Promoting the Role of Natural Gas in Africa

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Image: GECF

With climate change and the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions a key topic in global energy dialogue, stakeholders and policymakers have been engaging in a debate on the role of natural gas in the world’s energy future. In pursuit of clarity around the role of gas, the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) virtual workshop on the promotion of natural gas demand 2021, held on Wednesday September 29, emphasized the value of gas in increasing energy access and driving socio-economic development, with the resource considered a key solution to mitigating climate change through the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the primary takeaways from the workshop was that Africa needs natural gas. With developed countries granted the opportunity to utilize natural resources to drive development, Africa should be allowed to do the same, and thus, while keeping in mind the current climate crisis, the continent and its stakeholders have reaffirmed their commitment to exploiting the continent’s significant natural gas resources to drive socio-economic growth in a clean, and increasingly sustainable way.

“Natural gas has never been more important to global society and until there is new energy technology, the core message should be that gas works. Climate change is not only a challenge but an opportunity. Climate debate should be seen as a positive driver for natural gas demand, particularly in industrialized markets. I do not believe that natural gas should be in competition with renewable energy. Without battery storage renewables are inherently intermittent and natural gas provides a low cost, low emitting source over a long duration,” stated Joe M. Kang, President of International Gas Union.

“If Africa had discovered natural gas before crude oil, we would have been able to develop faster than we have already seen. We need to make our voices heard and they need to be heard now, tomorrow and in the future. We need to tell African stories about how gas will change our future and how it will change our continent. With 600 million plus people without access to electricity, energy poverty is real. It is not just a catch phrase,” noted NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber.

With significant resources across the continent – Mozambique has over 100 trillion cubic feet of gas while Nigeria has over 200 – Africa can use natural gas as a key driver of long-term and sustainable socio-economic growth. With a focus on reducing foreign aid and establishing energy independence across the continent, stakeholders are turning to gas monetization and developments.

“I think the GECF, with its focus and engagement, will not only shape GECF member states but the entire African continent and world at large. Gone are the days when we have to rely on aid in Africa. We have massive gas resources that can drive development and reshape our economies, and when we talk about a just transition, Africa needs gas,” continued Ayuk.

In pursuit of a strong, domestic natural gas market, many countries across the continent are overhauling their regulatory systems, introducing market-driven policies, and positioning themselves as attractive investment destinations in order to enhance developments. According to Ayuk, “We are making a lot of changes across the African continent. Nigeria, for example, has passed the Petroleum Industry Bill and despite taking 20 years, it is better late than never. The Bill will drive a lot of incentives and investment into natural gas in the country.”

With global environmentalists and developed nations calling for the immediate end to fossil fuel utilization, developing countries in Africa have a lot to lose. Accordingly, Africa’s needs and resources are often rejected due to unilateral decisions that fail to consider the continent’s socio-developmental needs.

“Look at Mozambique. Mozambique has gone from nothing to potentially being the third largest natural gas producer in the world. How dare we look at them and tell them to leave it in the ground. What gas can do for Mozambique, as well as the 600 million without access in Africa is what we should be looking at. With natural gas, we see hope, especially with our young people. These young people will be able to work in a gas driven economy and find a hope and a future in Africa. Let us come back to reality, let us be driven by science and driven by hope that we can use our resources,” added Ayuk.

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Charné Hollands

Charné Hollands

Charné Hollands is the Deputy Editor at Energy Capital & Power. She holds a Higher Certificate in Professional Photography and Masters in Media Studies from the University of Cape Town. Charné writes content for ECP's website and events as well as co-authored African Energy Chamber: Road to Recovery.

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