Africa must use all its energy sources to develop, says AU Commissioner

Africa must use all its energy resources, because it needs to develop. Thus affirmed the Commissioner of the African Union (AU) in charge of infrastructure and energy Amani Abou Zeid in his keynote speech at the Africa Oil Week conference in Cape Town. She pointed out that around 50% of Africans still do not have access to modern energy. Moreover, for the first time, the process of connecting Africans to modern energy had slowed down.

“Africa will have to use all forms of its energy sources to meet all its needs,” she said. “Now is not the time to pick and choose.”

The continent may need to triple or even quadruple its electricity production to meet all its needs. And using all of Africa’s energy sources to achieve universal access to electricity would mean that the continent’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions would not exceed 3.5%.

Africa contains 65% of the remaining unused arable land in the world, she pointed out. Yet many Africans remained in a state of food insecurity. The lack of modern energy has crippled the development of African agriculture. (She also spoke about the importance of gas across Africa for cooking.)

The current war in Europe, she noted, has only confirmed what the AU has always said about the centrality and criticality of energy for Africa, while underscoring the importance of security and resilience. But crises have also created opportunities. Just as the Covid-19 pandemic had driven digitalization, the conflict in Ukraine had created the opportunity for Africa to export gas to Europe, where the European Union had declared natural gas an energy source. transition during the decarbonization process. “It’s a window of opportunity for us to use our resources.”

There were also opportunities for African countries to produce green hydrogen. At least six African countries, she observed, had already started producing green hydrogen.

In an earlier address on Monday, Abou-Zeid said it was important for African countries to attend the upcoming COP27 climate conference (in Egypt) with the common continental position they had already agreed on. Okay, to the AU. This included improving their energy mixes to make them cleaner and more sustainable. Africa was not a “climate denier”. But Africa could not commit to deadlines applicable to other regions. “Our resources must work for us, and work for us from our point of view.”

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