A Just Energy Transition as advocated by President Macky Sall, will benefit Senegal’s economy, and create jobs for its young people

African oil- and gas-producing countries have been facing increasing pressure this year to abandon oil and gas activities and begin relying instead on green energy sources like wind, solar, and hydrogen to help prevent climate change. Many of these African countries are pushing back, however, and rejecting the notion that their energy transitions should follow the same pattern as Western ones.

In Senegal, where the development of oil and gas fields has put the country on the precipice of tremendous economic growth, Minister of Petroleum and Energy Aissatou Sophie Gladima has pushed and worked for a tempered and balanced approach to protecting the environment, one that considers the pressing needs of Senegalese people and businesses and the African Energy Chamber believes it is a step in the right direction.

Under President Macky Sall, Senegal is on the verge of unprecedented growth from our oil and gas resources.  In 2019, our revenues from the hydrocarbon sector reached $42.5 million, a 37% increase from 2018. Senegal’s oil and gas industry is expected to boost GDP growth by 13.7% by 2023.

This is dramatic proof of the power of Senegal’s resources to usher in a new era of economic expansion for Senegal. At the African Energy Chamber, we continue to believe that Senegal is fully committed to the strategic development of oil and gas to ensure a thriving nation.

Senegal is equally committed to minimizing our carbon footprint while recognizing and affirming the danger of climate change and the need for environmental protection. But a rush to renewables at the expense of economic growth and energy security does a great injustice to Senegal and its people.

Senegal is firmly committed to an energy transition that honors the dual priorities of socio-economic development and environmental preservation. We are not ready to give up on the dream of a just and inclusive energy transition, and we are demonstrating that it can be done.

As one of Africa’s newest oil and gas producers, Senegal and its oil and gas activities have a critical role to play in advancing Africa’s energy growth. Senegal is home to two of the largest single projects currently underway, the SNE (Sangomar) oilfield by Australia’s Woodside Energy and the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim LNG gas project by BP/Kosmos Energy. The deepest offshore project in Africa, Tortue Ahmeyim is expected to produce up to 10 million metric tons of LNG a year, with commercial production scheduled for 2023.

With a goal to create jobs and provide opportunity for young people, Senegal needs to monetize its gas reserves. The great potential of onshore Senegal should not be overlooked especially with the work that American Entrepreneur Rogers Beall and Africa Fortesa have done in the country.  Senegal will be on path to become energy independent and drive industrialization with domestic gas and build the necessary infrastructure to drive its future. Local content and women empowerment that has been key to the agenda of Minister Aissatou Sophie Gladima will only benefit our energy industry because opportunity and jobs are better than development aid. Service companies like Halliburton, Schlumberger, Technip Energies Sepco, Modec and many others are leading the charge with hiring, training and developing many young people working hand in hand with Aguibou Ba, the Executive Director of the Institut National du Pétrole et du Gaz.

Together with other key players shaping the current boom in Senegal’s oil and gas sector, these projects are expected to attract vast sums of foreign direct investment (FDI) to Senegal over the coming decade. Senegal’s real GDP growth rate slowed to 0.7% during 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic but is forecast to recover strongly in 2022-25 as new hydrocarbon production gets underway.

What’s more, Senegal recognizes the potential of natural gas as a transitional resource, and by integrating natural gas with large-scale renewable energy developments, we have been proactive in facilitating an energy transition while establishing regional energy security and accelerating socio-economic growth in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Macky Sall’s gas-to-power strategy has the potential to provide cheaper, cleaner, and more accessible energy for Senegal. An urgent priority — and crucial benefit — of its energy transition strategy is the alleviation of energy poverty, our ability to generate power more widely and affordably. Senegal has one of the highest electricity costs in West Africa. With new natural gas coming onstream, SENELEC will soon switch from burning heavy fuel oil to natural gas, which is not only far more environmentally sustainable, but also much more cost effective.

This will catalyze the expansion of a wide range of industries that have been unable to compete effectively in the past due to high electricity costs. Cement, infrastructure development, light industry, agribusiness, transportation, and many other sub-sectors will benefit greatly from more easily available and affordable natural gas.

We recognize the value of energy mix diversification and energy sector unification in achieving socio-economic objectives. We consider energy a single entity, with each resource representing a bankable opportunity. Supported by the Emerging Senegal Plan, a new development model that constitutes a benchmark for economic and social policy in the medium and long term, we believe our progress and development can serve as a model for the energy transition in other resource-rich African countries.

As an advocate and model of resource development through partnership, Senegal will have a strong presence at the Africa Energy Week 2021 in Cape Town and the MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power 2021 conference and exhibition, under the patronage of H.E. Macky Sall, President of Senegal, and in partnership with the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, COS Petrogaz, Petrosen and various US and Canadian energy industry associations.

Under President Macky Sall, Senegal has always shared the African Energy Chamber’s objectives of uniting regional players to expand cross-border business and collaboration within the energy sector continent-wide and attracting international investment to grow energy activities that creates jobs and prosperity for our young people. We are committed to advancing the energy transition dialogue and the African narrative.

We believe it is not only possible but critical to ensuring a just and reasonable energy transition. We are confident we can successfully work to preserve our environment while harnessing the full potential of our resources. We remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure an energy transition that benefits Senegal and all of Africa.