Former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has reiterated the need for African countries to chart their own course toward achieving energy transition agenda rather than yield to the pressure of what he called “unrealistic ideals” of the global North for an exclusively renewables-driven economy.
He said that Africa must take charge of its own energy destiny by using its rich resource assets for the benefit of its own people especially at this time of global oil and gas crisis, triggered by the Russian-Ukrainian war.
“Like the rest of the world, Africa must follow energy policies that promote socioeconomic development and sustainable hydrocarbon use”, he said.
“Africa is the lowest producer of greenhouse-gas emissions and needs to lift nearly half-a-billion citizens out of poverty.
“Responsible management of our hydrocarbons and investment in our economies is necessary to ensure a just energy transition and sustainable growth for our people”, Obasanjo said.
The situation provides a wider business space for Africa as the European Union continues to seek new market opportunities elsewhere as Russia threatens to cut gas supply to Europe by up to 90% by the end of 2022, an announcement which has reportedly triggered so much anxiety within the Union.
For the Union, Africa serves as one of the potential new sources of energy to replace this supply distortion, with an estimated 61 billion barrels of oil equivalent being discovered in the region over the past 10 years.
The call for Africa to assert its energy sovereignty is also coming ahead of the Africa Oil Week conference in South Africa, where energy companies, investors and governments are expected to meet to negotiate deals toward shaping the continent’s future.
Meanwhile, the African Petroleum Producers’ Organization, APPO has earlier called on member countries and other global institutions to use petroleum as a catalyst for energy security, sustainable development and economic diversification in Africa through collaboration and partnerships.
Both also called for accelerated dialogue on the sustainable development of hydrocarbons, stressing the role of Africa as a supplier of global energy needs.
“There has been much talk at forums such as the World Economic Forum in Davos about a just energy transition.
“However, we must not allow Africa to be dictated for. The discussions at AOW will be pivotal in charting a new energy course for Africa. We will decide what is best for us”, Chief Obasanjo said.
Adding his voice Paul Sinclair, VP of Energy and Director of Government Relations for AOW, said Africa was committed to a just and equitable transition to renewables.
“Critics make the mistake of thinking that Africa has abandoned renewable energy strategies. That is not the case.
“The energy transition is exactly that, a transition that is part of Africa’s goal to reach net zero. However, oil and gas are required for the foreseeable future”, Paul said.
Adding that Obasanjo’s comments must be seen against the socio-economic challenges many African economies face.
“Creating an African oil industry that benefits Africa’s people needs strong policy and regulation”, says Obasanjo.
“During my time in government, we launched oil-and-gas policy reforms that helped to build a modern oil and gas hub. There were many learnings that we can apply across the wider region. I look forward to discussing these opportunities for Africa.”
According to the United Nations an estimated half-a-billion Africans live below the poverty line, presenting Africa as being responsible for only about 3.8% of global CO2 emissions.
Meanwhile African countries have argued the need for the developed West to allow them tap into their own natural resources through low-carbon management strategies while developing renewable energy sources at the same time.