The COP27 climate talks will be held next month in Egypt and African countries plan to use this medium to advocate for a common energy position, recognizing fossil fuels as a necessity for expansion of economies and access to electricity in the short term. “We recognize that some countries may have to use fossil fuels for now, but it’s not one solution fits all,” said Amani Abou-Zeid, the African Union (AU) Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy.
In a statement Amani Abou-Zeid said, “It is not time to exclude, but it is the time to tailor solutions for a context, for a country and we cannot treat a city like a village because we have to tailor our sources of energy.” “Our ambition is to have fast-growing economies, competitive and industrialized,” she added.
Africa’s Energy Goals
In conjunction with renewable sources, Africa also seeks key roles for natural gas and nuclear energy while focusing on new technology and decarburization measures to reduce harmful emissions from its fossil fuels industry. Ukraine in February this year triggered the energy crisis in Europe and Africa is looking to monetize new gas and oil finds to help plug European demand.
However, critics point out that in African countries with large fossil fuel reserves, proceeds have been used to enrich corrupt political elites and have not helped alleviate general poverty or energy poverty. As stated by the World bank, access to electricity in 2021 for the population in Angola and Nigeria, Africa’s leading oil producers for decades, was just 40% and 57%, respectively, and top producer Nigeria has the world’s largest energy access deficit.
Africa is seen as a global renewable hub given its vast solar, wind and hydrogen potential, however around 600 million people in its sub-Saharan region live without electricity and almost 1 billion citizens without access to clean energy for cooking.
A word from African representatives
Omar Farouk Ibrahim, secretary general of the African Petroleum Producers’ Organisation commented saying, “As far as we are concerned, the first obligation we have as governments is to our people and to bring them out of energy poverty and poverty in general and to do this you need energy. The promised windfall of new climate finance for poor countries is not happening. At the 2009 COP, rich countries promised to find an additional $100-billion a year in climate finance for poor countries. There is no way you can develop any economy, any society without energy.”
“Africa has woken up and we are going to exploit our natural resources,” said Uganda Energy Minister Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu.
According to Judy Scott-Goldman, the message from COP 26 was clear: we all need to make a collective effort to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our collective footprint. “We believe the fossil fuel industry is killing us,” she said. “We are talking about coal, we are talking about oil and we are talking about gas. Most of this involved relabelling standard aid projects as climate-related. At this time we are not discriminating.”