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LNG’s potential as an African power source



With six of the top 10 global oil and gas discoveries in 2013 made in Africa, it would seem logical that this energy source would be the answer to the continent’s power problems.

In fact, a lot of current developments underway in Africa point to a future based heavily on the reliable base-load power that can be generated from the continent’s vast liquid-natural gas (LNG) resources.Certainly, a lower gas price further motivates decisions to develop gas-to-power projects in these countries to complement their existing energy mixes.

And, adding to the lure of gas-to-power is the shorter lead-times needed to development a power plant – once the industry policy framework has been adequately addressed – and its lower carbon footprint. Especially as many African states grapple with providing affordable, decarbonised and secure electricity; and meeting commitments to international global carbon emissions reduction strategies.

Infrastructure development

However, a clear vision and plan is essential to ensure the development of the necessary infrastructure – such as ports, pipelines and LNG facilities, not to mention secondary infrastructure development – is in support of adequately monetise these reserves and unlocking the full potential they offer to bolster development across Africa.

For instance, while each country has its own unique requirements that have to adequately address their own important localisation and environmental agendas, for the long-term planning to be successful, countries need to look beyond the immediate sector and consider the resultant growth implications for other related downstream industries – albeit across borders – as well. Where the challenge is ensuring an optimal balance between attracting the necessary investment and technical capabilities needed to get a prospective gas plant off the ground – but without stifling private-sector interest.

Key lessons can be learnt from Nigeria, Libya, Algeria and Egypt – which have already developed this capability, together producing 91% of annual worldwide gas production.

In energy-starved sub-Saharan Africa, West Africa hosts a mature LNG industry with the necessary gas-to-power generation experience and capacity in place to further harness this fuel stock. For example, some existing assets by country in this region include, but not exclusive to:

  • Nigeria – 450MW Azura Power Plant
  • Ivory Coast – 430MW Azito Power Plant and the 344MW CIPREL project
  • Ghana – 450MW Domunli gas-fired closed-cycle gas turbine project

More recently, most of the focus has been on the significant LNG resources found in Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya. Over the years, these countries have adopted a very proactive approach to policymaking, geared at getting prospective gas plants off the ground.

Tanzania and Mozambique, specifically for instance, have already developed the foundation on which more power could be generated from their power stations. These pillars have largely been developed upon the Songo Songo as well as Temane and Pande gas fields, respectively.

The Temane and Pande gas fields are also a reliable source of gas for large industrial undertakings in South Africa and, more recently, the source of fuel for a 120MW power station at Ressano Garcia. These resources are being complemented by more recent gas finds in the Rovuma River Basin, driving large and ambitious infrastructure projects.

This includes the significant upgrading of the Port of Pemba, which is being positioned to support the extensive gas industry that will be developed around these resources. Added to this, a vibrant gas industry in the region will also act as a catalyst for significant investments into secondary infrastructure in Cabo Delgado province.

This long-term project reflects the massive investment into infrastructure that is needed to adequately support these programmes during the execution and operational phases, extending all the way through to activities further downstream.

LNG is on SA’s agenda

South Africa, on the other hand, has placed LNG firmly on its agenda, which includes importing the fuel from neighbouring Mozambique to generate electricity at gas-to-power plants along its coastline. These will be developed by independent power producers (IPPs).

The gas-to-power IPP programme in South Africa aims to use transportable LNG as fuel for the proposed gas turbine power plants. To date, the department of energy (DoE) has indicated that they have identified three major ports in South Africa – including Saldanha Bay, Richards Bay and Coega – where floating storage and regasification units (FSRU) will be stationed for LNG receiving and regasification.

From there, natural gas in gaseous form will be piped to the power plant. This is quite an exciting development as while it is proven and used in a number of countries around the world, it will be a first for the country – and will allow South Africa to build IPP gas power plants in relatively short periods of time. It will also pioneer development of a wider scale expansion of the natural gas distribution and utilisation infrastructure in South Africa.

Just as importantly, South Africa’s gas aspirations call for the effective harnessing of its own LNG reserves, including the shale gas resource that still need to be thoroughly explored in the Karoo. The positive and negative environmental and social impacts that may result from the development of the Karoo shale gas need to be assessed on a scientific and technical basis and measured against the country’s Gas Utilisation Master Plan framework policy.

However, South Africa urgently needs a set regulatory framework that identifies its key resources and lays out the foundation for the necessary investment in infrastructure. Only then will the country be able to monetise natural gas and use it as a key driver for promoting growth and economic development.

Many African economies – along with their power sectors – are experiencing seasons of rapid transformation; and the monetisation of natural gas is certainly a key driver for promoting growth and economic development in several sub-Saharan Africa countries. However, there is also huge potential for developing power generation capacities, where we are already seeing a number of capabilities and gas-to-power projects come to fruition – and I therefore believe that gas-to-power has a substantial role to play in Africa’s power mix. These developments are very promising.

I believe the gas-to-power programme will significantly contribute towards South Africa’s power mix and technology diversification, today and well into the future.

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Power Supply Efficiency: Dangote Cement PLC Partner GE to Digitize Its Cement Plants to Boost Reliability



GE’s APM Digital Solution Will Help Reduce Unplanned Downtime and Enhance Operational Performance

LAGOS, Nigeria, October 24, 2019- GE Will Modernize Seven GE LM6000PC Aeroderivative Gas Turbines and Install Its Asset Performance Management (APM) Digital Solution at Dangote Cement Plants in Obajana and Ibese, Nigeria;Contract Includes Service Agreement Extension for Additional 50,000 Operating Hours for Each of the Seven GE LM6000PC Aeroderivative Gas Turbines; GE’s APM Digital Solution Will Help Reduce Unplanned Downtime and Enhance Operational Performance; GE’s Total Plant Solutions Will Improve Power Supply Efficiency and Help Extend the Life of the Cement Plants

GE (NYSE: GE) and Africa’s leading cement producer Dangote Cement Plc signed an agreement to deploy GE’s Asset Performance Management (APM) digital solution to reduce unplanned downtime and enhance performance at its two cement plants in Obajana and Ibese, Nigeria. The project includes extending the current service agreement for an additional 50,000 operating hours for the seven GE LM6000PC aeroderivative gas turbines installed at the sites. GE’s total plant solutions will improve efficiency, reliability essential to continuous operations and the plants’ business strategy.

“Power supply is both a key input and a major cost in our manufacturing process,” said Ravi Sood, Operations Director, Dangote Cement Plc. “Operational performance is crucial to our cement plant’s overall productivity, directly affecting end products. Being at the front of cement production in Africa, we believe extending our services agreement with GE and the introduction of digital solutions will allow us to improve efficiencies, anticipate further reductions in unplanned downtime and become more self-sufficient in power production in a country which, with approximately 190 million inhabitants, is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh most populous country in the world.”

APM leverages cutting-edge technology to monitor the performance of power generation assets to reduce downtime, avoid turbines damage and remotely predict and resolve issues. APM sensors will be installed not only on the seven aeroderivative turbines, but also on their associated generators and gear boxes to predict and accurately diagnose issues with greater accuracy before they occur.

“Energy infrastructure is getting smarter, and digital solutions allow not only the shift from traditional calendar-based repairs to predictive maintenance, but they also increase power asset availability and reliability,” said Elisee Sezan, CEO for GE’s Gas Power businesses in sub–Saharan Africa. “We are proud to continue our 13-year collaboration with Dangote Cement to help them support Nigeria and other African countries towards achieving self-reliance and self-sufficiency in the world’s most basic commodities.”

Also Read: Serengeti Breweries Limited (SBL) marks growth milestone with a new corporate logo

The agreement underscores GE’s commitment to work collaboratively with its customers using the APM software to optimize their performance of assets, increase reliability and availability, minimize costs and reduce operational risks. Earlier this year, GE announced the first digital solutions order in sub-Saharan Africa for Azito in Ivory Coast  improving power plant output, reliability, availability and operational performance.


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Cameroon: Three power plants financed by the African Development Bank to reduce power cuts



Image credit: African Development Bank

For many years, Cameroon’s national electricity supply has been notoriously unreliable and subject to power cuts. The last significant electric system outage, which lasted eight hours, occurred last March and affected several of the country’s regions (the Far North, North, Littoral, Adamaoua, South and Centre regions).

However, three projects financed by the African Development Bank for $121.4 million in 2010-2011 are at last starting to provide long-suffering Cameroonians with much more reliable electricity.

Completion of work on transport lines, line maintenance and especially the replacement of wooden electricity transport poles with concrete poles are all part of the system improvements, whose goal is to increase the quality and reliability of public access to electricity.

The Lom Panga storage reservoir project is complete, but the dam’s generating plant is still under construction. In the meantime, two other power plants, Kribi and Dibamba, have begun working  to strengthen Cameroon’s generating capacity.

In November 2011, the African Development Bank awarded $62.9 million for the construction of Lom-Pangar, the hydroelectric generation’s ‘lungs’ in the country’s East region. The project included the construction of a reservoir (6 billion cubic meters of water retained) for regulating the Sanaga’s flow and optimising generation during low water periods at the Song Loulou plant (335 MW) and the Edea plant (224 MW). The production from these two plants has grown from 450 MW in 2011 to 729 MW now.

A 30 MW hydroelectric generating plant is under construction at the base of the dam. It will be linked to the Bertoua thermal plant by a 105 km 90kV line that should start to work in May 2021 following the installation of an evacuation station and the construction of its four turbines. Lom-Pangar will provide electricity to 150 locations in the region and will significantly reduce power cuts in the area.

“The Lom-Pangar dam will help save water in other reservoirs,” said Theodore Nsangou, the General Director of the Electricity Development Corporation (EDC), in an interview with a government publication in March 2018.

The 216 MW capacity Kribi gas-fired generating plant began to work in 2013 after receiving $32.8 million from the African Development Bank in July 2011 for an expansion project. Its production goal is 330 MW. Currently, the power plant has a 100 km 225 kV transport line connecting it with the Magombe substation in the Edea region in the country’s South region. The plant operates with natural gas (with light fuel oil as emergency backup) from the Sagana South offshore gas field.

During the dry season, the Kribi plant and its nine simple cycle gas turbines are truly the system’s “oxygen”, maintaining the country’s energy flow, particularly to the South’s interconnected system, which receives its electricity from Kribi.

The Kribi gas-fired generating plant and the Dibamba generating plant provide access to electricity for close to half of Cameroon’s population.

The Dibamba heavy fuel oil generating plant was also designed to meet the serious problem of power cuts during the dry season. It was the first of the three plants to receive financial support from the African Development Bank of $25.6 million in April 2010. Built to mitigate the country’s shortage of electricity, high demand quickly outpaced its capacity the day after it began operations.

Located in the outskirts of Douala, Cameroon’s second largest city, Dibamba is an 86 MW thermal generating plant with a 2 km 90 kV transport line linked to the network serving the most remote and densely populated areas in the country’s West region.

Also Read Interview: African Energy Chamber Executive Chairman, NJ Ayuk on Transforming Africa’s Energy Sector

With an estimated 23,000 MW hydroelectric production capacity, Cameroon has the second largest hydroelectric potential in Africa and the 18th largest worldwide. The country plans to complete the development of its hydroelectric industries by 2035. Construction of the Nachtigal hydroelectric generating plan began in 2019 and will be complete in about five years, with an estimated generating capacity of 420 MW.

The African Development Bank has awarded a funding package of $154.8 million for the completion of this generating plant. Other development partners, such as the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and Proparco, are also involved.

African Development Bank

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UNDP, Sahara Group Target Energy Access To 10 Million Households In Africa



New York, USA: September 24, 2019- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Sahara Group have unveiled the Africa Renewable Energy Forum to boost access to sustainable energy for 10 million households in Africa through alternative energy initiatives and interventions.

Launched at the margins of the 74th UN General Assembly in New York, the Africa Renewable Energy Forum is expected to bolster ongoing partnership between UNDP and the Sahara Group that aims to create access to clean and affordable energy in Africa.

The forum will serve as a platform for policy discussions, multi-stakeholder collaboration and funding towards implementation of tailored renewable energy solutions across the continent. Ultimately, the platform will galvanise the political momentum needed to record significant progress through strong partnerships, effective regulation and mutual accountability.

The event had senior officials from both organisations in attendance including, Ahunna Eziakonwa, Regional Director and Assistant Secretary General for UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, as Kola Adesina, Group Managing Director, Sahara Power Group, Pearl Uzokwe, Director, Governance and Sustaianability, Sahara Group, Bethel Obioma, Head Corporate Communications, Sahara Group and Babatomiwa Adesida, Private Sector Engagement Specialist, Sahara Foundation.

Cross section of delegates during the launch of the Africa Renewable Energy Forum in New York, USA at the sideline of the ongoing 74th UNGA.

Africa has the highest percentage of untapped hydropower potential in the world, with only 11% utilization capacity. Whilst the global electrification rate reached 89% in 2018 and 153m people gained access to electricity (WB Stats, May 2019), the biggest challenge remains in the most remote areas globally and sub-Saharan Africa in particular, where an estimated 573m people are not connected to grid power.

With over 600 million Africans having no access to electricity, Ahunna Eziakonwa said the continent urgently needs to embrace renewable energy sources to sustainably connect the poorest and hardest to reach households. “Access to energy will enhance the cause of poverty alleviation and also yield huge benefits for education, healthcare, production, and socio-economic development. The UNDP-Sahara partnership is extremely crucial as it will provide a model for engaging a wide range of stakeholders to address the continent’s energy challenge in line with the SDG framework,” Ahunna stated.

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Kola Adesina said the initiative has the potential to create over one million jobs in Africa as the continent continues its march towards achieving the 2030 SDG Agenda. “Renewable energy is still in its infancy as far as Africa is concerned. We need unrelenting awareness initiatives to inspire a mindset shift to renewable energy in Africa with the various governments, private sector and development agencies leading the charge. At Sahara Group we believe that interventions like the UNDP-Sahara partnership will enhance productivity and shared prosperity in Africa.”

Sahara Group

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