While Africa’s climate ambition and the drive towards net zero emissions must be relentless, the continent’s energy transition cannot be identical to the rest of the world and needs pragmatic solutions, considering the energy need for industrialization.
This was the position of stakeholders in a paper titled, ‘Africa’s energy transition calls for pragmatic measures to keep the continent competitive’ by the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, Vera Songwe, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, Damilola Ogunbiyi and Commission for Infrastructure & Energy, African Union Commission, Amani Abou-Zeid.
According to the paper, climate change is already impacting African economies disproportionately, even though the continent has contributed the least to global warming, with a share of only 3.9 per cent of global fossil fuel emissions in 2020. In fact, excluding South Africa and North African countries, the rest of Africa contributes only one per cent of these emissions.
The stakeholders noted that Africa must urgently overcome the challenges to unlocking gas as the critical transition fuel for its economic ‘renaissance’, energy access, industrialization, climate ambition, and recovery from COVID-19.
The paper’s position further reiterates the stance of the Federal Government that Nigeria and other African countries need gas as transition fuel to drive industrialisation, insisting that no country in the world has been able to industrialize using renewable energy.
Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, in his remark at the Infrastructure Solutions Summit organised by the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) recently, said we (Africa) have been asked to industrialize using renewable energy, when everybody else in the world knows that we need gas-powered industries for business.
Osinbajo said, “No country in the world has been able to industrialize using renewable energy and we (Africa) have been asked to industrialize using renewable energy when everybody else in the world knows that we need gas-powered industries for business.
“We need to have investments in fossil fuels. we need energy access for development. I am sure the force of the logic will make it inevitable for African leaders to see that it is actually the way to go.
“We actually need to create room for investments, not just in natural gas for export, but for cooking and for industry. So, I think that the sheer force of the logic of using gas to benefit our communities will make it inevitable for us to invest in fossil fuels.”
With the ongoing Ukraine crisis raising uncertainty in Europe’s already skyrocketing gas market, the stakeholders in their paper noted that there is an opportunity for Africa’s gas market to develop to fill this gap and serve domestic and international markets.
“Africa, with its rich gas reserves, would need to attract investments towards achieving this renaissance.
“The Ukraine crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the climate crises put Africa at a new development crossroad from which, with the right leadership and support in defining and designing its energy mix, it can proceed to attain its development aspirations for a peaceful and prosperous Africa that leaves no one behind, while contributing to keeping climate change at bay”, they added.