African energy sector calls for “just” energy transition amid climate change

An African energy event namely African Energy Week kicked off Tuesday in Cape Town, legislative capital of South Africa, with a call on “just” energy transition, instead of abandoning fossil fuels.

“We are going to have an energy transition, there is no question about that, but it has to be just, and we are not going to apologize for that,” NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of African Energy Chamber, a platform for Africa’s indigenous companies in energy sector, said in the opening session.

He called on African countries to stand together to drive the energy transition better.

Industrialized nations who needed the fossil fuels ignored and suppressed concerns as early as the 1900’s that emissions from fossil fuels were affecting the climate, but when they have succeeded in developing a century later, “people suddenly remembered that these fossil fuels are bad,” said Omar Farouk Ibrahim, Secretary General of the continental energy organization, African Petroleum Producers’ Organization (APPO).

“While not denying the changing climate and Africa’s contribution, why must we abandon fossil fuel resources and fail to make use of these resources like the developed nations already have,” he said, adding that it is only fair that the world works with Africa, especially in oil and gas, to enhance fossil fuels in a practical manner to make them environmentally friendly.

While Africa is committed to low carbon emissions even net zero emissions, it does so within the reality of energy that guarantee national economic growth, development and industrialization, said Gwede Mantashe, South African Minister of Mineral Resource and Energy.

“The way forward is for Africa to make the most of its existing and applicable resources,” said Mantashe, adding that all energy sources, concomitant technologies, minerals for low carbon emissions and an industrial complex sensitive to Africa’s development needs, constitute the most appropriate agenda for a “just energy transition.”

Namibian Minister of Mines and Energy Tom Alweendo called for an inclusive, equitable and just global energy transition.

While listing efforts that Namibia has made in renewable energy, he said Namibia’s position is not to suffocate itself by cutting off potential oil and gas resources that could assist in solving its energy problems.

The conference heard that green hydrogen presents a huge opportunity for Africa to compete in global green energy markets in the future.

Other senior officials including energy ministers of South Sudan, Republic of the Congo, Niger, Equatorial Guinea, Libya and industry delegates are present at African Energy Chamber’s four-day conference, which seeks to unite African energy stakeholders, drive industry growth and development, and promote Africa as the destination for African-focused events.