In the more remote parts of East and Central Africa, economic growth can be challenging to stimulate. There have been few incentives for communities to receive outside investment or for neighbouring countries to strike up trade. In part, an answer to the problem lies in energy storage, supply and distribution, and the opportunities that fuelling solutions can bring to hard-to-reach areas.
Energy supply and development go hand in hand, so much so that to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all is a UN Sustainable Development Goal.
It is easy to understand why. Energy is the foundation upon which a modern economy builds. It fuels the power plant that generates electricity for the manufacturer, who then relies on the fully fuelled truck to transport goods from Mombasa to Gulu or Dar es salaam to Goma.
There are countless positive knock-on effects for the businesses, communities and individuals involved in this complex supply chain. It is something that Dalbit, which will reach its twentieth year in business this year, has witnessed time and again: the power of energy to fuel regional development.
This is why it is frustrating to see a lack of nuance surrounding the international debate on energy. Some believe the balance has tipped too far in favour of decarbonisation at all costs. Instead, we should be taking a more measured approach, balancing energy access and sustainability. Dalbit, of course, believes fully in a zero-carbon future.
As an energy business, we understand better than anyone else how substandard energy infrastructure, from storage to distribution, prevents countries from reaching their full potential. Looking back at our successes – and failures – over the past twenty years, it is crystal clear how transformational access to energy, enabled by reliable infrastructure, can be.
Returning to the issue of transporting goods, we have been lucky enough to add over 1 million litres of Jet A-1 fuel storage capacity for two airports - Gulu and Arua - in Uganda since 2018. Planes can now touch down and refuel in these two airports, rather than covering the extra distance to Kampala en route to South Sudan, saving time and money. Fuelling solutions have provided a connectivity link with neighbouring countries, boosting investor confidence, and opening up business areas.
We are currently working to construct a storage facility in Dar es Salaam that will transform landlocked Zambia’s fuel supply. Crucially, increasing storage capacity will boost the supply of fuel, helping alleviate fuel shortages, which is vital for the sustainable development of Zambia. To ensure local capacity building, we conduct technology and knowledge transfer central to the project, which complements both Zambia and Tanzania’s efforts to grow their economies.
But it is not just about business; access to energy is also vital in delivering aid. We have proudly worked alongside the humanitarian organisations, fuelling planes that deliver emergency food assistance to Gulu and Goma in Uganda and the DRC, respectively. Thousands of malnourished children have since been given the nutrient-rich food they need so dearly.
This is one of the founding principles on which Dalbit was founded: to fuel regional growth and development. From humble beginnings, we are fortunate to supply energy to over ten countries across east and southern Africa, hoping to enter new markets soon.
And despite the hype surrounding renewable technologies and their potential in Africa, we firmly believe traditional fuel storage and distribution will remain a vital part of any country’s energy network. We look forward to contributing to the national development of even more countries over the next 20 years.
This does not mean that innovation and pushing boundaries are not central pillars to the green energy transformation of the continent. As LNG continues its emergence as a leading ‘bridge fuel’, we are investing in our business to adapt for this next step, ultimately helping countries move towards a low-carbon development path. Fundamentally, however, this will never come at the expense of delivery for our customers, allowing us to fulfil our mission to supply energy that fuels development consistently.
Article written by Timothy Skudi, CEO Dalbit Affiliates and published on PI Magazine.