INTERNATIONAL - The fourth annual Africa Oil & Power (AOP) conference kicked off in Cape Town, South Africa on Wednesday with the aim of promoting the energy sector to ensure greater economic growth on the continent.
The three-day conference brings together Africa's oil, gas and power leaders to facilitate key conversations on the substantial role the energy sector has in empowering other sectors and building thriving and competitive economies.
In his keynote address, Gabriel Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea, stressed the role the oil and gas sector plays in Africa's development, and championed the energy sector as critical in Africa's growth.
Mouhamadou Makhtar Cisse, Minister of Petroleum and Energy of Senegal, spoke of the West African nation's hydrocarbon potential and outlined his government's plans in leveraging this potential to see through greater economic growth.
Guillaume Doane, CEO of AOP, described the energy industry as "the economic engine of the African continent." African governments should also be prepared to do what it takes to create a better environment for investors to come in, he said. "The time is now for Africa to be the leading destination for global energy investment. We must and we can do more," Doane said.
NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, encouraged delegates to engage in the dynamic presentations and gain first-hand knowledge of a wealth of investment opportunities in countries like Senegal, Equatorial Guinea, South Sudan and South Africa.
"We need to see African nations engage each other more, as the intra-African energy dialogue has remained too low given the natural resources potential of our continent," he said. Africa continues to be amongst the top regions for making large oil and gas discoveries.
In 2016, five of the 10 largest oil discoveries were in Africa, according to information released at the conference.