While many of the keynote talks at the African Energy Week event last month focused on fears of the potential collapse of oil and gas revenues, some politicians and technocrats were more accepting that the energy transition is a reality that must be faced up to while addressing Africa’s energy poverty challenges.

Namibian Mines & Energy Minister Tom Alweendo said that “drastic action is required in order to accelerate energy developments and electrify Africa”, adding that, due to an increased focus on renewable power generation alternatives, “significant developments have emerged within the solar, wind and hydroelectric industries”.

Potential resources

However, he stressed that Namibia will not “suffocate itself by cutting off potential oil and gas resources that will assist in solving our problems”.

Immanuel Mulunga, managing director of Namibia’s state oil company Namcor, argued that “the transition is not supposed to be binary — oil or no oil. We have to go smoothly to decarbonise the planet”.

He explained that Namibia is “continuing with the hydrocarbon game”, while adding it is one of the best places in the world for green hydrogen, with a $9.4 billion project unveiled last month.

Green hydrogen frontier

“I think we’re going to be at the frontier of green hydrogen. It’s good that the conversation has started,” Mulunga said.

Niger’s Petroleum, Energy & Renewable Energies Minister Mahamane Sani Mahamadou said: “There has never been a better time for Africa to chart its own path.”

However, he stressed: “We need a just transition. We have an obligation to future generations to exploit our resources and use the proceeds to improve access to healthcare and food, and to fight energy poverty.”

South Sudan Petroleum Minister Puot Kang Chol added: “None of us is against renewable energy... we are saying [the transition] must be inclusive, equitable and we must all sit at the table and agree.”

'Not easy'

Freddie Blay, chairman of state-owned Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, admitted the transition will be difficult for Ghana.

“This is a challenge. We depended mainly on the West for capital, technology and managerial [skills], but trying to diversify the economy and energy sources is not going to be easy,” he said.

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