With countries such as Russia serving as a benchmark for how African nations can utilize their gas for economic growth, a panel discussion during the AEC-Gazprom- International Roundtable on Gas explored how Africa can leverage partnerships with Russia to usher in a new era of electrification.
African natural gas is the key to making energy poverty history in Africa by 2030. During a panel discussion that took place during an International Roundtable on Gas hosted by the African Energy Chamber and Russian energy giant Gazprom on Thursday, this very nexus was emphasized, with speakers drawing attention to how the continent can monetize and maximize its resources, specifically in the age of the energy transition.
“The world wants us to transition and expects us to move at the same velocity. We are not at the same stage of development, and therefore, we cannot be expected to move at the same speed,” started Nosizwe Nokwe-Macamo, Executive Chairman and Founder at Raise Africa Investment.
Despite holding up to 620 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas reserves, much of Africa remains in the dark. In this scenario, natural gas has been identified as the solution for the continent, and Gazprom the partner of choice as countries accelerate large-scale projects aimed at monetizing resources.
“We are considered a poor country, but we have, but the Rovuma basin we have more than 100 tcf of natural gas. How can a country with these resources be considered a poor one? Why are we not looking at Gazprom as a strategic partner in order to position ourselves and develop our country? It is important for us to see what can be done with natural gas and how it can be done,” stated Florival Mucave, Chairman of the Mozambican Energy Chamber and Mwendo Engineering SA.
According to Serge Toulekina, New Ventures and Development Manager at Red Sky Energy, there are three areas that need to be addressed. “When it comes to gas, you need to have the right regulatory framework, the infrastructure and the market. In the case of central Africa, the market is there. If you look at the electricity problem in most of these countries, it is clear that with gas-to-power, people will buy it. Without the regulatory framework, it will be difficult.”
He added that, “There are laws that need to be drafted and this can be done by looking into what other people have done. You need to make sure you have the right regulatory framework to attract the right investment.”
With the right regulatory framework, African countries are well positioned to drive long-term development that focuses on electrification, industrialization and revenue generation. However, key challenges regarding financing persist.
“The question comes to how you monetize your gas. When you look at financing our infrastructure, international banks tell us to forget gas and look into renewables. This is the biggest problem we face. We cannot finance hydrocarbons today because the international community does not encourage us to invest in hydrocarbons. Unless we have regional and international collaboration, we will not be able to tackle those problems and eradicate energy poverty,” Mucave added.
Stepping into this picture, partnerships with companies such as Gazprom are key, and according to Macamo, “Gazprom stated that they are using their resources, not only for export, but to develop their society, showing what gas can do in their country. They have said, let’s deal with what is happening in our society first. On the African continent, that is what we should do.”