Our journey in Africa

 By Simonetta Sandri

From the “Mattei formula” to today’s “dual flag” strategy, we will take you on a journey through words and numbers, the story of our road to sustainability in Africa. Because even numbers have a soul. And behind those numbers, there are always stories and people. Or rather, stories about people…

(Click to enlarge the infographics below)

Africa, for Eni, is the past, the present and the future. Our Africa is the one, which we have experienced, as pioneers, and the one, which today continues to shape our experiences as partners of countries where we have established lasting relationships, understanding and respecting their societies and cultures and their diversity. A presence in a continent, which supplies more than half of Eni’s crude oil and natural gas production, a share which is increasing thanks to the successes of recent prospecting campaigns. In these complex times, the energy industry is faced with a twin challenge: ensuring that the world’s growing population, due to increase from 7 to more than 11 billion people by 2100, has access to low cost energy and, at the same time, making sure that this is achieved in an environmentally sustainable way.
But what is sustainability? It is a genuine awareness that the world has changed, that we all share a common home.
There is a truly enormous number of variables to consider. These range from the future growth of the world’s population, particularly in Africa, via climate change, to energy access, which is the only real driver for development. Underpinning it all is the human factor. Us.

And, in this content, in Eni we have decided to position ourselves by investing in this human factor, the added value provided by the contribution of people (through knowledge and skills transfer) and by empowering the talents of the communities. The decision to create added value over the long term has led to investments of more than 8 billion euro in 16 countries. This is sustainability.

On the other hand, people do not flee from a country just because they want to but because they have no choice. So a change of course and of pace is needed, for all, for an all-encompassing vision.
Which brings us to the three pillars of a sustainable Eni, on which “our Africa” is built: the road to decarbonisation, the cooperation model, the operating model. The basis for the road to decarbonisation is the realisation of the need to limit the increase in global temperatures by the end of the century to less than 2°C compared with pre-industrial levels. The story is centred around the commitments to reduce our direct emissions, the development of renewable sources to sit alongside natural gas and investments in research and development (R&D) to limit indirect emissions. This has led to a change in the energy mix, with a focus on renewables and a transition which could only be produced by gas. To diversify the energy mix in this difficult transition to a low-carbon future, work in the renewable energy field led to the commencement, in 2016, of projects in Africa and Asia to improve energy efficiency and contribute to the social and economic development of these important business areas. And with a look at matters closer to home, and revamping and revitalising abandoned areas
Bridging the gap to renewables has only been and can only be achieved with gas. Even in Brussels, they know this well
We have repeated why the best choice to protect our planet and to combat climate change is to use gas, also for generating electricity. We believe in the opportunity that the eastern Mediterranean can derive from the recent discoveries of gas in its rich and deep offshore areas. This is also the life blood which drives our consolidated operating model, keeping a close eye on the environment. To coincide with World Environment Day, the first Safety & Environment Day was held by Eni, which awarded a prize to VICO Indonesia for its commitment in a project in Indonesian Borneo.

The operating model, as well as the cooperation model, looks after people. There are so many stories of up-and-coming women in technical and scientific fields, who work on onshore and offshore operations, and in research areas. Stories of women who travel with different experiences, who, during their lunch breaks, sip a cup of tea in the desert, who capture the depths of the faces encountered during their long journey. Journeys which are all-female. Then there are the women in the theatre: actresses or audience members for whom Eni Foundation has launched the theatre and health education projects “The theatre is good for you” teaching people not be afraid of hospitals. In other countries like Kenya, not far from our prospecting work, on the island of Pate, we retraced the steps of the Ming dynasty and, in north-eastern Algeria, we were captivated by the emotions of rediscovering the stories of a shared Mediterranean.
People continue to be at the heart of the story: human capital as integration, dialogue, cooperation and mutual enrichment which is derived, above all, from diversity.
Now we come to explore the last but not least of our three pillars: the cooperation model.
We mentioned, at the beginning, the importance for the development of Africa of access to energy. We have always invested in building energy generation infrastructure which fosters the development of local markets. Today, for example, in the Mediterranean, we supply virtually all of the gas required for running Libya’s power stations, more than 5 billion m3 per year, covering domestic requirements. In Egypt, where all of the gas produced by the company remains in the country, Eni will contribute to creating the conditions for energy independence, with the development of the Zohr field.
In 2016, Eni supplied 48 billion m3 of gas to local markets, across 14 countries.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, we are the leading generator of electricity, contributing to improvements in energy access for the local population with benefits for the environment in terms of reducing emissions from gas flaring. As has been achieved by the Kwale Okpai power station in Nigeria. In the same vein, the onshore project in ‘Mboundi, Congo, which ended in March 2014, allowed us to make full use of the associated gas extracted, which was previously flared off.

But the cooperation model is not just about access to energy, it is also about local development projects, where matters such as education and access to water are important factors. Education is the main road out of poverty. An example for all is the Iraqi school Janat Al Barjisia, and the signature of an agreement to promote high-quality education in the Zubair district. Then there is the pilot project Aprendemos brincando in Paquitequete, in the district of Pemba in Mozambique, and the work in the Dadaab camp in Kenya, the largest refugee camp in the world, where Eni has installed more than 40kW of solar power, lighting 11 primary schools.

We have continued the journey in Ghana, where in 2012 Eni Foundation launched a project to support the health of mothers and children in the Western Region of the country: providing healthcare where previously there was none. Progress continues with water, a precious asset, vital for life and wellbeing, as well as for creating jobs and human and social economic development. We have ventured along the sun-drenched roads of the Congo, exploring Hinda’s 22 drinking water wells. We have gone back to the extreme environment in Pakistan and told about the work in the village of Palma in Mozambique, along with the water wells created since 2014 in the County of Lamu, in Kenya and the attempts of young disabled people in Algeria to derive an income from recycling plastic bottles. Because “one step at a time, life can change.” And improve…

SEE MORE: “Life is changing…” by Eniday Staff

about the author
Simonetta Sandri