Good leadership key to solving Africa’s energy needs – Kevin Okyere

The Chief Executive Officer of the Springfield Group, Mr. Kevin Okyere, has emphasised the need for good political leadership in the energy sector of Ghana and Africa as the foundation for getting other elements in the industry right, and to meet challenges confronting the continent in finding solutions to energy needs.

He said: “If we can get good leadership at the governmental level and support for African entrepreneurs, we can collectively address any challenge in the industry”.

Mr. Okyere said this at the  last week, in a panel discussion on the topic ‘Lighting Up Africa: The Broken Energy Chain’.  The discussion focused mainly on opportunities and challenges within the Energy sector on the continent.

Explaining his position on the need for support of the private sector to ensure quick gains in meeting the energy needs in Africa, Mr. Okyere cited the example of a World Bank guarantee of US$700million for ENI’s Sankofa Gas Project, and said it was an innovative financing model worth replicating across the continent to achieve the goal of meeting energy needs without reinventing the wheel.

“We are blessed with gas, but we have a complicated situation in Ghana and across Africa. There is a fundamental problem of government tariffs, political leadership and credit risk,” he emphasised. He explained further that the continent cannot be developed with small plants for small industries.

He hinted that based on findings and analysis of its Block, Springfield could produce – at best case – 6,000 megawatts a day, but could actually do more with support from leadership, “We need government support to have power for the individual nations and the continent”.

Mr. Okyere also touched on the efficiency and work ethic topic by pointing to the people-element as a significant part of the equation. He said that some people do not offer their best when they work in the public sector and for government. “The default attitude of such people is that once an issue or asset does not belong to their individual families, they can approach it with indifference and a lack of commitment to successful resolution or protection.

“For example the grid companies. Take these and give them to private companies and come back five years later. You will see efficiency and reliability,” he noted.

The Springfield CEO also called for a return to basics in order to establish the right environment for growth in the energy sector; saying although it is good to look into futuristic solutions, it is important as well to focus on getting the fundamentals right while incorporating future technologies.

Also on the panel were Nana Mensa Ayensu of General Electric (GE); Dimitri Papefstratiou of DLA Piper; Sumeet Singh of Powergas Africa Ltd.; and Tomiwa Igun of the Boston Consulting Group as the Moderator.

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