By Adedapo Adesanya
President Muhammadu Buhari and four other Nigerians have made it to the top 25 list of the African Energy Chamber’s Top 25 Movers & Shakers Watch List for 2021.
Published every year, the list identifies the leading African and international figures whose work and decisions have a direct impact on the African energy industry and the way Africans access and consume energy.
President Buhari is the first listed for his direct involvement in the possible passing and signing of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in 2021.
It was noted that if the President manages to carry through this substantial wave of reform in the country, it could unlock billions of dollars of investments and significantly boost the country’s recovery and West Africa’s overall attractiveness for business.
His ability to compromise and define the sector will be tested in the first quarter of 2021 when his government is expected to sign the all-important and long-awaited law.
Similarly, Mr Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), made the list for the first time. As the NNPC embarks on several strategic programmes and projects to boost refining capacity, cut upstream operational costs, develop energy infrastructure and unlock Nigeria’s gas potential, his actions and decisions can profoundly impact the short and medium-term outlook for Africa’s biggest oil & gas producing country.
Regarded as a veteran of the state oil company, he has been able to make his mark quickly since his appointment, strengthening corporate reporting and aggressively pushing the removal of fuel subsidies for refined products.
As LNG becomes more and more important for African markets, Mr Tony Attah, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria LNG is also listed for his piloting of the NLNGSevenPlus project. His ability to oversee the project’s execution and local content impact will be central to support Nigeria’s economic recovery and capacity building efforts.
It was explained that his presence is yet another indication of the rising role of gas as a driving force for the future of the Nigerian and West African’s hydrocarbons industry.
Other key figures of the power and electricity industries have also made it to the prestigious list: Mr Seun Suleiman, new Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Siemens Nigeria, and Mrs Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy.
Mr Suleiman is notably expected to become an increasingly influential executive as Siemens executes the Presidential Power Initiative in Nigeria in order to upgrade the country’s transmission and distribution systems and increase the overall national system’s capacity from 5 to 7 Gigawatts first, before ramping up to 11 Gigawatts and ultimately 25 Gigawatts. This notably puts Mr Suleiman and the German equipment giant in the fore when major decisions are being made on how to solve Nigeria’s energy sector problems.
On her side, Mrs Damilola Ogunbiyi has taken an increasing role in leading the global energy transition conversation and bringing a truly African voice to the fight against energy poverty. Her work in off-grid solar or LPG access notably has the power to transform the way Africans access and consume energy.
African Energy Chamber confirmed that the presence of so many Nigerians on the list confirms that what happens in Nigeria affects the rest of the industry across the continent.
It noted, “These five key figures of the industry will be instrumental in shaping up the recovery everyone expects in 2021, and in building a sustainable and inclusive energy sector that works for all Nigerians and Africans.”
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