Africa’s call for a just and inclusive energy transition has been answered through the European Union’s landmark proposal to label natural gas as a ‘green’ energy source. Historically, Africa has always fought for sustainable development because we know, first-hand, the ravaging effects that even minute changes in climate can have on the continent and its populations. But to develop sustainably, Africa must first industrialize itself. It must have the same opportunities as Europe and other western countries. The point that natural gas serves as a transitional energy source is one that has been promoted by African nations for a long time and therefore, the African Energy Chamber hails the EU’s proposal as a landmark development that justifies a positive outlook for an inclusive energy transition.
It has taken a crisis in energy availability to bring about policies that could increase Africa’s energy supply. The current pressure from The West to acclimatize to cleaner energy systems has so far been exclusive in recognizing that the transition may differ in form and timing from one region to another. By restricting investment into energy sources, such as gas, Africa has stood the chance of being left behind during the energy transition, which is counterproductive and regressive.
“We have had our disagreements with our European friends, however, there has always been constructive, behind-the-scenes dialogue with European policy makers. They listened, worked, and let us make the case for Africa’s low-carbon LNG and these discussions have been critical in getting us to see eye-to-eye on gas, a lot of work still needs to be done to make this a reality” stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, who added, “The demonization of Africa’s gas industry needs to stop, and investments need to come into the sector. While we continue this engagement, it is important that the oil and gas industry focuses its investment on further reducing carbon emissions within the gas value chain. Sustainable development and making energy poverty history will require Africa to increase gas within its energy mix, which will give us a fighting chance to reduce the continent’s carbon footprint, even when we are still under 4% of global emissions.”
Africa faces unique challenges and must be allowed to time its own energy transition according to its own needs. The proposal to label natural gas as ‘green’ energy is what a just energy transition looks like, and now, we need to finance it. To capitalize on this, the African Green Energy Summit, to be held at African Energy Week this year, will clearly outline initiatives and positions ahead of this year’s COP27.
Now, at the dawn of a new year, Europe and Africa can collaborate and cooperate and stride in allegiance towards a brighter future. The two continents can set aside their differences and strive towards sustainable development together, paving the way for a new approach to Africa’s energy industry, one that serves the whole world and all its people as opposed to a privileged few. Should most EU members back the proposal, then it will become law from 2023, which the African Energy Chamber hopes will stand to help the U.S. recognize natural gas as a clean fuel, which it unfortunately does not under the Biden Administration’s current clean power plans.