5-9 November, 2018

The Leading Business Intelligence and Transaction Platform for Africa's Oil and Gas Sector

Cape Town International Convention Centre
South Africa


20 September 2017

Daniel Silke: 'The prospects for Africa rests on large-scale clean energy rollout'

Daniel Silke is one of Africa's top analysts and futurists - so he's the perfect choice to ahere his predictions for the coming year with Africa Oil Week's delegates. Ahead of his keynote address at this year's conference, we asked Daniel about the past, present and future of Africa's energy market, and its effects on the continent's development and prosperity.

Can you give a quick overview of what Africa Oil Week delegates can expect from your keynote address?
I will be analysing a combination of the latest economic data from key Sub-Saharan African economies and looking at issues of economic and political stability into the future. In addition, I will also be looking some of the core social drivers and trend dynamics across the continent from demographic change to urban and security pressures. Finally, I will address some core trends from a move to low carbon and the ‘end’ of coal to the need to decentralise grids to create greater efficiencies especially integrated with renewables.
Where have the positives been for energy in Africa this year? Where are the bright spots?
There is no doubt that the decreasing reliance on coal has meant a move towards renewables and a greater acceptability of wind and solar. With prices dropping in these sectors and the ability to integrate more into relevant grids, this promises to be an important element in rolling out clean and affordable power to the half-a-billion or more Africans that still languish without regular supply. There is also a growing global understanding of the role that demographics and economic growth play in the need for the continent to ANC their energy capacity. This has brought substantial energy-related investment to the continent as the nascent growth spurs on investment into this sector. This can only benefit the hitherto unreliable and costly energy infrastructure that looks set to finally leapfrog into the 21st century. Finally, new technologies and a more holistic vision of promoting economic growth through digitisation will further make this an exciting sector for the continent.
How would you assess the political environment for the Africa oil and gas and energy industry at the present time?
Politically, a shift to democratic accountability has been positive over broad swathes of the continent. However, with the recent economic slump as a result of weak commodity prices and the heavy indebtedness of many African countries, the political environment has become more charged. Cash-strapped economies will need to be careful of introducing burdensome regulations with a view to shoring up government coffers and in so doing, diminishing investor confidence. Political stability has improved, but any shift towards from ‘resource nationalism’ or populism, can undermine the faith that big global players might have in the continent – at least in the short term.
What challenges are on the horizon?
From an energy perspective, the limited grid flexibilities remain a constraint. Rapid changes in weather continues to offer unreliability across the continent. The usage of electricity and erratic supply due to peak usage demands habit-changing programs as well as costly investments into smart grids. As urbanisation becomes entrenched, the pressures will need hi-tech solutions in this regard. Finally, a better integration of private sector co-operation to enhance distributed energy systems will be vital in assisting the expansion of any grid. 
What are you most excited about for the continent over the next year?
The continent has come a long way in the last decade. Now, technology and a much greater governmental commitment to its use will propel Africa forward. With costs being driven down, and a global community increasingly open to assisting the continent (and their bottom line) with investment, we might be entering a golden era for energy enhancement. 
Why is Africa Oil Week important?
It’s a unique opportunity to get all the major players together under one roof! Clearly, industry experts will provide the latest trends. Networking opportunities will be plentiful. But ultimately, this is an industry that is the cornerstone of the African future. The prospects for the continent now rests on the fundamentals of large-scale clean and affordable energy roll-outs. It’s not a ‘maybe’, it has to happen. That’s why this event is critical. The business will be done – but it’s Africa’s now and future generations that will be the benefactors of plans, projects and policies made now.

Daniel Silke will give a keynote address on Wednesday 25th October at Africa Oil Week 2017, entitled 'The State of Africa 2017/2017: Resilience or Resistance?' To make sure you're there to hear it, book your delegate place at Africa Oil Week by clicking here.