Earth Finds

Earth Finds

Bunyoro Kingdom Premier Calls For Dialogue To End Oil Standoff

By George Busiinge

The Prime Minister of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom Andrew Byakutaga has called on government and the international oil companies to sit down together and discuss the ongoing impasse in the oil and gas sector.

Recently, French oil major Total E&P, the lead joint venture partner of the proposed East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), announced that it had suspended all activities on the project citing uncertainty over its Uganda operation.

Total suspended the crude oil pipeline activities following a disagreement between their JV partner Tullow Oil and government over a tax row stemming from Tullow’s intended sale of its Uganda operations stake to Total and CNOOC.

Total E&P, which rooted for the Tanzanian route as choice for the pipeline, established the Total East Africa Midstream B.V as the interim developer for the crude oil export pipeline from Hoima in mid-western Uganda to Tanga Port at the Indian Ocean in Tanzania.

Addressing journalists at his office in Karuziika palace in Hoima town, Byakutaaga noted that there is need for government to discus with Total E&P and other oil companies and reach a consensus on the matter.

He noted that the suspension will negatively impact the economy and the local population since many people have been preparing to tap from the existing oil opportunities.

He said: “Our sons and daughters who have been working there are going to lose jobs. The hotels that have been offering accommodation to the workers in the oil and gas sector are also going to lose yet they have invested a lot,”

He notes that as a Kingdom, they are planning to meet the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development Irene Muloni to discuss and forge away forward to ensure that the standoff between the government and oil companies get resolved and activities resume.

 

Time To Make Energy Work For Africa

By Prince Arthur Eze

It is long past time that we made energy work for Africa. It is past time that Africa's natural resources benefited Africans; that every African had access to electricity; and that the wealth created by oil and gas would lead to the sustainable development of African economies.

Certainly, much needs to be done to make these dreams a reality, and the continent's top leaders in the energy industry will gather in Cape Town on October 9-11 in Africa Oil & Power 2019 to drive the conversation forward and #MakeEnergyWork.

Thankfully, success stories and opportunities abound.

The incredible story of Senegal, for example, stands as a roadmap on creating a transparent government; building the needed infrastructure to support future development; creating an attractive regulatory framework to bring in much-needed FID and new investment; and for using the oil and gas sector to spur new growth.

The country, led by H.E. Macky Sall, the President of the Republic of Senegal, has seen tremendous growth in the last decade, consistently ranking in the top ten fastest-growing economies in the world. Government reforms, led by Sall, have improved Senegal's image both domestically and abroad, encouraging a string of new investment in oil and gas, electricity, roads, fisheries and tourism.

The outlook for the country's oil and gas sector, led by Sall, is bullish, with two of the world's most-watched projects -- SNE oilfield and the Great Tortue/Ahmeyim gas project -- moving forward. Both are expected to start producing export revenues in the early 2020s.

H.E. Sall, winner of the prestigious "Africa Oil Man of the Year" award during the 2019 Africa Oil & Power conference, has certainly provided Africans with a strong example of leadership and cooperation. We are honored to recognize and support H.E. Sall's achievements and continued efforts at Africa Oil & Power.

At Atlas-Oranto, we are proud to be leading pioneers in the sustainable development of Africa's energy sector, ensuring growth in countries like South Sudan, where we are honored to operate Block B3; in Equatorial Guinea where we operate Block I and in Nigeria, where we operate OML109.

In total, Atlas-Oranto is active in 11 countries in Africa and we are committed to working with the governments and communities of these countries to ensure our operations meet the highest standards of energy development. In Equatorial Guinea, for example, we are currently investing $350 million into the country's gas monetization and backfill project.

At Atlas-Oranto -- Africa's largest privately-held, Africa-focused exploration and production group -- we have faith in Africans, and we invest heavily in frontier markets so that the continent as a whole can continue to grow.

We know first-hand what it takes to get new investments off the ground and how to grow small-to-medium enterprises. It takes boots on the ground, as well as understanding and coordination with our brothers and sisters around the world.

Indeed, with new investment opportunities on the horizon and a new drive to cooperate across borders, now is the time to spur this sustainable growth in Africa with energy as the catalyst.

At Africa Oil & Power 2019, many of these opportunities will be featured, including the ongoing licensing rounds in Equatorial Guinea and Angola; the launch of South Sudan licensing round; and more.

For three days, over 1,200 of Africa's foremost thought leaders, industry experts, private sector executives and government officials will gather together to discuss the incredible role of technology in Africa's energy sector; the rise of renewables; the incredible upstream opportunities from South Africa to Senegal and the need for cooperation.

Energy: Democratisation Of Innovation And What It Means For Africa

By Sabine Dall’Omo

Without technological constraints, more people from across Africa are free to innovate and create on the global stage; democratisation of energy is necessary to enable Africans to move into the digital age.

The term ‘Democratisation of Technology’ has become synonymous with the digital age. In a nutshell, it means that access to advanced technology is no longer the domain of a privileged few, but that more and more people are benefitting from access to smart technologies which is rapidly levelling the playing field of global innovation.

One of the deciding factors in who has access to this technology, is the distribution of energy. In order to ensure the equality of technology we first need to solve the problem of unreliable energy.

The concept that energy must come from one central source is inefficient and outdated. By decentralising energy and allowing people to generate and use energy as needed, you’re allowing people to take charge of their own prosperity.

In a continent like Africa, with the incredible opportunity for solar and wind generated energy, keeping energy centralised severely hampers the potential for economic growth.

Microgrids are an effective way to quickly and effectively diversify a centralised energy grid. By employing microgrids you not only take the strain off the central grid and lower your carbon footprint, you also create economic opportunities where people can sell off excess energy produced.

The Brooklyn Microgrid project is an excellent example of how clean energy can be turned into thriving micro-economies. In this case, LO3 Energy, a company based in New York US, working alongside Siemens have installed a solar-powered microgrid.

In addition to generating clean energy for its own use, the company also installed a blockchain enabled transactive energy platform. This means any unused energy can be sold, generating a new revenue stream.

The same system could be put in place in certain parts of Africa. A shop or building even in remote parts of the country, for example, could install a microgrid and sell off excess energy to surrounding businesses.

You could take it one step further and create a transparent energy retail environment where a resident in another part of the country, could choose to top-up their electricity directly from a microgrid supplier based elsewhere.

By diversifying energy through microgrid technology, we can very quickly create new income streams in disadvantaged areas while at the same time growing and stabilising access to energy. This, in turn, will kickstart real democratisation of energy. 

Our Siemens office in Midrand is equipped with a microgrid and now uses 50% less power off the central grid. The office has gone more than a year with uninterrupted power and has saved about 2 460 tons of CO2 since the system was opened (174 000 kWh per month).

Enabling democratisation of technology

Through energy comes wider access to communication and the ability to participate in global conversations through online connectivity. This in turn nurtures creativity, innovation and economic growth.

Traditionally, the journey from ‘idea’ to ‘successful product or business’ is a complicated process involving business cases, pitches for funding to build a prototype, raising capital investment for production and testing, wading through patent approvals and trademark law.

While many of these steps are still crucial once you have a working prototype, the democratisation of technology makes it easier for inventors and entrepreneurs to develop their ideas.

SME’s are vital economic drivers and making it easier for them to compete will benefit the economy as a whole.

Digital twinning is one example that streamlines the production process. A digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical product or process, used to understand and predict the physical counterpart’s performance characteristics. Digital twins are used throughout the product lifecycle to simulate, predict, and optimise the product and production system before investing in physical prototypes and assets.

This means innovators can test their products in the virtual world and refine it before ever needing to raise money for testing.

Real-life testing is still vital with most products, but with digital twinning you can get your product as close to perfect in the virtual world in order to save time and costs when it comes to the final real-life test phase.

In many ways this agility levels the playing field giving small, developing companies (and countries) the same opportunities as their bigger and more established counterparts.

Siemens also offers this technology free to universities. Students have access to a free version of the same easy-to-use software suite used by professionals. In addition to free software, we provide tutorials, webinars, online courses and certification to help them develop their skills.

Breaking down barriers

Through access to technology anyone, anywhere, has the opportunity to create a thriving business or economy. Across Africa it can play a large role in the empowerment of women and youth development.

One example is our Siemens Fabric campaign, which was set on the global stage, but all the fabric produced for the initiative was made by a small female-owned business situated in Alexandra, Gauteng. Legae Larona Sewing Cooperative in Alex now forms part of the Siemens Enterprise Development programme.

This is where you start seeing the results of the democratisation of technology – when an innovator from a small community in a developing nation has the same access to opportunity as those operating from high-tech offices in the first world.

It’s not yet a perfect system, but through the clever use of technology we can exponentially increase access to opportunity.

Sabine Dall’Omo is the CEO of Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa

Huawei Drops Lawsuit Against US Government

Huawei's US subsidiary, Huawei Technologies USA Inc. (HT USA), dropped a lawsuit on Sept. 9 against the US Commerce Department and several other US government agencies that it has filed back in June.

The case was originally filed in response to telecommunications equipment that was seized without justification by US officials in September 2017.

After a prolonged and unexplained seizure, Huawei has decided to drop the case after the US government returned the equipment, which Huawei views as a tacit admission that the seizure itself was unlawful and arbitrary.

This case was cited among a series of concerns the company recently enumerated with regard to inappropriate and unjustified actions against Huawei by the US government.

 The equipment, which includes computer servers, Ethernet switches, and other telecommunications gear made by Huawei in China, should have been shipped back to China after commercial testing and certification at a laboratory in California in September 2017.

The US Commerce Department, citing unidentified export violation concerns, seized the equipment while it was in transit.

In the two years since, and despite multiple requests from Huawei, the US government failed to make a decision on whether an export license was required for the equipment to be shipped back to China, and continued to hold it.

 Huawei had no alternative but to file a lawsuit on June 21 at the US District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging the US government's prolonged and unexplained failure to determine whether the equipment could be shipped to China without an export license.

These actions by the US Government violated the Constitution and the Administrative Procedures Act, among others.

 In August, the US government informed HT USA in writing that, following a belated investigation, it had determined that no export license was required for shipment to China, and Huawei had complied with the Export Administration Regulations when attempting to ship the equipment back. The US government shipped the equipment back to HT USA at the government’s expense.

 Dr. Song Liuping, Huawei's chief legal officer, said Huawei has landed a de facto victory despite its voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit, but is still disappointed by the fact that the US government has failed to provide any explanation for unlawfully withholding Huawei equipment for so long.

 In a notice of voluntary dismissal filed with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, HT USA said it requested in writing the US Commerce Department to explain fully why it detained the equipment in 2017, why it decided to release it now, and why it took almost two years to recognize that the equipment's detention was not justified. Thus far the government has refused to explain.

 "Arbitrary and unlawful government actions like this – detaining property without cause or explanation – should serve as a cautionary tale for all companies doing normal business in the United States, and should be subject to legal constraints," said Dr. Song.

 In a media statement on September 3, Huawei listed how the US government has been using every tool at its disposal – including both judicial and administrative powers – to disrupt the normal business operations of the company.

This includes obstructing normal business activities and technical communications through intimidation, denying visas, and detaining shipments. Dr. Song noted that Huawei will continue to vigorously defend its legitimate rights and interests with legal means.

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