……..Africa Has 50% of Global Billion People Lacking Access to Energy – Shell Boss
By Chibisi Ohakah, Abuja
President of the Nigerian Gas Association (NGA), Mr. Ed Ubong, has called on African economies to harness the continent’s natural gas for industrialization and economic diversification.
Obong, who is also the managing director of Shell Nigeria Gas, said the vast gas resources available on the continent, especially in West Africa, must be used to power the continent’s industrialization agenda.
The NGA president, who addressed participants at the just concluded Ghana Gas Forum held in Accra, opined that there is certainly enough gas to power the 350 million people that live in West Africa, both from the power and industrial perspective, whereas Africa has 50% of over one billion persons lacking access to energy globally.
The Shell Gas boss regretted however that the economies in the West Africa sub region had not taken enough advantage of quantum natural gas to power their industrial sector, stressing that the percentage of gas used by industrial sector in the sub region remains low.
According to him, Nigeria has scored poorly in gas management, moving from the eight to 20th in the league of countries with abundant gas reserves globally.
“But when you ask how much of that gas we actually bringing to the surface, we begin to move backwards from eighth to 20th. When we ask a more pertinent question of how much of the gas we actually consume in our power and industrial sector to create jobs that will translate into economic growth, we further move backwards to top 50.
“In a day we can produce about 7.8 bcf of gas but in terms of what is actually consumed in the domestic market, it is about 1.2 bcf a day. To get to where we need to in terms of economic growth, things have to change,” he told the gas summit
He urged the nations in the sub region to encourage industrialization across various clusters using natural gas, citing the one district one factory initiative as one of the policies that natural gas can help out by providing a cheaper source of power to the sector.
“We need policies like the one district one factory across Africa. We need industries close to where we have rural and urban centres that are actually manufacturing goods and services and are also employing people,” Ubong said.
The NGA president pointed out that globally, over a billion people lack access to energy and out of that number, 50% are in Africa. He said natural gas could however help the continent to close that energy deficit and deal with the poverty question hanging on the continent.
“Energy, when properly channeled can change lives and we need to build the regional infrastructure connectivity. Gas must provide the power and electricity that Africans require. We must stop burning firewood and stick to gas as the major source of fuel for our cooking,” he stated.