Opening Remarks by OPEC Secretary General

Delivered by HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General, at an African Ministerial Roundtable co-hosted by Senegal’s Ministry of Petroleum and the International Energy Agency, 30 June 2020, via videoconference.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon.

It is my great pleasure to take part in this virtual Africa Ministerial Roundtable, which is being jointly hosted by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Senegalese Ministry of Petroleum and Energy.  

Allow me to express my special thanks to HE Mr. Mohamadou Makhtar Cissé, Minister of Petroleum and Energy of Senegal and Dr. Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Director for the invitation to participate in this important event.

I would also like to recognize HE Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations and HE Samson Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy of South Africa. They are to be commended for the important work they continue to carry out in their respective roles for Africa and for Africans.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The world continues to battle the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, which  has now surpassed  10 million cases worldwide and has taken more than a half-million lives to date. Africa currently has nearly 300,000 cases and has suffered almost 6,000 casualties.

In addition to the grave health crisis, the after-effects of the pandemic have been vast and far-reaching, resulting in one of the worst global recessions in decades.

Africa has been severely impacted, particularly in its financial, energy and public health sectors.

According to the OPEC Secretariat’s latest forecast, the continent’s GDP is expected to contract by 2.5% in 2020, and major institutions have warned that more than 20 million jobs could be in jeopardy across the continent. In its revised GDP forecasts published last week (24 June), the International Monetary Fund forecasts a deeper global recession (-4.9%), with Sub-Saharan Africa contracting by an estimated -3.2%  in 2020.

This situation is even more acute when you consider that oil and other hydrocarbons make up more than 20% of the GDP of the top 10 African economies.

These adverse conditions have led to a loss of operating revenue, dwindling investment capital and a slowing of economic diversification efforts.

Excellencies, the African continent is blessed with a wide array of natural resources, particularly oil and natural gas, which make up around 7 to 8% of the world’s proven reserves, however, the fallout from this pandemic has kept Africa’s petroleum industry from reaching its full potential. Refinery capacity on the continent, for example, remains far below oil demand, and the utilization rate of the existing capacity, at around 60%, can cover only half of the daily consumption.

Energy poverty is another issue that remains at the top of the global agenda, particularly on the African continent, and further progress is now being put at risk due to the impacts of COVID-19. This is exacerbated by the intertwined challenges of energy poverty and climate change. In Africa, although it contributes less than 2% of CO2 emissions, climate change poses a real challenge and further complicates food security and energy poverty in the absence of adaptation and appropriate mitigation measures. Extreme climate patterns are projected to have devastating impacts on the African economies, potentially affecting the GDP of the entire continent through reduced agricultural yields, lowered productivity and human health impacts, not to mention intra-regional migration.

Millions of people on the continent still lack access to electricity, and progress on access to clean cooking fuels and technologies is too slow. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 47% of the population have no electricity. The number of people without access to clean fuels and cooking technology has even increased, owing to rapid population growth. As a result, about 85% of the population in this region lacked access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking as of 2019.

Going forward, the keys to enhancing much need investment in Africa’s energy sector will require a combination of a sustainably stable oil market, good governance, transparency and broad stakeholder support.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Looking ahead, there is light on the horizon as some of the world’s largest economies have begun phasing out their national lockdowns, which has ushered in a much welcomed surge in oil demand.

There is also positive momentum on the supply-side with the historic OPEC-Non-OPEC Ministerial decisions in April and June providing much need support to the market balancing process.

We are moving in the right direction, but we must remain vigilant in order to address a forecasted contraction in global oil demand of around 9 million barrels per day for 2020. We are not out of the woods yet.

This is a massive undertaking, and we need ALL industry stakeholders to contribute. In this context, I would like to call on all African producers to join our global efforts through the Declaration and Charter of Cooperation to achieve a sustainable oil market stability and prosperity for all. In this context, I could envisage another roundtable together with the IEA, OPEC, and APPO to convene African producing countries to address the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath.

In closing, I would like to leave you with the eloquent words of the great leader and poet from Senegal, Leopold Sedar Senghor.

“The civilization of the twentieth century cannot be universal except by being a dynamic synthesis of all the cultural values of all civilizations. It will be monstrous unless it is seasoned with the salt of negritude, for it will be without the savor of humanity.”

In the spirit of our ongoing efforts to promote global energy cooperation, let us always seek to live out Senghor’s noble vision of honouring the cultural values of all civilizations.

Thank you.

HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General

HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General

The online roundtable was co-hosted by Senegal’s Ministry of Petroleum and the IEA

The online roundtable was co-hosted by Senegal’s Ministry of Petroleum and the IEA