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Full list of top 25 Africans to transform energy sector in 2022

Two Ghanaians have been named in the list of impactful individuals who are not only leading African companies and organisations into an era of enhanced activity but also positioning the continent as a globally competitive energy market

The African Energy Chamber (AEC) has announced a list of Africa’s top movers and shakers in a push to promote the role of African players in driving energy sector growth and success.

The chamber also recently announced the launch of its highly anticipated State of African Energy 2022 outlook.

Comprising an outline for Africa’s energy sector, the report provides reliable information on Africa’s power industry, emphasising challenges and opportunities, and paving the way for an influx of investment in the continent’s lucrative energy sector.

Specifically, the outlook draws attention to the influential and impactful individuals who are not only leading African companies and organisations into a new era of enhanced activity, but positioning the continent as a globally competitive energy market.

Dynamic year ahead

The list aims to note individuals active across the whole sector value chain who are making significant progress to advance Africa’s energy industry.

With 2022 poised to be both a remarkable and a dynamic year for Africa’s energy sector, the projects, initiatives and objectives undertaken by these individuals will be both exciting and transformative.

The list is a form of introduction to these projects, providing readers with a starting base for further analysis of Africa’s plans for 2022.

“The State of African Energy 2022 outlook is an exceptionally detailed, multi-sector understanding of the current and future state of the African energy sector,” says N J Ayuk, executive chairman of the AEC.

“Within the report, data-based projections, current challenges and opportunities and future investment trends offer readers the knowhow for navigating Africa’s energy sector in 2022.

“By drawing attention to the movers and shakers to watch in 2022, the report not only challenges these individuals to step up to the challenge and drive Africa into a new era of enhanced sector success but provides readers with a baseline as to who to watch in 2022 and beyond,” Ayuk says.

Valuable for investors

The report represents the only consolidated document to provide a detailed understanding of the future of Africa’s power sector.

Serving as a prelude to the continent’s premier energy event, African Energy Week (AEW) 2021, which will take place in Cape Town in November, the outlook is not only transformative for the continent’s growth but will be particularly valuable for investors looking to capitalise on Africa’s significant oil and gas opportunities.

AEW 2021, in partnership with South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), is the AEC’s annual conference, exhibition and networking event.

AEW 2021 unites African energy stakeholders with investors and international partners to drive industry growth and development and promote Africa as the destination for energy investment.

Check out the full list of movers and shakers below:

Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal

As the incoming chair of the African Union, President Macky Sall, who previously served as a managing director of Petrosen and minister of petroleum and energies, will be seen as a rational and conciliatory voice in the battle over fossil fuels between Africa and the developed world.

Domestically, and despite the global call for abandonment of fossil fuel, the push for first oil at the Woodside-operated Sangomar development with BP offshore Senegal continues to be on every industry player’s radar, especially given the proximity of the projects to developed Western markets.

How the president navigates issues of fossil fuel development in an energy transition context will be observed by the rest of the continent, particularly as project success opens up the MSGBC Basin to further investment.

Gwede Mantashe, minister of mineral resources and energy, South Africa

Mantashe has been laser-focused on creating the right legal framework for South Africa’s offshore gas resources to be monetised and developed in order to provide much-needed energy feedstock for power generation.

TotalEnergies discovered significant quantities of gas in February 2019, and in 2022 Mantashe is expected  to finalise a long-awaited new oil and gas law that will give clarity to investors, pushing it through parliament and getting it signed into law.

He is also expected to finalise the ongoing restructuring of state-owned enterprises in the oil and gas sector, making them more efficient and profitable entities going forward.

Mantashe is likely to strengthen his advocacy for positioning South Africa as a major gas player in 2022.

He is also a voice of reason on climate concerns around decarbonisation. In addition, Mantashe is in charge of developing South Africa’s capacity to increase value creation from battery minerals, which will only grow in importance as the demand for batteries increases globally.

Hu Xiaolian, chairman, Export-Import Bank of China

Chinese lending to Africa, including those directed towards Africa-related energy projects, continues to decline from its peak in 2013.

However, China’s Export-Import Bank (Eximbank) continues to be the single largest lender or underwriter of debt to Africa, in line with the Chinese government’s long-term initiatives.

Loans to African projects from China Eximbank continue to be attractively cost competitive. However, they are increasingly available only to commercially viable projects with Chinese involvement.

China Eximbank is also a major provider of credit lines to African infrastructure-focused lenders such as Afreximbank and the African Finance Corporation.

Backed by over US$800 billion in assets, Hu Xiaolian is expected to wield significant influence in Africa’s energy sector in 2022, deciding on the financing and refinancing of multibillion-dollar deals across the continent, from strategic mineral projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia to oil-backed loans in Angola and hydropower projects in Nigeria.

Patrick Pouyanné, chief executive officer, TotalEnergies

TotalEnergies’ likely resumption of its multibillion-dollar liquefied natural gas (LNG) project offshore Mozambique in Q1 2022 puts Pouyanné in charge of arguably the most important energy project on the continent this decade.

The TotalEnergies Mozambique LNG project is expected to attract $20 billion in investment, leading to multiple years of double-digit growth for Mozambique once completed.

TotalEnergies continues to hold the largest individual share of oil and gas resources in Africa. Following recent project success such as the completion of the Egina project in Nigeria, the energy major is flexing its muscles by lining up additional ventures for 2021 in Nigeria, Angola and Uganda.

Developing and operating these assets in 2022, in addition to other sizeable projects such as the development of OML99 Block in Nigeria – expected to produce 60,000bpd – and deploying $1.2 billion to develop Zinia 2 in Angola’s Block 17, will make Patrick Pouyanné yet again the most active chief executive of an iinternational oil company in Africa in 2022.

Tony Elumelu, chairman, Heirs Holdings

Elumelu’s company Heirs Holding is likely to consolidate its position as a rising star among African energy sector players, as the company puts into action plans to increase the output of its recently purchased OML17 asset – which currently produces 27,000bpd.

The market is watching Heirs Holding to see if it will be successful in operating such an asset. Upon success, it is very likely that this will not be the last deal Heirs Holdings acquires from divesting IOCs, emphasising the role of domestic companies in Africa’s hydrocarbon future.

Additionally, Elumelu’s control over the 2,000MW of installed power capacity in Nigeria – via recent acquisitions – also makes him a force to be reckoned with in the power industry, not only in Nigeria, but in the entire region, where the demand for power continues to grow.

André de Ruyter, chief executive officer, Eskom

André de Ruyter currently leads the largest utility company in both South Africa and the entire African continent. As one of the top ten global emitters of carbon, Eskom has set an ambitious target of ending coal-fired power generation by 2050 – even though 90% of the country’s power generation comes from coal.

In 2022 Eskom, led by de Ruyter, will go through an accelerated shift from coal to renewable energy resources, with the company currently in the market to secure $10 billion as part of a multibillion-dollar energy transition investment plan.

With South Africa’s power demand currently exceeding supply, the transition could unlock much-needed power generation capacity, strengthening energy security as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given the strategic importance of Eskom to South Africa and to the entire Southern African Power Pool, the energy sector will be watching de Ruyter’s stewardship of Eskom to assess the true viability of energy transition plans in Africa.

Mohammed Barkindo, secretary general, OPEC

Mohammed Barkindo might have left Africa for the world stage when he joined OPEC in 2016. However, he continues to be a flagbearer for the industry in Africa.

Under Barkindo, the exclusive OPEC club has opened its doors to African countries such as Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo, giving those nations access to the organisation’s clout and the technical knowhow that is key for running their oil sectors.

OPEC is scheduled to increase its activities on the continent in 2022 with an array of roadshows, technical workshops and meetings that will also include non-OPEC oil producers.

This will make Barkindo the go-to man in 2022 for most ministers and presidents on the continent as they seek enhanced public policy advice on the sector.

Bruno Jean-Richard Itoua, minister of hydrocarbons, Republic of the Congo

Congo will take over the rotating presidency of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 2022, giving Itoua a key role in co-ordinating the activities of the world’s major oil producers.

An astute politicia, with extensive experience in the energy sector both regionally and internationally, Itoua is likely to seek consensus that will keep production increases and restrictions co-ordinated in a manner that keeps markets, and ultimately prices, stable.

It is likely that he will seek to strengthen co-operation between African OPEC and non-OPEC producers in an effort to keep prices at upwards of $60 per barrel.

Internally, stakeholders expect Itoua to continue on a path of reform to increase investment into Congo’s oil and gas sector, particularly in the light of proposed divestments from international oil companies.

Claudio Descalzi, chief executive officer, Eni

Eni’s recent discovery offshore Côte d’Ivoire – estimated to be approximately two billion barrels of oil and 2.4 trillion cubic feet of gas – emphasises the company’s commitment to being one of the most active IOCs on the continent, despite an overall reduction in exploration activity across Africa.

Mergers and acquisitions activity and additional field developments in Angola and Nigeria are likely to increase its portfolio rather than reduce it, as is the case with other IOCs.

Eni has also announced that it is on track to start production and exportation of gas from its $7 billion Rovoma LNG project offshore Mozambique.

This will be the first step on the path to Mozambique becoming a major LNG exporter, further positioning the company as Africa’s top exploration and production player.

Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, minister of mines and hydrocarbons, Equatorial Guinea

Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima leads the oil and gas sector in one of Africa’s OPEC members. Credited with leading the industry in Africa on many fronts, he will be judged in 2022 on his ability to bring in policies that will allow Equatorial Guinea to attract new entrants into its prolific waters to work on new exploration and development projects.

A strong proponent of the monetisation of gas in Africa, it is expected that Minister Lima will expand the network of his LNG2Africa initiative in order to bring more countries and organisations on board, creating a natural gas market for Equatoguinean reserves.

Many eyes will be set on the minister to see how he will manage the exit of international oil companies from his country. His actions are likely to serve as a blueprint for many other regulators on the continent seeking to manage the exit of IOCs.

Fleetwood Grobler, chief executive officer, Sasol

South Africa’s government has turned to the Johannesburg-based petrochemical giant Sasol to lead its efforts towards a hydrogen economy in South Africa.

Backed by numerous memorandums of understanding with state-backed enterprises and local governments, all of which are professing their availability as offtakers of hydrogen within the power generation space, Sasol is expected to invest millions of US dollars in feasibility studies in 2022 to develop a business plan for hydrogen in Africa.

If successful, this will define the age of hydrogen-powered energy on the continent for decades to come.

Chief Timipre Sylva, minister of state for petroleum resources, Nigeria

Timipre Sylva is credited with achieving the passing of the long-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in Nigeria, which broadly improves the operating environment in the industry, unlocking billions of dollars for energy projects.

Sylva’s challenge now remains to guide the implementation of the PIB in 2022 in order to fast-track those projects that are already shovel ready.

Sylva is also expected to use his influence in 2022 to push for the creation of an African energy bank, one that will be able to provide the much-needed financing for energy projects both in Nigeria and across the continent.

Sebastião Gasper Martins, chief executive officer, Sonangol

Since his appointment in 2019 to lead Africa’s second largest crude producer and Angola’s national oil company, Gaspar Martins has been in charge of Sonangol’s restructuring.

This has consisted primarily of reducing the company’s exposure to non-core E&P functions in order to focus on exploration and production.

In 2022, Gaspar Martins will be leading Sonangol to the market to refinance significant amounts of debt and raise fresh funds for new E&P projects, as the company seeks to address production declines below current levels of 1.1 million barrels of oil per day.

Matthew Opoku Prempeh

Dr Opoku Prempeh oversees an industry which, despite its shortcomings, is considered to be one of the most advanced on the continent, driven by a clear framework that allows for investors and service companies to operate seamlessly and without impairing the benefits that accrue to Ghanaians.

Compared to its peers, most of whom are producers with a longer history in the industry, Ghana has been able to promote strong, progressive local content regulations.

Dr Opoku Prempeh is expected to continue in the same vein in 2022, promoting initiatives such as gas to power and advocating stronger participation of women in the industry.

He is also expected to be a strong voice on eradicating energy poverty by 2030 in Africa as he champions the electrification of Ghana through a multitude of initiatives spearheaded by his ministry.

Rolake Akinkugbe-Filani

An astute energy banker and currently the chief commercial officer at Mixta Africa – one of Africa’s leading infrastructure developers – Akinkugbe-Filani is both an authority and a sought-after counsellor on the energy transition in Africa.

As a trusted advisor to development finance institutions – which play an important role in financing green energy projects in Africa – Akinkugbe-Filani has a voice of influence will be exceptionally prominent in Africa’s energy industry in 2022.

She also sits on the board of several funds, including the Africa-focused climate and renewable energy fund Persistent, which runs a $120 million Energy Fund.

Mustafa Sanalla, chairman, Libya National Oil Corporation

Libya’s all-important oil sector has struggled to maintain previous levels of production and attract the investment that a 1.3 million bpd economy would usually command. Current levels stand at under 800,000 barrels per day.

However, plans by Mustafa Sanalla, the chairman of Libya’s National Oil Company, to ramp up production in the near term to over one million barrels per day in 2022 make him one of the most important figures in the industry in the coming year and beyond.

He is seen as a steady hand even in times of turmoil and so it is unlikely that Sanalla will leave his position, no matter who wins the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for December 2022.

Proscovia Nabbanja, chief executive officer, Uganda National Oil Company

As chief executive of Uganda’s National Oil Company (UNOC), Nabbanja oversees the company, which is involved in and has the power to influence every step of the development of Uganda’s nascent oil and gas sector.

From the Tilenga and Kingfisher South projects, which together are expected at peak to produce 210,000 barrels per day, to the building of the EACOP pipeline and a planned 60,000 barrel per day refinery, UNOC is set to be at the heart of major investments in East Africa.

Nabbanja will be tested on her ability to represent the state in the joint venture with IOCs to ensure that developments are fast-tracked, while safeguarding the interests of the Ugandan state.

Overall, the investments needed to develop the Ugandan projects are expected to exceed $10 billion over the next decade.

Vivienne Yeda, chairman/director general, Kenya Power/East African Development Bank

As head of the East African Development Bank’s management team and chairman of Kenya’s electricity distributor, Yeda is at the centre of the restructuring of Kenya’s power sector.

She was nominated to the Kenya Power chairmanship in November 2020, with a brief to steer the restructuring of the troubled state enterprise.

Her extensive experience at the regional development financing institution also gives her a prime seat at the table when decisions are being made regarding financing energy deals in the region.

Major General Innocent Kabandana, commander of Rwandan troops in Mozambique, Rwanda

Can the joint task force commander of Rwandan troops in Mozambique’s northernmost province of Cabo Delgado quickly stabilise the area and pave the way for TotalEnergies to deliver on Mozambique LNG? That is the question on the mind of Mozambicans and Africa at large.

The gas projects off the coast of Cabo Delgado are of critical importance, not only to Mozambique, but to the entire region.

It is very likely that General Kabandana and his men, as well as other forces from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) which are in the country will provide the necessary security for TotalEnergies and other contractors working on gas projects in 2022.

Maixent Raoul Ominga, chief executive officer, SNPC

Ominga is leads the Republic of Congo’s national oil company, SNPC. In this position, he is expected to play a major role in the reallocation of assets in the country dropped by IOCs as they rebalance their portfolios.

It is likely that some of these assets will be passed on to SNPC to operate, hence raising its profile as an operator.

This will also give Ominga significant leverage to transform the industry in Congo by using his increasing influence to expand Congolese capacity and government offtake from production.

Toufik Hakkar, chief executive officer, Sonatrach

As the head of Algeria’s national oil company – which is also one of the world’s largest gas producers – Hakkar, a Sonatrach veteran before his appointment in February 2020, will play a significant part in sanctioning new gas projects in Algeria in 2022.

This will be particularly important considering the recent increase in demand for gas globally and the resulting price increases.

Given the position Sonatrach takes in the market, Hakkar will be in charge of sanctioning services contracts in the industry in 2022 worth more than $10 billion, giving him a critical role in the industry in Africa in 2022.

Kofi Koduah Sarpong, chief executive officer, GNPC

An agreement by Ghana National Petroleum Corporation and Kosmos Energy to buy out Occidental Energy’s share of the Jubilee and TEN fields in Ghana strengthens GNPC’s position in the sector and shows that the NOC is willing to put skin in the game and build capacity to take on projects of its own in the near future.

It also shows that GNPC, under Dr Sarpong, is a dealmaker and capable of making the tough calls needed to build GNPC’s productive asset base.

As oil prices stay relatively high, it is likely that we will see GNPC embark on many projects in 2022 that will also help increase overall Ghanaian capacity in the sector.

Olakunle Olalekan Williams, chief executive officer, QSL Gas & Power Ltd

Africa as a whole is betting big on gas to power to drive socio-economic growth and energy security.

QSL Gas and Power Ltd and its chief executive have positioned themselves as facilitators of this growth by establishing themselves in a relatively short time as registered and reliable suppliers of gas to industrial complexes and power stations.

Olalekan Williams has led the company to develop a combined supply and trading capacity of over 120mcf of gas daily.

The company plans to increase this figure significantly by developing the infrastructure needed to get off-grid energy users connected to its supplies.

This will not only give QSL-GP a strong market position in 2022, but also enable the company to raise at least part of the funds for a continent-wide expansion.

Scot Evans, chief executive officer, ReconAfrica

With Evans as the head of the Africa-focused oil and gas explorer in the Kavango Basin offshore Namibia, an area that has demonstrated much potential that is yet to be confirmed, questions are being asked if he and his team can meet expectations.

So far, initial evaluations from early exploration work has been positive. However, can he maintain a thick skin amidst a radical onslaught by activists in his quest to deliver on an oil promise to Namibia?

ReconAfrica, a Canada-based independent, has emerged as a major exploration player, particularly in frontier markets such as Namibia and Botswana.

Just this year, the company’s exploratory drilling in the Kavango revealed a working petroleum system, positioning both the country as an attractive hydrocarbons market and ReconAfrica as a key player. Next year will be a time of reckoning for the company as it moves to realise its ambitions.

Ann Norman, president, Saqara Energy

Norman’s primary goal as president of Saqara Energy is to assist oil and gas companies to eliminate and monetise their associated gas flares through the advent and introduction of midstream on demand to African markets. The lack of appropriate options for the offtake of products led her to found a midstream market for Africa.

Norman has significant experience in directing investments into sub-Saharan African economies across various sectors, not only oil and gas (midstream and upstream) but also agriculture, infrastructure, banking, hotels, the airline industry and renewable energy.

With the increase of gas-to-power infrastructure in Nigeria and across the continent, she is poised to play a key role in 2022 helping many small and mid-sized producers in Nigeria and beyond to monetise their gas.

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