Europe scrambles for African gas

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“If global environmentalists call for an immediate end to fossil fuel use, developing countries in Africa will suffer economically and socially,” the energy agency found in a report…reports Asian Lite News

Caught in an energy crisis and hungry for alternatives to Russian gas, European leaders have spent months eyeing fossil fuel projects across Africa.

Their counterparts are willing to sell.

Senegal and Mauritania are planning to ship liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Germany. The Senegalese government expects to supply Europe’s biggest economy with 2.5 million tons of gas from 2023 and as much as 10 million tons by 2030. The African Union is pushing for more energy infrastructure, including fossil gas. Countries like South Africa and Tanzania are home to untouched fields that could net them billions of dollars.

“This is indeed a great moment for Africa,” African Union Executive Director Rashid Ali Abdallah said. “It’s not just Europe, there are global crises and Africa can help meet global demand.”

So far, just 6% of the world’s fossil gas is produced in Africa, a continent where climate change is wreaking havoc on crops and homes and 600 million people do not have access to electricity. From Nigeria to Egypt and Algeria to Mozambique, countries across the continent are pushing to extract more gas – for both them and Europeans to burn.

“Africa has woken up and we are going to exploit our natural resources,” said Ugandan Energy Minister Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu ahead of the COP27 climate conference in Egypt.

The 55 member states of the African Union have adopted a common position to promote the expansion of energy infrastructure. The African Energy Commission, the agency responsible for coordinating energy policy across the continent, has made a case for gas and nuclear to play a decisive role in development alongside renewable sources.

“If global environmentalists call for an immediate end to fossil fuel use, developing countries in Africa will suffer economically and socially,” the energy agency found in a report.

But stopping the planet from heating 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial temperatures — the level to which world leaders promised to halt global warming by the end of the century — does not allow for further exploration of oil and gas fields, according to the International Energy Agency, an organization led by energy ministers mostly from rich countries. Cutting emissions quickly enough would mean that by 2035, just 5% of electricity would be made by burning fossil gas unchecked.

Environmentalists have warned rich countries against negotiating new gas supplies with African counterparts during the climate summit. Representatives of environmental nonprofit groups Powershift Africa, Greenpeace and Climate Action Network said the summit risks becoming a festival of greenwashing.

Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a think tank based in Nairobi, told journalists at the conference in Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday that Europe was trying to make Africa its “gas station” but not giving enough money for renewable energy.

“We cannot allow Africa, which has missed out on fossil fuel-driven industrialization, to now become the victim of short-sighted, selfish colonialist interests, especially from Europe.” 

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