Empowering the next generation of global energy leaders


…the SPE Africa way

The energy landscape is undergoing a remarkable transformation, and the role of Africa in the global energy transition is becoming increasingly significant.

Recognising the importance of empowering the next generation of energy leaders, the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) organised the inaugural Africa Annual Students’ Congress 2023 under the auspices of African Regional Director, Oghogho Effiom.

The congress took place in Accra under the theme ‘The role of Africa in Global Energy Transition: The Student’s Perspective’. It brought together students from various African countries to discuss, learn and network.

Participating countries included Congo; Chad; Ghana; Kenya; Namibia, Nigeria; Tanzania; Uganda and Mozambique, reflecting the diverse representation and commitment to the energy sector across the continent.

Ghana had the honour of hosting the maiden congress, which was broadcasted virtually – allowing for global participation and engagement.

The congress spanned three days, each packed with informative and engaging activities.

The first day of the congress began with opening remarks by Dr. Ben Asante, Board Chair of SPE Ghana Section, and Dr. Riverson Oppong, Chairperson of SPE Ghana Section. Their insightful words set the tone for the congress, emphasising the significance of the students’ perspectives in shaping the future of Africa’s energy industry.

Mrs. Effiom, Director of SPE Africa Region, delivered the keynote speech, offering valuable insights into the role of Africa in the global energy transition. She inspired the students to embrace opportunities and challenges that lie ahead, and encouraged them to be catalysts for change.

A panel discussion on ‘The role of Africa in Global Energy Transition: The Students’ Perspective’ provided a platform for the students to share their ideas and insights, fostering a collaborative environment.

The discussion, moderated by Ama Sarpong – deputy SPE D&I Chair, saw the participation of Victor Sunu-Attah of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation;  Kwaku Boateng of Petroleum Commission;  Ben Boakye of Africa Centre for Energy Policy; Theophilus Ahwireng, MODEC; Dr. Ishmael Ackah, Public Utilities Regulatory Commission; and David Ampofo of Ghana Upstream Petroleum Chamber.

The day also featured presentations on the art of delivering outstanding presentations by Ola Davi, and the power of self-esteem by Temitope Oshuntuyi – equipping the students with valuable skills for their future endeavours.

The day’s events were climaxed with the students’ paper contest among undergraduate students from the various participating countries. After the contest, Maame Aba Kwagyiri from the University of Mines and Technology-Ghana emerged winner.

The second day commenced with a keynote presentation by Cynthia Lumor, deputy Managing Director of Tullow Ghana Limited, who shared her experiences and insights on building and sustaining a career as a woman in a male-dominated industry.

This session highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusion in the energy sector. She encouraged female students to pursue their ambitions fearlessly.

A panel discussion moderated by Rubabat Oseni-GNGC, on ‘Building and Sustaining a Career as a Woman in a Male Dominated Industry’, further explored the challenges and opportunities for women in the energy sector.

Dignitaries on the panel included Josh Okpalanne, Vitol; Sheena Owusu-Ansah, SPE Ghana D&I Chair; Mrs. Effiom, Shell; Nidra Araba Yebua, SLB; Ida Yeboah; and Emmanuel Ametsi.

The second day also witnessed graduate students engaging in paper contests, providing a platform for advanced research and academic excellence. Of the four students, Alexander Ofori Mensah from the University of Mines and Technology-Ghana came top, giving UMaT two wins at SPC.

The Petrobowl Competition, also organised on day-two, crowned Mbarara University of Science and Technology-Uganda, and University of Mines and Technology-Ghana as winners, earning them an opportunity to join the three victorious Nigerian schools in representing Africa at the international level.

The final day of the congress featured a keynote presentation by Samuel Nii Adjei, Human Resource Manager at Ghana National Gas Company (GNGC), who enlightened the audience on the topic of ‘Standing out among your peers’. The session emphasised the importance of professional development and unique value propositions in a competitive industry.

A panel discussion on ‘Standing out among your peers’ further delved into strategies and insights to distinguish oneself in the energy sector. The distinguished panellists were Dr. Victor Ekpenyong, Kenyon International; Benjamin Buabeng, GNGC; Anita Bonney, Deep Ocean; Lesley Arthur Asiedu, CUBICA Energy; Eve Kilonzi, Kenya; and Joseph Willie Amoah, PHDC. The discussion was facilitated by Derrick Klutse of Tullow Ghana.

The congress also featured a career fair, enabling the students to interact with prominent petroleum companies and explore potential career opportunities. There was also an Energy4me initiative spearheaded by Lou Jean Rodriguez from Dubai, which provided valuable experimental resources and workshops, empowering high school students with knowledge about energy.

The congress did not overlook the significance of environmental sustainability. A tree-planting exercise around the University of Ghana Campus highlighted the commitment of SPE to mitigating climate change and promoting a greener future.

The event concluded with a grand dinner and awards night to recognise exceptional student achievements, outstanding research papers, and overall contributions of individuals and organisations to the event. This celebration of talent and dedication served as a motivation for students to continue their pursuit of excellence in the energy sector.

The congress was supported by GNGC, MODEC Production Services Ghana JC Ltd., Kenyon International, Africa Centre for Energy Policy, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development Uganda.

Others are Vitol, Sonangol, Gecric Integrity Wayoe Engineering and Construction Limited, CEIPS, CUBICA Energy, Relu, and Offshore Africa.

Chairperson of SPE-Ghana section, Dr. Riverson Oppong, was thankful for the collaborative efforts of students, industry professionals, sponsors and collaborators.

“By providing a platform for knowledge-sharing, networking and inspiration, the SPE-Africa congress has played a vital role in nurturing the next generation of energy leaders in Africa. With their enthusiasm, skills and newfound insights, these students are well-equipped to shape Africa’s future in the global energy transition,” he said.

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