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Fossil fuels and the energy transition: Africa’s dilemma

Several high-carbon emitting countries in Africa are developing just energy transition plans while still focusing on exploiting their fossil-fuel reserves.

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By Conrad Onyango, bird Story Agency

Africa’s carbon-intensive economies are racing to develop just energy transition plans as more green funding commitments begin to flow in.

However, these oil and gas-dependent states are not yet ready to sacrifice their vast fossil fuel reserves, with many making a solid case for transiting to clean energy in the longer term and at their own pace.

Barely a week after curtains fell on 'Africa's COP,' Angola is set to aggressively market its oil and gas sector to African and global leaders, policymakers and investors.

Organisers of a three-day Angola Oil and Gas conference and Exhibition 2022, scheduled to begin November 29th, have described this as the most significant event for the country and Africa's biggest energy conference post-COP27.

"The event is set to lay the foundation for robust discussions, lucrative deals and new capital commitments that will transform Angola's energy landscape for the better," Africa Energy Chamber said in a statement.

The chamber said the event would build on a 'strong argument' placed by African leaders during the global climate summit to develop the oil and gas sector for the good of Africa. A key priority is to leverage high oil and gas reserves to end energy poverty and bolster the development of these economies.

In October 2021, during a Financial Times Africa Summit, Angolan President João Lourenço hinted it had begun working on a clean energy transition plan but indicated it would take time before its hydrocarbon sector shuts down.

In early November, Ghana's president, Nana Akufo-Addo, expressed his country's total commitment to increasing its share of renewable energy in the energy mix in guiding the government to 'responsibly' implement 'Just Energy Transition.'

"We will continue to increase the share of renewable energy in our electricity generation mix, as well as explore the options of hydrogen gas and other clean energy sources to meet our energy needs," said Akufo-Addo, at a High-Level Event on Sustainable Energy for All.

The West African leader said its government had developed an Energy Transition Framework to guide the country in implementing the transition to clean energy at 'its own pace.'

The US$561.8 billion framework structured to 'minimise possible stranded assets and job losses in the oil and gas sector will see Ghana achieve net zero emissions by 2070.

Ghana is the fourth country to have a clear Just Energy Transition Plan after South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria. Transition Funding commitments have, however, been recorded in South Africa and Egypt.

South Africa's Just Energy Transition Partnership- a venture between the governments of South Africa, the United States, the United Kingdom (UK), France, Germany, and the European Union (EU) is Africa's first transition model project.

The venture is mobilising an initial US $ 8.5 billion to help the country's efforts in coal plant de-commissioning, funding alternative employment in coal mining areas and deployment of clean energy and investments in new sectors of the green economy.

The world Bank, in the lead up to COP27 in Egypt, approved an additional US $497 million of financing in support of South Africa's Just Energy Transition.

Egypt, which plans to quadruple its installed renewable capacity share to 42 per cent by 2030, has committed to developing an ambitious and longer-term strategy to reach net zero emissions by 2050 by exploring green hydrogen, among other green alternatives.

A Just Energy Transition in Egypt's Climate Action Profile by the country's Ministry of Environment shows that Egypt is ready to go all out in the transition process by pushing for a robust and diverse energy mix.

The plan includes, among others deployment of energy storage technologies, the Inclusion of new alternative energy sources such as green and blue hydrogen, Phasing out coal and switching to low carbon fuels, stimulating the increased production and use of biofuels, Expansion of electrified mass transit systems, and transformation to non-motorised transportation.

In August, Nigeria launched its Energy Transition Plan (ETP) strategy to achieve its 2060 net zero emission target. Since then, it has been in the market looking to secure at least US $10 billion in financing commitment to kickstart the plan's implementation.

Nigeria's plan to use gas as 'transitionary fuel', ending energy poverty and supporting industrialisation in what it hopes will promote fair, inclusive and equitable energy in Africa. by 2060, the country estimates 100 million Nigerians will have been lifted out of poverty through the transition.

According to a report by Oxford Economics, African countries differ in their structural economic configurations and extensive development needs, along with the relative size, composition, and carbon intensity of their energy systems. Therefore, their transition scope, speed and complexities vary.

"Arguments for and against energy transitions in Africa should carefully balance net zero ambitions with development goals, along with the basic necessity to ensure ubiquitous energy security, access, reliability, and affordability," said researchers at Oxford Economics.

bird story agency

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