Africa Energy Series: Senegal

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Guests on the webinar, which took place on February 4, included Victoria Billing, the UK’s Ambassador to Senegal and Dr Aissatou Sophie Gladima, Senegal’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy.

Senegal’s energy sector has been attracting increased interest from international oil and gas companies following a series of offshore gas field discoveries since 2014. 

The UK has been one of the largest investors in the country since then, not just in the oil and gas sector but also in renewables and off-grid solutions. 

Here are the key takeaways from the virtual event…

Knowledge sharing

Senegal has set a target to provide electricity for 100% of the country by 2025 through the development of its renewable energy industry, as well as its gas-to-power capacity and other new sources of power, Gladima says. In part the objective is about industrialising more of the Senegalese economy, but it is also about providing power to rural areas using off-grid technology such as mini solar power units. Gladima says the country is looking to forge partnerships with Scottish companies in the energy sector to improve local knowledge and share experiences in order to help Senegal build a strong and sustainable economy.

Scottish supply chain

Scotland’s North Sea oil and gas industry has given the country vast experience in areas such as oil and gas skills and technical training, as well as developing expertise in subsea work, deep water drilling and digital specialist equipment—all areas that are critical for the development of Senegal’s energy industry, says David Rennie, global head of energy at Scottish Development International. 

“The Scottish supply chain has a lot of know-how and experience in this. We have developed skills, technology and people in some of the most challenging deep water areas in the world—if we can do it in the North Sea, we can do it anywhere,” he says.

Local talent

INDP—the National Institute of Petroleum and Gas—was set up in 2017 as a training provider for the oil and gas industry. It is seeking to build a state of the art training and development facility, as well as provide support to the private sector and build capacity within government agencies and ministries, says Aguibou Ba, executive director at INDP. “We want to support the entire value chain, not just the technical side: that will help the development of the industry,” he says. 

Some international companies are also focused on developing local expertise. Lekela Power, which built West Africa’s first wind farm in Senegal, says its focus on training local talent meant it was able to continue with projects during the coronavirus pandemic while other companies that relied on international workers had to shut down.

Energy transition 

Senegal has huge potential for renewable energy, receiving more than 3,000 hours of sunshine every year, says Aziz Fall, special advisor to the Chief Executive of Senelec, the country’s national electricity company. The snag: Senegal’s peak electricity hours are in the evening. That means the country needs to invest in storage capabilities so that it can make use of its renewable energy resources without undermining the stability of the grid, Fall says. Senelec is also focusing on developing gas-to-power, which means converting some of its dual fuel power plants to gas. “That is the only way we can ensure universal access to electricity and the development of our country,” he says. 

Frazer Lang, founder of SABA, said it was refreshing to have a consistent message – that Senegal was open to partnerships, open to knowledge sharing and serious about the development of its energy sector for all of Senegal – running through all the government and private sector presentations.

“I sincerely believe there are huge opportunities across the sector, particularly in skills training, renewables and supply chain, and SABA will work to realise these with both our members and our partners in Senegal.”

The next meeting in the Scotland – Africa Energy Series will be with the Cote d’Ivoire where SABA will looking across the energy sector, including production and transmission as well as hearing from some of the large operators on opportunities in the supply chain.

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