Career development

The Future of Oil and Gas in Africa: Driving the Net-Zero Global Transition in an Inclusive Manner

An overview of the Women Leadership Program at the 2022 Nigeria Annual International Conference and Exhibition.

NAICE participants gather for an exhibition tour.
NAICE 2022

The Women Leadership Program (WLP) is a critical segment of the Nigeria Annual International Conference and Exhibition (NAICE). The program aims to unite successful women within and beyond the oil and gas industry to converse over trending industry topics.

The 2022 program began with a goodwill message by H.E. Amina Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, followed by a keynote address by Austin Avuru, executive chairman, A.A. Holdings Limited, then finally a lead presenter, Yewande Sadiku, investment professional. The program was followed by a roundtable discussion.

Avuru, an industry professional with over 40 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, lamented the low participation in organizations like SPE. He said that once there is a gender balance in a team, innovation and productivity become the organization's driving forces. Furthermore, he discussed the need to encourage Girls in STEM and investment in education for problem-solving from the grassroots.

In the case of the energy transition, Avuru excellently shared how Africa, as a continent, can champion its sustainable energy transition. He tasked the industry leaders and stakeholders to drive a concept that will leverage emerging technologies to decarbonize Nigeria's production and processing of oil and gas.

An experienced investment professional with a track record of public service, Sadiku explicitly added to what led the speaker's point of the need for African countries to create financial institutions that will accelerate investment to aid sustainable energy transition. To meet up with future trends and opportunities, stakeholders should invest heavily in STEM education for girls, especially in the green economy.

The ex-banker shared her inspiring journey from a humble background by adding that, without deliberate support, all the excellent women we have out there would not be where they are now. Therefore, programs like WLP should be strategically and financially supported. As a focal point of inspiration for Girls in STEM, Sadiku described her life experiences by tasking the upcoming generation to work for a reason, to know the rules that make life interesting, to prepare for life challenges and changes to come, to build resilience for future purposes, to learn skills, to find a community of people you can relate with. Most importantly, to keep women professionally engaged, all gender-based workplace policies should be championed by all.

Tolu Longe, manager, production support with Nigeria LNG, spoke about promising investment opportunities in gas and financing energy transition in the most sustainable way. Thus, taking advantage of Europe's current global energy crisis and beyond. She further discussed never-ending opportunities in carbon capture technology, which ensure justice to our God’s earth climate.

By looking inward, she brilliantly added, Nigeria can play a big role in the future. By diversifying the country's economy, the inflow of the country's wealth will significantly increase. Ultimately, this is possible, and we (Nigeria) are capable because the main source of money, for example, in UAE, is tourism, not oil or gas. Change begins with us.

Yinka Omorogbe, attorney general and commissioner of justice in Edo State, implored stakeholders and decision-makers in Nigeria to approach the energy transition strategically by targeting and deliberate exploration of the oil markets beyond Europe. Buttressing that, she cited that countries like Norway have their target markets outside domestic use. Nigeria needs to consider it as an export tool, and by then, we shall experience a stable economy

Encouraging women and Girls in STEM, Omorogbe said there are ample opportunities everywhere as the digital age provides a thriving chance for women more than before. She concluded by tasking women in the energy industry to become role models for the upcoming generation. When asked how to encourage women to gain more skills to be accommodated in the energy transition, she tasked the young and upcoming professionals to develop problem-solving skills and change their mindsets.

John Anim, the managing director of Platform Petroleum Limited with decades of experience in the energy industry, said the key focus for developing countries like Nigeria should be sustainability, not energy transition. He also said encouraging policies to accelerate energy transition should be put in place, which will drive change. He acknowledged efforts by the federal government to curb gas flaring. In his words, he said, burning gas is akin to burning money. Hence, the need to start processing gas to save our environment and generate revenue from gas. More specifically, stakeholders and concerned authorities should ensure that there is a particular implementation of policies.

Dr. Zainab Gobir, a policy wonk and E.D. Economic Regulation and Strategic Planning, NMDPRA, spoke brilliantly on Nigeria's journey from the Petroleum Industry Bill to Petroleum Industry Act (PIA). Though more is to be done, the country is promising to be a competitive and critical world-class energy supplier. As for the PIA, 12 regulations have been implemented, and many more are coming. Nigeria needs partnerships with the private sector to drive changes to achieve a greater status.

The SPE African Regional Director and industry expert with over 20 years of experience in the oil and industry, Oghogho Effiom, explained that gas has a good price in the domestic and international markets. The opportunities in gas alone can significantly change Nigeria's economy. Effiom further questioned the call for energy transition by saying that the key focus for countries suffering from energy poverty should be energy access before transition. As for the opportunities that come with the energy transition, she said that if investment opportunities are financially viable, more and more investors will come.

The panel discussion included a presentation on Girls in STEM, delivered by Monique Ofulue, the 2020 winner of Girls in STEM, Lagos Section. Ofulue discussed how the goal of Girls in STEM is to promote the advancement of professional women.

In conclusion, women in the energy industry are challenged to encourage the women in the energy industry to become role models for the next generation, mentor new talent, participate in diversity discussions aimed at bridging the gender gap, take measurements to facilitate work-life-balance, and always advocate Girls in STEM. More so, to support women, all gender-based workplace policies should be championed by all.