Sylva Advocates Floating of African Energy Bank to Boost Oil, Gas Sector

With the declining global investment in the oil and gas sector, the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, Monday called for the establishment of an African energy bank to help boost business activities in the sector on the continent.

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) had recently projected that the global oil industry will require about $12.6 trillion investments in the downstream, midstream as well as upstream to sustain its innovative and production efficiency in the next 25 years.

It warned that Nigeria’s economy as well as those of other resource-dependent countries may be badly affected, especially if the current push against fossil fuels continues to gain ground.

But speaking during a visit by the Minister of Hydrocarbons, Equatorial Guinea, Mr. Gabriel Lima, in Abuja, Sylva said since western nations were scaling down funding for hydrocarbon exploration across the world and focusing on renewable energies, setting up an African energy bank remains a viable way to neutralise the threat.

According to the minister, the call for the establishment of the bank is heightened by the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), stressing that the Act will open up the oil and gas sector for huge investments, going forward.

“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 set up 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.

“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),” he emphasised.

While calling for synergy among African nations, the minister noted that no country in the world would help Africa develop aside Africans themselves and therefore called for unity among nations in the continent.

“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 the African Petroleum Producers’ Organisation (APPO),” he added.

While emphasising the urgent need for African countries under APPO to come together to work out a more realistic timetable for energy transition for the continent, Sylva said that Africa needs to look inwards.

He urged African leaders to close ranks through a solid platform to resist the clamour for sudden transition from hydrocarbon to renewable energies, and called for research into African problems and fully explore the huge potential in the continent.

Earlier, 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 emphasised the need for Africa to strengthen the South-south cooperation, stressing that Africa should not always expect to find solutions to its problems in Europe and America.

Lima said he was in Nigeria to follow up on an earlier engagement between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea as well as explore other areas where both countries can partner.