Africa must oppose measures that prevent use of fossil fuels

Africa

The world’s wealthy nations’ green agenda ignores Africa and its unique needs, priorities and challenges, says the African Energy Chamber.

Those advocating for African countries to continue using their oil and gas resources are not ‘ignoring’ the world’s green agenda, says NJ Ayuk of the African Energy Chamber, they are simply not willing to embrace the world’s timetable for transitioning to renewable fuels at the expense of their own energy security and economic well-being.

The green agenda of developed nations further ignores the tremendous role that Africa’s oil and gas industry plays in generating African countries’ revenue. Oil revenues represent at least 20 per cent of GDP in Libya, Algeria, Gabon, Chad, Angola, and The Republic of Congo. In Nigeria, one Africa’s main oil producers, oil represents a more modest percentage of real GDP – about six per cent – however, oil and gas account for 95 per cent of foreign exchange income and 80 per cent of government revenues.

The green agenda of wealthy nations ignores those of us who point out that natural gas has the potential to bring life-changing prosperity to the continent in the form of jobs, business opportunities, capacity building and monetization. It ignores the sustainable, logical path we’re proposing, which is  using our resources, natural gas in particular, to help us meet current needs and to generate revenue that can help pay for our transition to renewables.

The wealthy nations’ green agenda does not consider how much Africa needs natural gas to bring electricity to the growing number of Africans living without it. They do not understand that we, as Africans, are focused on growing Africa’s energy mix to include fossil fuels and renewables, instead of insisting on an all or nothing approach to our energy transition.

Around 600 million Africans lacked access to electricity before the pandemic; and it appears that this figure is growing. According to the International Energy Agency, during 2020 some gains in access were reversed, with as many as 30 million people who previously had access to electricity no longer able to afford it.

A continent that emits a negligible amount of carbon dioxide, at most, three per centof the world’s total, is being disproportionately pegged as a threat to the planet by developed nations.

Energy use on the continent is still very low. So low, in fact, that researchers writing in Foreign Policy magazine estimate that if the one billion people living in sub-Saharan Africa tripled electricity using natural gas, the additional emissions would equal just 0.62 per cent of global carbon dioxide.

Energy use on the continent is so low that the average African consumes less electricity per year than an entire American family’s refrigerator.

Authors Todd Moss and Vijaya Ramachandran, from the Energy for Growth Hub, say the world is greatly overestimating how much natural gas Africa will generate between now and 2030. They cite a study in Nature Energy that claims the forecast for new gas generation in West Africa is five times the region’s new gas potential. Obviously, there’s some mathematical mismatch in the study.

We have to ask ourselves: Will fossil fuel development in Africa signal an end to all of the world’s good intentions and net zero ambitions?  Or is this an example of ‘green colonialism?’

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