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About the Natural Resources and Energy team

We have a fast-growing natural resources and energy practice that supports low- and middle-income countries to meet their energy and extractives objectives.

Maja Jakobsen

Natural Resources and Energy team leader

OPM United Kingdom

Maja Jakobsen is an economist who provides leadership to our Natural Resources and Energy team. Her expertise is in the developmental impacts of natural resource sectors, regionally and nationally. She has worked with industry actors, as well as governments, foundations and NGOs, to contribute to knowledge development and policy and regulatory …

Simon Trace

Principle consultant

OPM United Kingdom

Simon Trace brings 35 years’ experience working in international development, specialising in access to basic energy services, natural resource management, and technology.

Ashira Perera

Assistant consultant

OPM United Kingdom

Ashira Perera  brings economic expertise and specialises in providing policy support and conducting research on issues related energy and extractives.

Kenneth C. Ene

Programme manager

OPM Nigeria

Kenneth Ene  is based in the Nigeria office and brings extensive experience in project management, specialising in strategic planning, financial management, and monitoring and evaluation.

Caroline Thuo

Programme manager

OPM Nigeria

Caroline Thuo   is based in Nairobi and specialises in project management around program cycle management, grants management, and organisation systems strengthening.

Improving energy access

Energy is fundamental to lifting people out of poverty. Today one billion people are still without access to electricity and three billion without access to clean cooking technology – and, the seventh Sustainable Development Goal targets around universal energy access stands to be missed by a significant margin. Our work contributes to closing this gap, helping people overcome barriers to energy access through for example bespoke financial services. We understand the challenges countries face in expanding access to energy – across rural and urban settings.

We acknowledge that energy access will continue to be improved through both renewable and non-renewable energy provision. Solar home systems are a great solution for stepping up access to electricity, whereas liquid petroleum gas stoves provides the good option for clean cooking in many poor households.

Our work in energy access focus on finding the best balance between off-grid and grid energy solutions to improve energy provision, keeping in mind the end goal of more reliable, more affordable and more sustainable energy access for more people.

Strengthening energy policy and planning

Our extensive experience across the policy cycle put us in a unique position to advice governments on key challenges to making national energy markets function better. We have first-hand experience of how energy policy is an integral part of any country's overall development policy framework. We understand that energy policy is fundamentally driven by choices relating to broad economic development and, in particular, a country’s industrial policy.

Our work focuses on strengthening sector capabilities, improving the policy and regulatory environment and aiding the national energy planning process. We recognise that these are key areas that needs to be addressed to ensure that the supply mix matches people and industry’s demand for energy.

We know that countries work towards clean and sustainable energy uses but in the short to medium term this will involve reliance on a combination of renewable and non-renewable energy sources as well as off-grid and grid solutions. Our experience covers the breadth of different energy provisions, which gives us a strong foundation for providing balanced advice on policy development.

Enabling extractives governance reform

We have extensive experience bringing about governance reform in the extractives sector. Through our first-hand experience of delivering policy change, we fully understand the complexities of the sector – but accept the challenge of bringing about sustainable change.

We work on governance issues in the extractives sector to improve development outcome. Ambitions to use natural resource wealth to meet social and economic development goals are often met with skepticism – understandably, as they have failed so often in the past. Yet the opportunity is real. In many countries extractives revenues are larger than aid flows.

We work across the extractives value chain from the discovery of resources in the ground to investment of extractives revenues in economic and human development. In close collaboration with governments, civil society and industry, we focus on making the transformation of resources benefit the people, putting in place appropriate economic policy and developing institutional capacity. Our work in extractives governance benefit from OPM’s ‘thinking and working politically’ approach, building on our leadership in political economy analysis to provide clients with robust, locally-driven, and flexible delivery models.

Resource-led development

Our work takes a holistic approach to the opportunities that extractives presents to a country. Benefits of extractives goes beyond revenues and public spending, our work also focus on strengthening linkages between the sector and the rest of the economy, and developing appropriate industrial policy measures.

Our work focuses on enabling governments, industry, and communities to take advantage of these non-revenue linkages. It presents a great opportunity for job creation, but reaping the benefits often require improvements in other areas such as a better investment climate, stronger education systems, and clear industrial policy.

For depletable resources to play a sustainable developmental role, countries need to diversify. We work with governments to identify, promote, and develop strategies towards other productive economic activities, evidently central to the extractives agenda.

Extractives can also serve as an input other productive activities, providing the basis for example gas-based industrialisation. We also work with governments to take advantage of such benefits to strengthen its industry base.