‘Africa’s gas resources can leapfrog continent’s transformation’ – Energy Chamber

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With total gas reserves of 620 trillion cubic feet, Africa’s gas resources provide the continent with an opportunity to leapfrog into its energy transition and reduce emissions and deforestation rates, while at the same time addressing energy security within the continent. The African Energy Chamber (AEC) has highlighted this point.

It has been proven that natural gas emits fewer harmful chemicals when compared to heavy fuel oil (HFO). But how does the development of Africa’s natural gas result in lower deforestation rates? Currently, in Africa, over 600 million live in energy poverty and the continent has found itself over-reliant on wood-based biomass energy. The consequence of this has been an increase in land degradation, deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions.

However, if fully developed, the continent’s natural gas resources present an opportunity for Africa to address environmental destruction and ensure clean cooking for its population while also guaranteeing energy security and economic growth, the African Energy Chamber says.

“With over 81% of households in sub-Saharan Africa relying on wood-based biomass energy for cooking, the World Health Organisation has linked millions of deaths in rural Africa to indoor emissions resulting from the continued and increased use of biomass,” the chamber outlined.

In this regard, it said countries such as Nigeria, Malawi, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe, where biomass use is particularly high due to limited access to reliable electricity, could expand the development of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to ensure clean cooking for the population while also improving energy access.

Expanding the continent’s gas market will also support accelerating electrification while reducing stress on the national grid. In this regard, South Africa has taken a bold move with the government recently approving the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s LPG Rollout Strategy, designed to leverage LPG to diversify the energy mix for energy security, affordability and decarbonisation reasons.

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With Africa seeking to achieve universal access to energy, the continued reliance on wood-based biomass remains a threat to improving energy access. The United Nations Environment Programme predicts that over 65% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa will still rely on wood fuel for cooking by 2050. Against this, the chamber is of the position that the time for Africa to invest more in its gas market is now.

“With the increased use of natural gas,” NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the AEC stated, “the African continent is well positioned to achieve energy independence, security and decarbonisation targets, at the same time, reducing emissions and the destruction of our forests. Africa needs to come up with new ways to fund and fast-track the exploitation of its gas resources to achieve this. Not only will gas help reduce emissions but also provides African governments with much-needed GDP to fund the growth of the overall economy.”

Ayuk had, in a previous statement, spoken out against an anti-oil movement of western environmentalist, warning that it threatens Africa’s opportunity to be energy secure.

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