Africa must use gas reserves to drive economy, industry officials say

Published Tue, Nov 1, 2022 · 08:23 PM

AFRICAN countries need to use their gas reserves to lift more people out of poverty and build industry, even while the world seeks to cut emissions, some industry officials said on Tuesday (Oct 31).

Renewables could play a major role in Africa’s energy supply in future, but African governments say they need fossil fuels for baseload power generation for industry.

Africa holds around 13 per cent of the world’s natural gas and 7 per cent of its oil, but has the lowest per-capita energy use globally.

Osama Mobarez, secretary-general of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, told Reuters at an energy conference in Abu Dhabi that Africa accounted for about 3 per cent of global energy consumption, and less than 3 per cent of emissions.

“Africa needs to have better living standards, and at the same time, several African countries during the last few years have discovered a lot of gas, and they need to develop this gas to have better lives for their people and also for industrialisation,” he said.

Analysts have said that Africa needs to build oil and gas pipelines, liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, distribution hubs and gas-fired power plants over the next 20 years to unlock its energy market with more than 600 million people.

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A report by consultancy McKinsey said energy demand in the region is expected to grow rapidly over the next two decades, rising 30 per cent from today’s levels, compared with a 10 per cent rise globally.

US climate envoy John Kerry has cautioned against long-term oil and gas infrastructure investment in Africa, urging countries to turn to renewables instead.

The continent is home to 60 per cent of the best solar resources globally, with just 1 per cent of installed solar capacity.

But some industry officials said renewables would not be enough to help Africa catch up with more developed nations, which had relied on hydrocarbons in their own industrialisation drives.

“Wind and solar is not going to help Africa industrialise. They need to have access to hydrocarbons. There is a sense in which it is an unjust transition for Africa,” Joseph McMonigle, secretary-general of the International energy Forum, told the conference. REUTERS

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