The Vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, says that the COVID-19 pandemic has created opportunities for stakeholders in all sectors of the economy to embrace innovation and creativity.
Osinbajo made this known at the 14th Annual Conference of the Nigerian Association of Energy Economics, in Abuja, on Monday.
The theme of the conference is “Strategic Responses of Energy Sector to COVID-19 impacts on African Economies”.
Represented by the Special Adviser on Infrastructure, Mr Ahmad Zakari, Osinbajo said the oil and gas sector most hit by the pandemic would be better off with all stakeholders coming together to strategise on new ways to move the sector.
He said the theme of the conference was apt as African battling with high poverty levels needed energy for economic growth and development.
“The energy sector as one of the most critical sectors of all economies was impacted adversely by the pandemic due to lockdowns and restrictions in movement of people and halt of operations of many energy organisations.
“This brought huge losses for both public and private organisations, we also know that COVID-19 caused global damage in the global economies but it provided a unique opportunity for thinking out of the box for solving most of the problems in the world.
“Looking at the level of academics among you, I have no doubt that you will bring out ways the energy sector will use to come out of various challenges that the pandemic has presented in the sector,” he said.
Osinbajo said the Nigeria oil and gas sector had been coming up with projects that had the potential of evolving the sector.
According to him, the Final Investment Decision on NLNG Train 7, the Ajaokuta Kaduna Kano (AKK) Gas Pipeline projects, and others are good moves for the economy.
He called on all participants to use the conference to proffer a way forward for the growth of the nation’s oil and gas sector.
In his remarks, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, said Africa and Nigeria were most affected by the pandemic.
Sylva said that many nations in Africa had no access to energy which affected the economic growth and development of the continent.
“The most current report says that about 50 per cent of the continent population have no access to energy that is about 600 million people have no access to electricity.
“It has also been widely reported that it has been worsening by the COVID-19 pandemic as the past one and half years has adversely affected energy development in the global world notwithstanding low carbon emission recorded,” he said
According to him, the theme of the conference is strategic as there is a need for a strategic response for the energy sector to revive with the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in various economies.
Represented by his Chief of Staff, Mr Moses Olamide, he welcomed all participants and urged them to make contributions that would help to drive the growth of the sector.
“Looking at the crop of speakers here today, I am convinced that various ideas that will help to grow the sector will be adequately shared.
“On this note, I urged all the stakeholders and speakers present at this conference, to feel free to discuss issues in detail and come out with strategic ideas that will assist in our quest to grow the energy sector,’’ he said
Also, the President of, International Association of Energy Economics (IAEE), Mr James Smith, commended the steadfast progress that the NAEE had made in recent years.
“Given Nigeria’s key role in the world oil market, we are especially grateful to have an active and effective affiliate of IAEE to provide leadership in these changing and challenging times,” Smith said.
He noted that the pandemic had made it more difficult for most people to do their jobs and made jobs any less important.
According to him, it has also generated many new questions regarding the impact of the COVID-19 on the energy economy.
“What will be the final effect on the demand and supply of the myriad energy resources at our disposal?
“Has the public reaction to the pandemic changed society’s perception of what is an appropriate degree of government intervention in our daily lives—including how various forms of energy are to be priced or utilised?
“How, if at all, has the pandemic changed the probable pace and shape of the highly anticipated and much-heralded energy transition? And what do those changes portend for the role of petroleum in the global energy economy as we move forward?” he said.
He noted that because many of the underlying assumptions that ground these issues had abruptly changed, it may behoove all to revisit even some of those questions and topics that were previously thought to have been fully addressed.
Represented by Prof. Wumi Iledare, former President of NAEE, he said, agenda for energy researchers had never been so full and rich, and the role of an organisation like NAEE had never been more important.