Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) has commended energy conglomerate, Sahara Group for being “a great ambassador for the Nigerian entrepreneurial brand.”
Speaking at a virtual event to commemorate Sahara Group’s 25th anniversary, Prof. Osinbajo said Sahara embodies the enterprising and transformative spirit that makes Nigeria a remarkable nation. “Sahara Group has demonstrated bold, innovative, knowledge-driven business models that are designed to seize opportunities in other countries and have done so with remarkable success in many African countries.” he said.
Established as an oil trading entity in 1996, Sahara Group now has operations in over 42 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, with almost 5000 employees. Sahara operates the largest privately run power business in sub-Saharan Africa through its investment in generation and distribution assets in the power sector.
Executive Director, Sahara Group, Kola Adesina, said the energy conglomerate remained proud of its rich Nigerian and African heritage which has given Sahara the impetus to innovate through challenges to become a global player. “Sahara Group is already looking ahead to a future that will be driven by technology, Artificial Intelligence and renewable energy solutions to enhance access to energy and environmental sustainability,” he added.
Vice President Osinbajo said the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, as well as Nigeria’s gas initiatives, will help transform Nigeria into a gas-based industrialized nation and also create a better-managed petroleum industry with more value addition for both investors and Nigerians alike.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Petroleum Industry Bill 2021 into law last week, and has also approved a steering committee to oversee the process of implementation of the newly signed Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).
Also, the gas initiatives of the Federal Government include the drive to encourage investments in gas production and optimize the nation’s enormous gas potential.
In addition, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is being developed into an alternative automobile fuel as a means of affording Nigerians cheaper, cleaner and additional fuel. This way, there will be a reduction in the ecological and economic costs of energy.
There is also the Gas Masterplan which provides for investment in the necessary infrastructure for gas transportation across the nation. All of these will reduce local crude oil dependency, whilst strengthening the drive for cleaner sources of energy as a nation.
Speaking on the gas initiatives being implemented by the Buhari administration, the Vice President said, “locally we launch into the brave new world for the oil and gas industry with the Petroleum Industry Act 2021. And this happily converges with the launch of the Year 2020 to 2030 as the ‘Decade of Gas Development for Nigeria’. This is a follow-up to the highly successful initiative of the Year 2020 as the Year of Gas.”
Last year November, the National Gas Expansion Programme was launched, which focuses on the distribution of Compressed Natural Gas and Liquefied Petroleum Gas across gas stations operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Prof. Osinbajo added, “the main goal of the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill and the gas initiatives aforementioned is to transform Nigeria not only into a gas-based industrialized nation through enhanced accelerated gas revolution, but also to help create a better-managed petroleum industry where both the people of Nigeria and investors alike can extract value.
According to the Vice President, the next 25 years will be defining for the energy industry.
The Vice President, again reiterated the need for a just transition to zero-emission, as well as more advocacy to stop the defunding of gas and fossil fuel projects in developing countries
Explaining further, he said, “already the wealthier nations and their institutions have banned all public investments in certain fossil projects, including natural gas. Examples include the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom, Germany and Denmark, as well as specific institutions such as the Swedfund from Sweden, Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, the largest in the world, CDC, the development finance institution from the UK, the European Investment Bank, and the Investment Fund for Developing Countries from Denmark.
“The World Bank and other multilateral development banks are being urged by their shareholders to do the same. The AfDB is increasingly unable to support large natural gas projects in the face of shareholder pressure from their European members. Barely two weeks ago, the UN Secretary-General made a strong call, that ‘Countries should end all new fossil fuel exploration and production, and shift fossil fuel subsidies into renewable energy.'”
The VP disclosed that while the Federal Government is building coalitions with other affected countries to urge a just transition as we advance to zero transmission, “I will urge indigenous energy companies such as yourselves to join in the urgent advocacy that is required to prevent the disaster that would result from defunding oil and gas projects.”
Prof. Osinbajo noted that the last two decades have brought significant growth of Nigerian oil companies “from the days when Nigerian companies were mainly invested in the downstream sector to a situation now where we have Nigerian companies in the downstream, midstream and the upstream.”
“Nigerian companies have shown capacity in operations and financing of oil and gas assets. Within this group of patriotic local investors, Sahara has consistently blazed the trail as industry leaders in not just the Petroleum sector, but in the Power sector as well,” he added.
While congratulating the Sahara Team for its 25 years of achievements in the energy industry, the VP wished them more remarkable 25 years ahead, even as he urged the group and other indigenous energy companies to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Agreements.
Other speakers at the event included the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr. Felix Tshisekedi and President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina; while guests included the Director-General of Bureau of Public Enterprises, Mr Alex Okoh, and other top government officials.