Chief Executive Officer of Blue Power Energy Ltd, Salma Okonkwo, has called on leaders on the continent to formulate policies that will facilitate the development of the local industries, as she says, this will boost local economies, present an opportunity to strengthen regional energy systems and create higher-paying productive jobs.
Speaking after she was adjudged the Millennium Excellence Foundation President’s Personality of the Decade at this year’s Millennium Excellence Award, held under the tutelage of the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the CEO said the current pandemic has made it more imperative for leaders to do whatever they can to sustain the manufacturing sector, as data from World Bank indicates about 20 million Africans are likely to lose their jobs due to the pandemic.
Mrs. Okonkwo, however, noted that one main challenge hampering the prospect of the manufacturing sector on the continent is the high cost of power.
“The high cost of electricity across the continent is holding back Africa’s manufacturing growth. By some estimates, African businesses pay 25 to 100 per cent more for electricity from the grid than similar companies in other regions.
This is because businesses must often rely on expensive backup generators as primary energy sources in the face of frequent power outages. One study found that 25 per cent of businesses in Ghana, Nigeria and Angola suffered double-digit losses in sales due to power outages, with some firms losing 31 per cent,” she said.
To address this, Mrs. Okonkwo said there was the need for governments and private investors to come up with an energy mix that will reliably deliver cheap power to businesses across African countries.
“In West Africa, energy portfolios of hydropower, solar and wind have the potential to be significantly cheaper than natural gas by 2030. Off-grid solar projects may also provide manufacturers with an alternative to national power grids,” she said.
Mrs. Okonkwo earned the award for her contribution to the oil industry in the country and beyond, and her passion to create jobs to help bring people, especially, women out of poverty.
She is a senior business executive with over 20 years experience in the African energy sector and with extensive working knowledge of the oil and gas sector in the West African sub-region. Her Blue Power Energy (BPE) Limited company is an alternative energy conglomerate financing a US$200 million solar farm in northern Ghana.
BPE is focused on creating a sustainable energy future for Ghana and Sub-Saharan Africa that will drive economic growth.
She is also the co-founder and board member of Blue Star Exploration and sits on the Board of Directors of Makmera Upstream, an upstream exploration company and Nahid’s Properties, a real estate development company.
The CEO has a high interest in seeing Africa’s manufacturing sector boom, as she believes that is the most effective way of creating jobs on the continent. As a leader in energy development, Mrs Okonkwo has won numerous awards including Ghana Women of Excellence of the Year 2020 award and the Female Energy Personality of the Year 2020.