Abuja — Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged African countries to build a diversified economy that can survive without proceeds from oil and gas.
He made the call during the extraordinary session of ministers of the African Petroleum Producers Organisation (APPO) in Abuja, yesterday.
Osinbajo, who declared the event open, noted that without collaboration, investments that can drive growth of the oil and gas industry would remain a mirage, given the huge funding needed to meet the sector's demand.
According to him, increased synergy would mobilise necessary investment to deliver the continent's major infrastructural requirement.
He expressed optimism that trans-border gas and oil pipelines, joint refineries, gas plants and key infrastructures could increase if the continent concentrates on working together.
"We must keep in mind that oil and gas are only guaranteed today's resources and not necessarily tomorrow's.
We cannot bet on the fact that even a few decades from now, these natural resources would be as central or as relevant to the global economy as they are today.
"All serious economies around the world have realised this and are making determined plans for a world beyond oil or as they say, a zero-oil world.
As African countries, we cannot afford to act differently," Osinbajo told the policy makers.
The Vice President noted that regional integration would allow free flow of research dividends and technology, and policy direction beyond public sector or government ownership. It will also tap into private sector competencies and models to deliver projects.
"It is important to acknowledge that the relationship of our various countries with oil and gas is in an interesting and somewhat complicated mode.
It is, for many of us, the mainstay of our economies, delivering much needed government revenues and foreign exchange to our economies.
"But at the same time, there is the challenge of over-dependence, evident from the troubles we all went through when the price of crude oil dramatically fell in the period 2014 to 2015."
According to Osinbajo, it is time to open up APPO, so that all member countries and private institutions would be able to invest.
He also said APPO fund ought to operate as an autonomous entity independent of the APPO secretariat; the same way OPEC fund operates independently of OPEC.
Nigeria's Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, was named new APPO President.
He succeeded, Michel Boukor, Chad's Minister of Petroleum, who has officially handed over leadership of group.
Kachikwu said though the continent is witnessing massive opportunity in the sector, lots of investors still find it difficult to invest. He regretted that finding necessary finance for investment remained a serious challenge.