Africa’s natural gas resources provide the continent with an opportunity to speed up the energy transition, reduce emissions and deforestation while at the same time addressing energy security
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: Despite having 620 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, Africa’s over reliance on wood-based biomass energy remains high, resulting in an increase in land degradation, deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions, and in over 900 million people across the continent living without access to clean cooking.
However, if fully optimized and exploited, the continent’s natural gas resources present an opportunity for Africa to address environmental destruction, ensure clean cooking for its population while also guaranteeing energy security and economic growth.
With over 81% of households in sub-Saharan Africa relying on wood-based biomass energy for cooking, the World Health Organization has linked millions of deaths in rural Africa to indoor emissions resulting from the continued and increased use of biomass.
In this regard, countries such as Nigeria, Malawi, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe, where biomass use is particularly high due to limited access to reliable electricity, could expand the exploitation of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to ensure clean cooking for the population while also improving energy access.
With over 600 million in Africa living in energy poverty, resulting in increased use of wood-based biomass to meet daily energy needs, expanding the continent’s gas market will help accelerate electrification while reducing stress on the national grid.
South Africa has taken a bold move in this regard with the government recently approving the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s LPG Rollout Strategy, designed to leverage LPG to diversify the energy mix for energy security, affordability and decarbonization reasons.
With Africa seeking to achieve universal access to energy, the continued reliance on wood-based biomass remains a threat to improving energy access. With the United Nations Environment Programme predicting that over 65% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa will still rely on wood fuel for cooking by 2050, the time for Africa to invest more in its gas market is now.
Furthermore, with the reliance on biomass, the continent’s industrialisation and economic growth is limited. Biomass represents an inadequate energy resource to power industry, hence, the need for Africa to prioritize the development and expansion of its gas market to fuel its industries while improving energy access and championing its climate stewardship is clear, now more than ever.
The African Energy Chamber (AEC), as the voice of the African energy sector, strongly advocates for the scaling up of gas investment and development across Africa, recognizing the role the resource plays in improving energy access and security, while enabling emission and deforestation reduction.
“With the increased use of natural gas, the African continent is well positioned to achieve energy independence, security and decarbonization targets at the same time reducing emissions and the destruction of our forests. Africa needs to come up with new ways to fund and fast-track the exploitation of its gas resources to achieve this.
“Not only will gas help reduce emissions but also provides African governments with much-needed GDP to fund the growth of the overall economy,” stated NJ Ayuk, the Executive Chairman of the AEC.
African Energy Week (AEW) 2022, Africa’s the premier event for the oil and gas sector, which will take place from 18 – 21 October 2022, in Cape Town, will discuss the role of gas in Africa’s energy future.
Under the theme, Exploring and Investing in Africa’s Energy Future while Driving an Enabling Environment, AEW 2022 will host panel discussions and high-level meetings to discuss how Africa can increase investments across its gas value chain to ensure energy security while addressing unsustainable energy practices.
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Lead photo: Marathon Oil Refinery. Photo: Marathon Oil Refinery.