Tackling Energy Poverty Requires a ‘Gas is Good for Africa’ Approach [GGP]
While developed nations call for the end of fossil fuel utilization in the name of climate change, Africa still faces its biggest challenge yet: energy poverty. In 2022, over 600 million people lack access to electricity and over 900 million lack access to clean cooking solutions, with even more people falling into extreme poverty following the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic. However, to date, over 620 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas has been discovered in Africa, with a further 300 tcf expected to be revealed in the upcoming years. This clean, accessible and widely available resource offers the solution to Africa’s energy crisis, and as such, various African stakeholders have been committed to the narrative that ‘gas is good for Africa.’
On the first day of the MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power conference this week in Dakar, H.E. Macky Sall, President of Senegal and Chairperson of the African Union explained that, “It would be an aberration to give up the exploitation of our resources while more than 600 million Africans still live in the dark…even if Africa exploited all of its current gas discoveries over 30 years, its cumulative emissions would represent barely 3.5% of global emissions. What counts in the end is that the exploitation of our resources is done in the best conditions of transparency and efficiency, for the improvement of the conditions of our populations and the progress of our countries. This is our duty.”
For Africa, the benefits of gas are multifold. In addition to producing far less emissions than coal and oil, the ability of the resource to electrify the continent, kickstart industrialization and unlock new opportunities for socioeconomic growth on the back of job creation, domestic market resurgence and multi-sector development is unparalleled.
“African countries need a reliable energy supply to provide the livelihoods to their people…in harnessing our oil and gas resources, we can reap the economic benefits that come with eradicating energy poverty. We can grow and diversify our economies; we can industrialize our economies; we will create well-paying jobs for our citizens and create opportunities for our private sector companies and entrepreneurs,” Hon. Tom Alweendo, Namibia’s Minister of Mines and Energy expressed.
This year, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has enhanced interest by international destinations in African gas projects, with the European Commission going as far as labelling gas as green. While Africa has been calling for this association for years, a looming energy crisis overseas has altered global energy plans. However, before Africa exports to Europe, the continent should capitalize and utilize its own resources for the good of its own development.
“The most secure market for African producers is Africa,” stated H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea, adding that, “To secure our future and reduce energy poverty, we need to create energy security. If we want more power in Africa, we need to stop talking about helping Europe. We need to focus on what Africa needs and then look externally.”
The need for widespread adoption of gas in Africa has driven continental stakeholders to push for an Africa-centric energy transition strategy, one in which gas continues to play a key role. While global stakeholders may object to the role of gas, the benefits the resource brings to Africa is unmatched. As H.E. Bruno Jean-Richard Itoua, Minister of Hydrocarbons of the Republic of Congo, stated, “There doesn’t need to be anymore debate about gas. We need to stop wasting time discussing why gas is the solution. We need to start producing as much as we can now.”
“It is our chance to be a catalyst for change. It is our chance to stand with Woodside and Kosmos and explore more. As we move to COP27, we have an amazing opportunity to never back down on gas. Gas is going to shape Africa, help us monetize and create more value for our economies. Let’s not back down on an industry that has been the driver of human civilization, that has ensured longer lives, more medicine, new opportunities, roads, buildings and so much more. We need to stand up and back Africa’s right to grow,” stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber during his opening remarks.
Discussions during MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power 2022 will continue during the biggest pan-African energy event in Cape Town, African Energy Week 2022 – which takes place from October 18-21 this year. Following MSGBC 2022, African energy ministers, global investors, as well as public and private sector executives will be driving the gas is good for Africa narrative in Cape Town, under the theme, ‘Exploring and Investing in Africa’s Energy Future while Driving an Enabling Environment.’
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