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Maiden SPE Africa Regional Students’ Congress: Empowering Next-generation Global Energy Leaders

Updated: May 26, 2023

The energy landscape is undergoing a remarkable transformation, and the role of Africa in the global energy transition is becoming increasingly significant. Recognizing this, the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) organized the inaugural Africa Annual Students’ Congress 2023, under the auspices of the African Regional Director, Mrs. Oghogho Effiom. The congress, with the theme "The role of Africa in Global Energy Transition: The Student’s Perspective," took place from the 8th to the 10th of May and brought together students from various African countries to discuss, learn, and network.

Participating countries included Congo, Chad, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and Mozambique, reflecting the diverse representation and commitment to the energy sector across the continent. Ghana had the honor of hosting the congress, which was broadcasted virtually, allowing for global participation and engagement.

The congress spanned three days, each packed with informative and engaging activities.

The first day of the congress began with opening remarks by Dr. Ben Asante, Board Chair of SPE Ghana Section, and Dr. Riverson Oppong, Chairperson of SPE Ghana Section. Their insightful words set the tone for the congress, emphasizing the significance of the students' perspectives in shaping the future of Africa's energy industry.

Mrs. Oghogho Effiom, the Director of SPE Africa Region, delivered the keynote speech, offering valuable insights into the role of Africa in the global energy transition. Her address inspired the students to embrace the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead and encouraged them to be catalysts for change.

A panel discussion on "The role of Africa in Global Energy Transition: The Students’ Perspective" provided a platform for students to share their ideas and insights, fostering a collaborative environment. The discussion, moderated by Ama Sarpong, Deputy SPE D&I Chair, saw the participation of Mr. Victor Sunu-Attah, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation; Mr. Kwaku Boateng, Petroleum Commission; Mr. Ben Boakye, Africa Center for Energy Policy; Mr. Theophilus Ahwireng, MODEC Production Services Ghana JV Ltd; Dr. Ishmael Ackah, Public Utilities Regulatory Commission; and Mr. David Ampofo, Ghana Upstream Petroleum Chamber.

The day also featured presentations on the art of delivering outstanding presentations by Mr. Ola Davi and the power of self-esteem by Mr. Temitope Oshuntuyi, equipping the students with valuable skills for their future endeavors.

The day’s event was climaxed with the Students Paper Contest amongst undergraduate students from the various participating countries. After the contest, Maame Aba Kwagyiri from the University of Mines and Technology, Ghana, emerged winner.

The second day commenced with a keynote presentation by Mrs. Cynthia Lumor, Deputy MD of Tullow Ghana Limited, who shared her experiences and insights on building and sustaining a career as a woman in a male-dominated industry. This session highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusion in the energy sector and inspired female students to pursue their ambitions fearlessly.

A panel discussion moderated by Ms. Rubabat Oseni, Ghana National Gas Company, on "Building and Sustaining a Career as a Woman in a Male Dominated Industry" further explored the challenges and opportunities for women in the energy sector. Dignitaries on the panel included Mr. Josh Okpalanne, VITOL; Mrs. Sheena Owusu-Ansah, SPE Ghana D& I Chair; Mrs. Oghogho Effiom, Shell; Mrs. Nidra Araba Yebua, Schlumberger Limited; Ms. Ida Yeboah; and Mr. Emmanuel Ametsi, GAIM.

The second day also witnessed graduate students engaging in paper contests, providing a platform for advanced research and academic excellence. Of the four students, Alexander Ofori Mensah from the University of Mines and Technology, Ghana, came top, giving UMaT two wins at SPC.

The Petrobowl Competition, also organized on day two, crowned Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Uganda, and University of Mines and Technology, Ghana, as winners, earning them the opportunity to join the three victorious Nigerian schools in representing Africa at the lnternational level.

The final day of the congress featured a keynote presentation by Mr. Samuel Nii Adjei, HR Manager at Ghana Gas, who enlightened the audience on the topic of "Standing out Among Your Peers." The session emphasized the importance of professional development and unique value propositions in a competitive industry.

A panel discussion on "Standing out Among Your Peers" further delved into strategies and insights to distinguish oneself in the energy sector. The distinguished panelists who made this successful were Dr. Victor Ekpenyong, Kenyon International; Mr. Benjamin Buabeng, Ghana National Gas Company; Mrs. Anita Bonney, Deep Ocean; Ms. Lesley Arthur Asiedu, CUBICA Energy; Ms. Eve Kilonzi, Kenya; and Mr. Joseph Willie Amoah, Petroleum Hub Development Corporation. The discussion was facilitated by Mr. Derrick Klutse, Tullow Ghana.

The congress also featured a career fair, enabling students to interact with prominent petroleum companies and explore potential career opportunities. There was also an Energy4me initiative, spearheaded by Lou Jean Rodriguez from Dubai, which provided valuable experimental resources and workshops, empowering high school students with knowledge about energy.

The congress did not overlook the significance of environmental sustainability. A tree-planting exercise around the University of Ghana Campus highlighted the commitment of SPE to mitigating climate change and promoting a greener future.

To conclude the congress, a grand dinner and awards night were held, recognizing exceptional student achievements, outstanding research papers, and overall contributions of individuals and organizations to the event. This celebration of talent and dedication served as a motivation for students to continue their pursuit of excellence in the energy sector.

The success of the congress would not have been possible without the generous support of the sponsors and collaborators. Ghana Gas, MODEC Production Services Ghana JC Ltd, Kenyon International, Africa Center for Energy Policy, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development Uganda, Vitol, Sonangol, Gecric Integrity Wayoe Engineering and Construction Limited were among the sponsors, recognizing the importance of empowering the next generation of energy leaders. CEIPS, CUBICA Energy, and Relu Creatives served as collaborators, contributing their expertise and resources to enrich the event. The media partners, BF&T, and Offshore Africa played a vital role in ensuring the congress's reach and visibility.

Ghana’s maiden hosting of the SPE Africa Regional Students’ Congress was a resounding success, thanks to the collaborative efforts of students, industry professionals, sponsors, and collaborators. By providing a platform for knowledge-sharing, networking, and inspiration, the congress has played a vital role in nurturing the next generation of energy leaders in Africa. With their enthusiasm, skills, and newfound insights, these students are well-equipped to shape Africa's future in the global energy transition.

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