Inside the gem-packed Africa Energy Week

October 27, 2023

Africa is on a definite rising level of economic progress, as demonstrated during the Africa Energy Week hosted by the Africa Energy Chamber in Cape Town, South Africa, under the theme ‘The African Energy Renaissance: Prioritizing Energy Poverty, People, Planet, Industrialization and Free Markets’.

Time and again, we are reminded of our potential as a continent and progressively keep proving that we can make it to becoming the world's sustainer in every aspect.

For me, the Africa Energy Week was an amazing experience, bringing together leaders and leading voices from across our continent and beyond. African human and natural resources can be self-sustainable, and with combined efforts, they can make Africa achieve its potential in this and other sectors.

Seeing the regional leaders putting their minds together on multiple developmental issues was very reassuring. As a young woman in the industry, I felt so assured of my future and the future of my children, learning that Africa can make it to a point where reliance on first-world countries is being archived as an ancient phenomenon, only to be looked back at in awe with a “wow, is this where we were?” effect.

It was a great feeling seeing how Namibia has grown from strength to strength to the point of becoming a topic of serious discussion on regional and global platforms, now being a hotbed for clean energy and hydrocarbon prosperity.

Having a progressive President who understands the new world business order, championing high-level business relationships that usher in win-win partnerships for the nation, has seen us witnessing “yours truly” His Excellency Hage G Geingob wooing international investors and receiving accolades and lifetime awards for his remarkable leadership style. His business acumen and forward-thinking navigation of Namibia’s resurgence from economic demise in recent years cannot go unnoticed.

At the conference, he spoke confidently about the model approach of our country to develop its energy resources without contradiction, thereby also developing green hydrogen technologies concurrently as we progress into a just transition. Our nation is poised to become a “sub-Saharan clean energy powerhouse”.

Due to post-Covid economic effects, Africa has been hit with double-digit percentages of unemployment rates, and Namibia has been no exception. However, the great potential to turn around the rhetoric is glaringly in the making.

Fostering positive business relationships can make Africa economically emancipated, especially through cross-border collaboration. Namibia has been a beneficiary of solidarity learning from case studies of many others, especially African countries that gained independence before her. This includes the discovery of oil, from which we have seen many countries, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, suffering from the resource curse of these oil discoveries instead of being blessed.

This puts us in a position of more cognisance in all our dealings while benefiting from the experiences of others. Thus, our government and the leadership can indeed be commended so far for the local content policy draft in progress, compared to other countries that only adopted these policies much later.

For example, Nigeria only got its local content policy signed into law in 2010, many years after the discovery of oil in 1956 and subsequent production to date.

Being a young professional in the oil and gas industry, I never thought I would see the day that would accommodate women in top positions and take strategic vantage roles. This industry has been male-dominated, and it was almost a myth to find women participating at consequential levels.

I was privileged this past week to rub shoulders with powerful women in the energy industry at the Africa Women Business Energy Network luncheon, where in C-suite, experienced women met with young women who are either entrants or relatively new in the energy industry.

It was an excellent opportunity to network and share ideas on how women can and should be successful in the industry.  Looking at these women and their level of enthusiasm, it was clear that the energy industry has come of age and benefited from having balanced gender recruitment strategies.

The luncheon was followed by a round-table panel discussion, which featured a diverse group of influential women leaders in the energy sector from across Africa. Listening to some of the most powerful women, the likes of Engr (Mrs) Oluseyi Afolabi and Mrs Grace Orife (Nigeria), tabling their profound presentations and insights on tackling Africa's energy poverty challenges, offered me rays of hope that I can make it in the industry with no doubt.

The youth also made impactful contributions at the Youth Energy roundtable discussion, which recognised young Africans’ role in advancing the African energy industry agenda and transition.

It was comforting to know that one can easily acquire mentors, advisors and business partners to walk the energy journey with.

I acquired my engineering degree in the oil and gas exploration space when Namibia never had any significant discovery of oil mineral resources, and this has made me somewhat idle for a while, figuring out how I would enter the industry.

With the recent discovery, I feel relieved knowing I can be of use to the industry locally. Attending the Africa Energy Week in South Africa widened my perspective on what I can contribute to my continent. Meeting leaders and captains of industry from various countries and sharing their wealth of experiences and knowledge gave me insights and assurance in growth.

The moment has arrived for young Namibians, particularly women, to seize opportunities in this lucrative industry.

The African Energy Chamber, championed by its influential Executive Director, Mr NJ Ayuk JD, continues to be the voice of Africans on energy issues, especially promoting the role of women. This was clear as I witnessed women taking centre stage in the discussions and plenary sessions.

Their (Africa Energy Chamber) support is consummate, and they understand the strife that we go through to earn global respect in the industry. A huge thank you to the leader NJ and the entire team of the chamber for a well-organised, smooth and informative week.

Energy access has been a problem on the continent, yet we have all the resources required. We have seen energy-starved nations like Zimbabwe, South Africa and Malawi struggle with power cuts and load shedding, which hampers industrial growth. Yet, just one single country, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, if given enough support, could power the whole continent on hydro-energy alone.

Namibia could do the same if the green hydrogen vision is embraced and realised.

Africa is life and is the future, and that future is now. Let us embrace what we have and harness all our resources towards sustainable development to make the world a better and greater place. May we all recommit ourselves to work towards a “just transition” and unlock Africa’s untapped energy potential.

Arise Africans and show the world your potential.

*Kledura Imalwa is a registered engineer with the Namibia Engineers Council. She holds a Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Exploration Engineering of Mineral Resources (BSC.Hons) Eng., China University of Geosciences, China and an MBA in International Business from the Emerging Markets Institute of Beijing Normal University. Kledura is fluent in Mandarin, English and other African languages.




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Last modified on Friday, 27 October 2023 16:29

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