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ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

Africa’s difficult choice: gas versus renewables

25/1/2023

8 min read

Woman engineer in white boiler suit and hard hard in front of solar panels Photo: Adobe Stock
Africa has to make a choice between investment in hydrocarbons, which could bring benefits in the short-term to meet European demand, versus renewables investment for the medium- to long-term

Photo: Adobe Stock

Africa is faced with a difficult choice: to provide gas for Europe now – with short-term economic gain for Africa – or focus funding on developing renewable energy sources, with long-term energy security, economic growth and stability, and global climate goals in mind. Think Research and Advisory, a Saudi-based research firm, published a provocative research report on Africa’s energy future to coincide with COP27 in Egypt. Dr Neil Quilliam, Director of Energy Research at Think, presents the highlights.

With discussions on climate financing at the forefront of the recent COP27 agenda, so are the seemingly contradictory policies of Western governments, and Europe in particular. As the developed world reiterates commitments to climate goals over the medium to long-term, it is simultaneously grappling with the immediate crisis of meeting its energy demand following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Africa’s gas potential, as highlighted in the report, is in Europe’s sights – even as the bloc’s leaders push for an accelerated energy transition.

 

European leaders have urged their African counterparts to accelerate their transition to clean energy, although financing costs remain prohibitive as green projects carry high risks. Wealthy nations have failed to deliver on a long-held pledge to provide poorer countries with annual climate financing of $100bn/y by 2020, albeit COP27 offered positive momentum towards future ‘loss and damage’ reparation initiatives.

 

Countries including resource-rich African nations are now more likely to find financing for the development of hydrocarbon resources than in the past, as Europe seeks to fulfil its natural gas demand.

 

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