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Is Africa’s natural gas the answer to power Africa? A policy Approach

Natural gas is considered as a transition fuel that can help to meet long-term

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Natural gas is considered as a transition fuel that can help to meet long-term climate needs in the transition of energy. Increased demand of the fuel has grown, solid growth and new discovery of natural gas are emerging. Natural gas can be used for electricity generation, industry and domestic use. Hence, increasing gas demand across Africa require an expansion and strengthening of the gas network infrastructure to enable cross border trading. Therefore, policy briefs can assist policy makers to understand how gas production and consumption has developed across Africa in the half century, to inform policy opportunity for the future.

On October 18 2021, the African Energy Commission (AFREC) launched a Policy Brief on “Natural Gas in the African Energy Landscape” and presented findings, highlighting the importance of Natural Gas within the African energy mix. The brief also narrated some recommendations for further consideration by Member States, Regional Economic Communities and other African Institutions.

This is the first of four (4) series of policy briefs being produced by AFREC this year, aiming to shed light on the energy situation in Africa. Other series which have been produced and yet to be launched to member states are on Biomass, Energy usage for business, Refinery and oil products

In her keynote address, the Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Her Excellency Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, who launched the Policy brief to the member states highlighted that Seventeen (17) African countries in Africa are producers of natural gas, seven are net exporters while seven are net importers. Additionally, 40% of global new natural gas discoveries in the last ten years are in Africa, mainly Senegal, Mauritania, Mozambique, Tanzania, and other countries. However, over 45% of natural gas production in Africa is exported and the contribution of natural gas in the continental energy balance is minimal.

‘‘Low access to affordable clean energy in Africa remains one of the biggest challenges facing our continent. Hence, Africa’s Agenda 2063 highlight the need to enhance regional and continental efforts, for accelerated and integrated infrastructure development in Africa, through high-level policy development and engagement, consensus building, promotion of regional integration to support the development of energy resources in Africa’’ She stressed.

Natural gas is one of the fossil fuels considered as clean energy, especially for gas to power and for cleaning cooking technologies and will play a central and important role in the African energy transition process. It is also one of the energy fuels which Africa can carefully consider as a significant value addition for accelerating regional and inter-continental cross-border trading by developing gas pipelines between African Countries.

“the launch holds an important contribution on conversation around energy transition ahead of the COP26 to be held in November in Glasgow, UK and that, the policy brief on natural gas provides valuable data on the use and potential of the resource as a transition fuel for power generation, to help reduce Africa CO2 emissions” said Mr Wale Shonibare, Director Energy Financial Solutions, Policy and Regulation, speaking on behalf of H.E. Dr. Kevin Kariuki, Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate & Green Growth of the African Development Bank(AfDB).

The meeting was also addressed by H.E Mr. Mohamed Arkab, Minister of Energy and Mining of Algeria, H.E Mr. Max Tonela, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy of Mozambique, H.E Hon. Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Minister of Energy of Ghana, H.E Mr. Oumar Torbo Djarma, Minister of Oil and Mine of Chad, H.E. Eng. Mohamed Mehemed Oun, Minister of Oil and Gas, Sate of Libya and Mr Issa Dione, Chief of Staff on behalf of H.E Mrs Sophie Gladima, Minister of Oil and Energy of Senegal.

In their collective remarks, Honourable ministers emphasised Africa’s need to develop its African domestic market for natural gas, by building robust infrastructure that can distribute gas through pipelines across the continent. They also called for combined efforts, share experiences and mobilise efforts collectively. They further recommended that Africa needs to have a common position in its Energy Transition agenda by taking in account its realities and by adopting an approach for social and economic transformation in a climate compatible to ensure a transition that is just for all Africans.

Some of the key main reflections emerging from the panel discussions included:

  • Natural gas has the potential to accelerate development on the African continent, fight poverty and bridge energy accessibility gap.
  • The development and trade of natural gas in Africa has the potential to create jobs through industrialization, contribute to strong economic growth, whilst taking into consideration the CO2 emission, which Africa is the lowest contributor of about 3%.
  • Africa should develop a roadmap/blueprint to develop an African market for natural Gas
  • Natural Gas has a low cost of efficiency compared to other fossil fuel. Hence, Africa’s natural gas can be harnessed to power the continent at a wider scale.

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