Siemens Energy Africa MD Nadja Haakansson: «We are in discussions with Namibia, South Africa and others for hydrogen projects»
Africa Business+ spoke to Siemens Energy’s managing director for Africa, Nadja Haakansson, about projects and priorities on the continent.
AB+: Siemens Energy reorganised its Africa management nine months ago. What is the purpose of this reorganisation?
Nadja Haakansson: A specific Africa division, based in Casablanca, Morocco, was created in April 2021, which clearly illustrates the new strategic focus on the African continent. Previously, Africa was managed by an EMEA division. In addition to Casablanca and the Tangier office in charge of operations at the Tahaddart thermal power plant, Siemens Energy Africa is managing teams in Algeria, Egypt, Côte d’Ivoire to cover French-speaking Africa (Senegal, Benin, Togo, Cameroon in particular), and Nigeria, which is an important market for us with a presence that goes back many years. We are also in Angola and South Africa to cover Southern and Eastern Africa (Mozambique, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda) and in Ghana on a smaller scale. In total, Siemens Energy employs almost 1,500 people on the African continent.
Sub-Saharan Africa has immense energy needs for access to electricity for a large part of its population living in poverty, and for the development of its industry and economy more broadly. We have the technologies, transmission solutions to develop the electricity networks and of course energy production solutions, from gas and renewable energy. Africa is the next growth driver. The continent will not be able to take off and solve its social problems, access to employment and industrialisation unless the energy issue is resolved.
What are your main projects and prospects on the continent? In particular in hydrogen?
There are many developments to come. We cover a wide scope, providing large-scale solutions for national power generation and supply needs, and implementing independent solutions for industry. Southern Africa is of great interest for hydrogen. We have projects in this field and discussions with certain countries, such as Namibia, South Africa, Morocco and Egypt. But it must be remembered that developments around hydrogen are still in the very early stages, and it will take time before the hydrogen ecosystem has a real impact on the continent. In the nearer, more certain future, we have many projects linked to the transmission of electricity on the network. In Nigeria, for example, we are heavily involved in supporting the government’s electrification initiative, The Presidential Power Initiative. We also have other projects related to power transmission networks in Ghana and Angola. There are a lot of things emerging around power transmission. And of course, we have power generation projects, from combined cycle power plants, oil, natural gas and hydrogen.
We are now able to combine up to 60% hydrogen and natural gas in a power station to produce electricity. We fundamentally believe that natural gas, which is abundant along the African coast, is part of the short-term solution for efficient, stable and affordable energy production in Africa.
In your view, natural gas remains a major pillar in meeting Africa’s energy needs?
Yes, absolutely, and to drive the energy transition on the continent. To meet its targets in terms of electricity consumption from renewable energy, Africa needs natural gas, which has two-thirds lower CO2 emissions than coal. South Africa, which is very dependent on coal, is relying on both natural gas and renewable energy, wind and solar, to ensure its energy transition. Of course, we must move in the direction of renewables, but for Africa the priority is to solve the problem of energy insecurity as quickly as possible, to give as many people as possible access to electricity. And this will require a combination of different technologies and solutions. Gas-fired power stations are part of the solutions. And it will also require cooperation and partnerships between the different actors, technology providers, developers, governments, to accelerate the impact.
In Morocco, the issue is different, less focused on catching up and access to electricity for all. What are your activities in the country?
Yes, for Morocco and North Africa the issue is not managing energy insecurity. Access to electricity and production capacities are well developed. Morocco is a good example of a country that has had a very clear strategy in favour of renewable energy. It is now aiming for 50% of its energy production to come from renewables. Siemens Energy is involved in the supply of turbines for the solar thermodynamic power plants (CSP) of the Noor mega solar complex. There are also numerous projects in connection with Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy in wind energy. (Editor’s note: Siemens Energy is a majority shareholder). We also have discussions on gas with Morocco and hydrogen, even if it should be noted that the development is still in its infancy. The technologies to develop the use of hydrogen will require a lot of investment and commitment from many parties, Moroccan and foreign. But it is clear that Morocco’s geographical position makes it a key country for the European Union, which has a strong hydrogen and renewable energy strategy.
Published in Jeune Afrique, Africa Business+ on 31 January, 2022: https://www.africabusinessplus.com/en/810949/siemens-energy-africa-md-nadja-haakansson-we-are-in-discussions-with-namibia-south-africa-and-others-for-hydrogen-projects/