Shouldn’t developed nations cease promoting the use of fossil fuels in Africa? Don’t we also deserve a sustainable future? – Vanessa Nakate
It has been confirmed that we are soon going to hit the peak of using fossil fuels. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released new statistics indicating that the transition to renewable energy is inevitable and that the demand for oil and gas will start to decrease by the end of this decade. This reduction may not be swift enough to prevent irreversible climate change, but it marks the downfall of fossil fuels.
In response, leaders of rich countries will be showing off wind turbines on their coasts and pointing to shiny electric cars on their streets. But they’ve spent the past few years persuading African countries to increase their gas expansion instead. There’s $245bn of gas infrastructure planned in Africa, and gas-rich countries such as Mozambique have faced an onslaught of foreign companies fishing for contracts to extract their gas.
Affluent nations have long viewed Africa as a potential supplier of gas, especially now that the spike in prices caused by Russia’s incursion in Ukraine has weakened their own energy stability.
These initiatives were presented as a significant opportunity to stimulate our economies. However, they were never in our best interests, as utilizing or selling fossil fuels has negative implications for Africa. Firstly, the gas extracted from African nations will not be used to provide electricity for their citizens, despite 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lacking access to it. Instead, it is exported to wealthier countries. Secondly, increasing the burning of gas exacerbates climate change and leads to devastating droughts and famines, particularly in African countries. Additionally, fossil fuel plants have often had detrimental effects on the communities living near them. In Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado region, the gas industry destroyed the lives and livelihoods of locals while failing to fulfill promises of job opportunities and compensation. In Nigeria, oil drilling has caused air, land, and water pollution, exposed people to harmful chemicals, and reduced life expectancy.
Large oil and gas companies have made bold claims to African leaders that gas is vital for development. However, according to the latest analysis by energy professionals from the IEA, these promises seem increasingly questionable. The report predicts that after 2025, there may be an excess of natural gas in the global energy market, resulting in a “gas glut”.
For fossil fuel corporations, that means a marginal hit to profits – and their bets are spread. For African countries persuaded into gas projects, a dwindling market for gas could mean an economic crisis that could lead to cuts in national spending and difficulties repaying national debt. We’ve been burned like this by fossil fuels before: African countries that export oil saw revenue halved at the start of this decade. As we enter the dying days of fossil fuels, gas infrastructure in Africa could go out of date almost as soon as it’s built.
This puts us at a disadvantage in the shift towards renewable energy that wealthy nations are embracing. Funds allocated to constructing gas infrastructure are unavailable for investing in the future industry of clean, reliable, renewable sources like solar and wind power.
African nations are aware of the direction the world is heading and are committed to not being left behind. In October, our leaders hosted the inaugural African Climate Summit and appealed for worldwide assistance in increasing our renewable energy capacity by five times.
There is no reason to continue relying on inefficient fossil fuels in Africa when we have access to an endless supply of wind and solar energy. As the youngest continent in the world, Africa is filled with innovative entrepreneurs who are ready to lead a manufacturing revolution in renewable energy. Africans are highly motivated to address the climate crisis, despite being the continent most affected by it despite having contributed the least to its cause. By embracing wind and solar power, we can create a world with a more stable climate, lower energy costs, and reliable energy sources.
Can I reword? Yes
African communities prefer to utilize renewable energy sources when given the opportunity. However, will developed nations give us the freedom to shape our own destiny? It is necessary for them to meet us halfway instead of restricting us with gas pipelines. Currently, only 2% of renewable energy investment is directed towards Africa. This must be altered: development banks should prioritize renewable energy, provide improved grants and financing for Africa, and eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels. The required funds can and should be obtained through a joint effort by public institutions and private investors to prioritize an equitable transition to sustainable energy.
At this year’s United Nations Cop climate conference, countries have the opportunity to support Africa in becoming a leading producer of renewable energy, minerals, and technology. As global leaders discuss increasing renewable energy production, they must also consider providing funding for Africa to significantly increase our own renewable energy generation. Additionally, they should establish national plans to gradually decrease their reliance on fossil fuels. Furthermore, they must take responsibility for the harm caused to Africa by climate change by contributing to the loss and damage fund.
It is time to make a decision. Will the governments of wealthy nations continue to hinder Africa’s progress by using us as a dumping site for the declining fossil fuel industry? Or will they allow us to take the lead in creating a sustainable, equitable, and environmentally friendly future?