Global debate on natural gas and its place in the world’s future energy sector has taken the world by storm, with dialogue dominated by environmentalists calling for the sudden end to the utilization of the resource and developed countries favoring renewable energy investment and developments. Yet, the African position within global dialogue is often negated, and the continent’s needs and resources rejected due to unilateral decisions to abandon fossil fuels. 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 are committed to exploiting its significant natural gas resources to drive socio-economic growth in a clean, and increasingly sustainable way.
Speaking at the Gas Exporting Countries Forum’s (GECF) 4 th edition of the Workshop on the Promotion of Natural Gas Demand on Wednesday the 29 th of September, NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber outlined the African position on natural gas. With the virtual workshop comprising a discussion on how natural gas can serve as a catalyst, not just for enhanced socio-economic growth, but for the global transition to cleaner sources of fuel, Ayuk emphasized the value of the resource for Africa, with natural gas serving as a key driver of the continent’s economic development.
Africa faces challenges that the developed world does not. With over 600 million people lacking access to electricity, and 900 million without access to clean cooking, the continent desperately requires accelerated energy sector growth to meet rising demand and lift millions out of poverty. Natural gas offers the best solution, with its considerably cleaner processes, increasing availability, and attainable technology positioning the resource as Africa’s saving grace.
“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,” stated Ayuk.
Meanwhile, with significant resources across the continent awaiting exploitation and development, Africa has the potential to establish energy security and independence for years to come, reducing the continent’s reliance on foreign aid and accelerating socio-economic growth. However, in order for the continent to realize national growth objectives, a collaborative and integrated approach to resource monetization is required, and both the GECF and the upcoming African Energy Week 2021 (AEW) in Cape Town recognize, and will promote this trend, driving Africa’s energy future.
“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.
“The African continent is blessed with so many natural resources as well as great people – which is actually the most important part. Electricity is fundamental to how modern society and economies grow. We have two problems in Africa: the access problem and the availability problem. About 50% of African countries electricity output is 50% less than demand. With over 600 trillion cubic feet of proven natural reserves in Africa, this presents a clean option to address the continent’s power deficit,” stated Akinwole Omoboriowo II, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Genesis Energy Holding.
Within his keynote speech at the GECF workshop, Ayuk emphasized that the continent is positioning itself for enhanced natural gas-directed investment and development, establishing an enabling environment in response to increasing international pressures. “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,” stated Ayuk.
Also speaking at the GECF workshop, Mr Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, provided further insight into Nigeria’s natural gas potential, emphasizing how the PIB is enhancing gas monetization and investment. According to Kyari, “Nigeria has over 200 trillion cubic feet of reserves and the PIB has opened Nigeria up to investments in natural gas. The regional market is huge, and Nigeria has a role to play, while paying attention to greenhouse gas emissions.”
By incentivizing natural gas developments, resource-rich nations are actively pursuing the creation of domestic gas markets, with the resource offering critical opportunities for economic, infrastructural, and social growth.
“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.
Emphasizing the role of natural gas in Africa, and providing African stakeholders with the opportunity to not only engage in, but drive the conversation on natural gas in Africa’s energy future, AEW 2021 is committed to driving energy sector growth as well as the transition to cleaner sources of fuel. With GECF Secretary General H.E. Yury Sentyurin coming to Cape Town in November to drive a strong discussion on the role of gas, both the AEC and GECF are reaffirming their commitment to Africa’s position in global dialogue.
“We need a strong commitment to curb greenhouse gas emissions. As Africans, we are connected to our environment. We have an obligation to our environment. The AEC is going to be a partner and stand shoulder to shoulder with [the GECF]. The GECF have not just talked to us, but they have talked with us, and this dialogue is going to bring us to a promised land with natural gas driving our future,” concluded Ayuk.
AEW 2021, in partnership with South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy DMRE, is the AEC’s annual conference, exhibition and networking event. AEW 2021 unites African energy stakeholders with investors and international partners to drive industry growth and development and promote Africa as the destination for energy investments.