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) has heightened the call for the establishment of the energy bank, stressing that the Act will open up the oil and gas sector for huge investments going forward.
He said ”The PIA is a watershed moment for us in Nigeria. This is the time for us to get out of Nigeria to market this investment environment. We must not go out of Africa to attract investments. We must setup structures to fund our system. If we insist on the exploration of our oil and gas reserves when the world is cutting down on investments in the sector, we must set a financial institution, an African Energy Bank to develop the oil and gas sector”.
Analising the issue further, the minister said “If we go into more exploration in Africa, we will find more oil and gas and must we leave it under the ground because the other countries are racing for renewable energy? We must find a way to explore it and that’s why we need an energy bank along the line of the African Development Bank (AfDB)”.
While calling for synergy among African nations, the minster noted that no country in the world would help Africa develop other than Africans themselves and therefore called for unity among nations in the continent.
He said “none of us can grow without each other. It is not all the time that we run to Europe or America or elsewhere for support. We need to keep talking and we need mutual cooperation to solve our own problem. We can achieve this under African Petroleum Producers’ Organization’s (APPO)”.
While emphasizing the urgent need for African countries under APPO to come together to work out a more realistic time table for energy transition for the continent Sylva said “as Africans we must learn to depend on ourselves. If there are services to be provided and Nigerian service companies have the expertise to provide such services why must we go to Europe and America to source for such services? That is the essence of collaboration”.
While urging African leaders to close ranks through a solid platform to resists the clamuor for sudden transition from hydrocarbon to renewable energies, Sylva said “we must research into African problems. We can and we must do that to be able to explore the huge potentials in Africa”.
Speaking during the visit, Lima congratulated Nigeria for the historic passage of the PIA and noted that with the passage of the law the country was ready for serious business in the oil and gas sector of the economy.
He emphasized the need for Africa to strengthen the South South cooperation stressing that “it is not good for us to go far to do business. We need to cooperate with our neighbours,” adding that “we can’t expect to find solutions to our problems in Europe and America”.
Lima said he was in Nigeria to follow up on an earlier engagement between Nigeria and Equitorial Guinea as well as explore other areas where both countries can partner.
Permanent secretary of the ministry, Dr Nasir Sani-Gwarzo gave the welcome address while the group managing director Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, Mallam Mele Kyari gave the vote of thanks at the meeting.