By spurring investment in energy, Africa can address both energy poverty and food security.
As the voice of the African energy sector, the African Energy Chamber (AEC) proudly celebrates Africa Day on the 25th of May 2022. This year’s celebrations take place under the African Union’s 2022 theme, ‘The Year of Nutrition’ emphasizing how the continent needs to adopt and accelerate a multisectoral approach to ensure food and nutrition security. Accordingly, the energy sector, representing the backbone of every economy, has a particularly important role to play, with the scaling up of investment and development across the energy industry serving as a key driver of improving food security in Africa.
The AEC believes the energy sector will play an increasingly vital role in ensuring resilience across the entire food value chain from boosting food production, processing, transportation and within the food retail sector. With factors such as lack of adequate energy supply and investments, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and related natural disasters, and political and regional conflicts worsening the food crisis in Africa, speeding up the diversification of the continent’s energy mix through increased exploitation of Africa’s vast energy resources will help improve food security while driving economic growth.
According to the World Food Program’s Cost of Hunger in Africa Study, over 346 million people in Africa suffer from severe food insecurity while African countries are losing the equivalent of between 1.9 and 16.5% of their gross domestic profit (GDP) due to child under-nutrition. In this regard, African countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Algeria, South Sudan, Libya and Angola, whose economies are heavily reliant on the oil and gas industry, have an opportunity to accelerate energy production and monetization to improve job creation and GDP growth whilst putting food on the table for their population.
Moreover, with 65% of the African population relying on subsistence farming to curb food insecurity, issues such as lack of access to reliable energy and modern water management and agricultural systems have hindered food security. As a result, the continent is a net food importer and is vulnerable to global supply chain disruptions. The AEC believes that strengthening energy access and affordability in Africa through the increased use of domestic energy resources can help address this and reinforce agro-food systems continent wide.
Moreover, with the energy transition taking center stage across the globe, decentralized energy systems such as solar microgrids have an important role to play in supporting traditional energy resources including coal, diesel and oil, as well as offering new connectivity opportunities that could power the agriculture industry. Specifically, off-grid solar solutions provide subsistence farmers access to affordable power to fuel farming activities. Additionally, these solutions can help commercial farmers mitigate the challenges imposed by climate change such as flood, drought and erratic rainfall, thereby improving food production and agro-processing while strengthening food security continent wide.
“Without a secure energy supply, Africa cannot curb malnutrition and ensure food security. We believe the answer to solving Africa’s food crisis lies within the potential of the continent’s oil and gas industry. Increasing investments within the energy sector will unlock the potential of Africa’s overall economy and drive massive investment in manufacturing, agriculture and retail. More jobs will be created meaning Africans will be able to feed themselves. This is what we will be talking about at African Energy Week (AEW) 2022 in Cape Town, how Africa can become self-reliant by maximizing the exploitation of its own resources,” states NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the AEC.
As the African continent targets net zero hunger by 2030, Africa should prioritize addressing energy poverty. The AEC, through AEW 2022, Africa’s premier event for the oil and gas sector which will take place from 18 – 21 October 2022, in Cape Town, will continue connect African governments and energy stakeholders with regional and international investors to discuss, negotiate and sign deals that will optimize energy developments to ensure industrialization and food security across the African continent.
AEW 2022 is the AEC’s annual conference, exhibition and networking event. AEW 2022 unites African energy stakeholders with investors and international partners to drive industry growth and development and promote Africa as the destination for energy investments. Key organizations such as the African Petroleum Producers Organization, as well as African heavyweights including Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria, have partnered with AEW, strengthening the role the event will play in Africa’s energy future.
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