We need to find a balance to become less dependent on foreign countries and to better use our own resources.

Mahaman Laouan GAYA Executive Secretary APPA

in figures

Share of global oil production contributed by Africa: 12%

Share of global oil production consumed by Africa: 4%

Year APPA was founded: 1987

Africa’s energy transition

February 9, 2016

Mahaman Laouan Gaya, executive secretary of the African Petroleum Producers’ Association (APPA) and former secretary-general of hydrocarbons in Niger, discusses Africa’s shifting energy matrix, resource maximisation and the role of APPA in assisting African countries in securing access to better, cheaper sources of energy.

How will African countries’ approach to the energy industry change in the future?
In the context of low oil prices, we need to consider a new policy based on a vision for APPA. In April 2015, APPA’s member states agreed to launch a global, in-depth institutional reform to reshape the association towards better efficiency and visibility.
Even though discussions about facing peak oil and the possibility of the end of the petroleum era seem alarmist, we should still be concerned. One area of concern is the amount of petroleum products wasted in Africa. For instance, billions of cubic meters of gas flared every year could be used to fuel power generation units.
Reducing the waste of oil and gas will require APPA to train countries in implementing new policies for achieving energy efficiency.

What will APPA’s post-reform objectives be?
Like every other international organisation in the industry, APPA must integrate itself in the context of an ongoing energy transition. To this end, we have been seeking collaboration with the UN to be part of its Sustainable Energy for All programme launched in 2010-2011.
The objective is for each member country to achieve at least a 30% share of renewables in their energy mix before 2030. The energy transition in Africa means first switching to available resources of hydrocarbons, such as natural gas, before moving to renewables.
Africa presents a challenge with only a 1% share of energy from renewables. To meet this goal, we need to reduce the amount of wood used for fuel, which represents 80-85% of the energy matrix of the continent.


What is the role of natural gas in these new energy policies?
Each country has a different perspective on its energy policy, because resources, needs and consumption habits vary from one to another. Natural gas should be used in particular to produce electricity and for activities in the petrochemicals sector.
This gas can fuel the production of polyethylene and other natural gas-based commodities, such as methanol, urea and potash.
Using natural gas for petrochemicals is much more efficient than using it for power generation, as other sources, such as renewable energy and hydroelectricity, are cheaper.

How could Africa become more energy independent?
Importing technology for electricity production from Europe and the US has had a negative impact on Africa’s energy security. We need to find a balance to become less dependent on foreign countries and to better use our own resources.
This objective has become a priority among the members of APPA. National policies will converge according to APPA’s guidelines to guarantee countries’ safer and more-reliable access to energy. Ensuring that hydrocarbons production benefits the African population will be crucial in this.
APPA will conduct a project to study the African market of crude oil and petroleum products. This exhaustive study will include all operations related to upstream development and the downstream transformation of petroleum in refineries.

How can APPA help African governments improve their energy policies?
APPA’s comparative study of regulatory texts of all major African countries’ upstream sectors will be a step towards harmonisation of the continent’s oil and gas regulations. This includes hydrocarbons codes as well as oil and gas exploration and production contracts.
APPA can help countries better define their policies. It can also reach out to non-member states to assist them adopting a modern oil and gas regulatory framework.
Finally, we are also working on a study to draw a comprehensive map of the geology basins and stratigraphy characteristics for all African countries. It will include a complete analysis of fields and blocks and potential development in Africa. The upcoming study will create a finalised picture of the petroleum network in Africa, which could then be used to draft international agreements to prevent border conflicts. This would give us the basis for a unified African petroleum policy.

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