Illuminating Africa's Path from Energy Poverty to Prosperity
How it all began
I was born in the lively city of Lagos, Nigeria, many years ago (but let's keep my age a secret). I grew up in Lagos, got my bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Lagos, and then moved to a city full of energy, Aberdeen, to earn a master's degree in Oil and Gas Engineering. But my entry into the realm of energy was no mere coincidence; it was guided by a profound sense of purpose, driven by an unwavering belief that passion should be the compass for our career choices.
"The only way to do great work is to love what you do."
- Steve Jobs
Allow me to digress momentarily. Having spent considerable time in ministry, I had the privilege of teaching a topic close to my heart - "Vision Analysis, Purpose, and Principles of Success." I often began by posing a peculiar scenario to my congregation: imagine being asked to fill the streets with dirt without any context or explanation. It's an absurd notion, isn't it? However, when the same task is presented differently – "Can residents help pile up dirt to secure the land and stop flooding from affecting the community?" – suddenly, purpose emerges, and people willingly embrace the cause. This simple illustration underscores the profound influence of purpose, a theme that will weave through the fabric of this article, revealing how purpose and passion guided my journey to Pontem Analytics and towards shaping the future of Africa.
Illuminating Africa's Path from Energy Poverty to Prosperity
"Energy is the golden thread that ties together economic growth, increased social equity, and an environment that allows the world to thrive."
- Ban Ki-moon
My career has been full of energy, from the oil and gas industry to renewable energy and the evolving energy transition. It's from this perspective that I want to talk about a significant issue affecting Africa – energy poverty. As I write this, I don't just represent Pontem Analytics; I'm a voice echoing a mission: to help Africa overcome energy poverty. This topic deserves more than a quick overview; it needs a deep dive into the subject, with clear explanations, eye-opening facts, and a focus on how digitalization can make a difference.
"In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity."
- Albert Einstein
In our global energy spectrum, I perceive energy as an inclusive resource, spanning the gamut from fossil fuels to renewable sources. While we frequently hear that fossil fuels are the arch-nemesis of our planet, the story is nuanced. It's imperative to acknowledge that while fossil fuels have contributed to climate change, they have also propelled nations towards remarkable progress. Won’t avoid the temptation to state that all the efforts towards renewable energy sources include significant contribution by oil and gas. The big blades of windmills are made out of oil and gas; the towers that hold them up have a hundred tonnes of coal inside each one of them. That’s how you make steel; you take iron and put carbon from coal and it’s put in by burning natural gas at high temperature. You can’t make a windmill, a nuclear power plant, a solar farm or a hydroelectric dam without oil and gas. Investment in renewable energy and energy transition has been powered predominantly by fossil fuels. I digress. One such triumphant narrative is that of the United States of America. In less than a century, the USA transitioned from an embattled nation to a global superpower, and it was energy accessibility through fossil fuels that played a central role. These fuels fueled their industrial revolution, elevated living standards, and extended life expectancy. To underscore this, consider these striking statistics:
"Energy and persistence conquer all things."
- Benjamin Franklin
In 1950, the life expectancy in the USA stood at roughly 68 years. By 2019, it had surged to nearly 79 years. This remarkable leap can be largely attributed to improved healthcare, access to clean water, and educational opportunities facilitated by energy access. It's a compelling testament to the inextricable link between energy access and human well-being.
Now, let's shift our gaze to Africa, a continent blessed with vast, untapped fossil fuel resources. Paradoxically, it grapples with energy poverty, with dire consequences - inadequate healthcare, limited access to clean water, and a scarcity of educational opportunities. Energy poverty is not an abstract concept; it's a harsh, tangible reality etched in the struggles of countless individuals. Imagine viewing Africa from space; the stark darkness that envelops much of the continent serves as a poignant metaphor. It's not merely the absence of light; it symbolizes Africa's exclusion from the global Industrial Revolution. Africa's potential lies dormant, obscured beneath layers of energy poverty.
Let’s put this in perspective; the mortality rate from extreme weather has declined by over 90% in the past century, despite a tripling of the global population. For a child born today, the risk of death due to extreme weather is at an all-time low. However, the anxiety surrounding this issue often exceeds concerns about energy access-related fatalities. Approximately one-third of the world's population, primarily in low-income areas of Africa and certain parts of Asia, relies on wood and agricultural waste for cooking within their homes. The particulate matter generated by this practice claims the lives of 2 to 3 million people annually. When compounded with factors like limited access to clean water, healthcare, and malnutrition, the total reaches 10 million preventable deaths each year, all stemming from a lack of basic energy resources. This constitutes a crisis.
"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time."
- Thomas A. Edison
This is where Pontem Analytics comes in, and the concept of production assurance takes center stage. Production assurance is intrinsically linked with flow assurance, a discipline that ensures the uninterrupted flow of oil and gas through pipelines. In an age of data and digitization, we have the tools to predict flow and detect leaks, ensuring production assurance. The use of digitalization and simulations is paramount in this endeavor. By harnessing high-end digital techniques, we can make oil and gas production more assured, efficient and reliable. But our mission extends beyond fossil fuels. We believe in the power of data analytics and digitalization to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of renewable energy solutions.
"The future depends on what you do today."
- Mahatma Gandhi
Pontem Analytics stands with you as a partner
Pontem Analytics stands shoulder-to-shoulder with you in this transformative journey. We are poised to collaborate with organizations, governments, and energy companies across the globe, deploying analytics, digitalization, and engineering to confront the world's most pressing challenges. Our purpose is unequivocal – to bridge the chasm between energy poverty and prosperity, delivering not just energy but hope, opportunity, and a brighter tomorrow. Our mission transcends numbers; it's about human lives. It's about a mother preserving medicine for her child, a student studying late into the night, and a clinic offering life-saving treatments. It's about narrowing the life expectancy gap between Africa and the United States
"Let’s make global content local in Africa."
- Temitope Solanke
To underscore the significance of our purpose, our movement into Africa is driven by a higher calling – to alleviate energy poverty on the continent by contributing production assurance and digitalization capabilities to support African energy companies and national oil companies.
Pontem Analytics has set up shop in Africa, ready to assess energy markets across all cardinal points of the continent. This is not our first foray into Africa; several key members have had the privilege of leading large SURF projects in the region. After my MSc degree in Oil and Gas Engineering, I was employed by Multiphase Solutions Inc., where serendipity introduced me to Tommy. My inaugural project involved a wax management study for the Addax Rabi pipeline in Gabon, followed by the BP Angola Block 31 NE (PSVM) project, where I spearheaded the production assurance aspect from FEED to first oil. Following that, I had the honor of being seconded to BP to bolster asset integrity efforts.
Pontem Analytics has strategically chosen Rwanda as its African headquarters. Rwanda's reputation as one of the safest and most investment-friendly environments in the region, coupled with its central location amidst East African energy hubs such as Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, makes it an ideal choice. Additionally, the extensive network of Rwanda's flagship airline, RwandAir, connecting to vital energy destinations within Africa (East, West, North and South Africa) and worldwide, further solidifies Rwanda's appeal. The country's strong commitment to sustainability, abundant diversification opportunities, and a well-trained workforce have significantly contributed to our decision. Rwanda isn't just a destination; it serves as a launchpad for our growth and success in the African market. We look forward to sharing more compelling reasons for you to consider our operations in Rwanda. Stay tuned for exciting updates.
I remember a memorable trip with Tommy to Nigeria over a decade ago. He was eager to explore business opportunities in Nigeria and collaborate with local firms in the production assurance arena. Tommy had an unforgettable encounter with Nigerian cuisine. One evening at the hotel restaurant, he boldly ordered the spiciest meal on the menu, oblivious to the fiery nature of Nigerian food. Pepper soup was his choice. As you can imagine, the name alone should have provided a hint, but Tommy dove right in. The rest, thankfully, didn't involve a trip to the emergency room. Tommy’s commitment to Africa is one of the reasons I believe in Pontem Analytics and this cause; it is not rhetoric for him, his antecedent regarding Africa has been endearing. There are more stories to tell but I will save them for another time.
I am thrilled to be part of this journey to eradicate energy poverty in Africa. My 18 years of experience in the energy sector across EAME and the Americas, coupled with my MBA from the prestigious Warwick Business School, have prepared me for this challenge and the next chapter in my professional journey. I eagerly anticipate connecting with energy organizations and governments across Africa to transform this vision into reality.
In closing, let us remember that the battle against energy poverty is not solely a matter of energy sources; it's a battle for human lives. The world still requires fossil fuels in its energy mix, and we cannot ignore the immediate needs of those without access to energy. Nigeria, Rwanda, Angola, Senegal, Cameroon, Mozambique, Congo, South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, and beyond – we are coming to partner with you to illuminate your path to a brighter future!
A song that encapsulates the themes and journey described in my article is "This Is Me" from the movie "The Greatest Showman." This song conveys the idea of embracing one's purpose, being unapologetically true to oneself, and overcoming obstacles to shine brightly. These themes align with the narrative of my article, which focuses on finding purpose, addressing energy poverty, and making a meaningful impact on people's lives in Africa. If you haven’t listened to it, please do on my recommendation.