Continent in Oil and Gas Dilemma as African Energy Chamber Rejects ‘Cave-in-Position’ at Cop28 to Phase Out Controversial Energy Resources

We will not Sell-Out by Phasing Out…

Tanzanian and Chinese technicians build gas pipeline terminal in Mtwara, to transport gas to Tanzania’s business capital Dar es Salaam for electricity production (Internet File Photo).

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, December 12, 2023/APO.

Despite the fact that over 600 million people are still without access to electricity and over 900 million people lack access to clean cooking solution in Africa, the continent’s COP 28 negotiators are caving into pressure from the west, stating that Africa is open to a phase-out approach regarding fossil fuels.

But the African Energy Chamber (AEC) as voice of the African energy sector, clarifies that this position presented at COP28 is not true. African producers – both established and emerging – are not willing to forfeit these previous resources for a global agenda, and the negotiators should not sell out on the hopes and aspirations of Africa, the  AEC has urged.  We should not  sell-out by phasing out.  In the Chamber’s view African negotiators should  be urged to fight for Africa.

Then President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania inaugurates Mtwara gas pipelines transport terminal in 2015.

The African Group of Negotiators, established at COP 1 in Berlin, was created as an alliance of African member states to represent the interests of the region in international climate change negotiations. As a technical body that engages in discussions during COP, the group has an obligation to reflect the needs and objectives of the continent. However, what this COP is showing us, is that this group is not averse to pressures from the west. Rather, the group is promoting that Africa is willing and open to phasing out fossil fuels.

Chaired by Ephraim Mwepya Shitima from the Republic of Zambia, the Group, while opposing a phase-out, has claimed that the continent would be prepared for a phase-down approach. This would entail the utilization of oil and gas in line with national development agendas, and thereafter a gradual phase-out. But this leaves Africa where? Argus Media reports that Nigeria’s Environment Minister Isiaq Adekunle Salako stated that the phasing down of fossil fuels was inevitable and that Nigeria is prepared to back a just and orderly approach. Similarly, Argus reports that Uganda’s Minister of Energy Ruth Nankabirwa would also only support a phase-down approach.

Rather than fight for the lesser of two evils, why not defend the continent’s right to keep oil and gas in its energy mix long-term? Why not promote economic development, defend the rights of the continent’s population and commit to an industrialized and energy secure future in Africa? Choosing a phase-down rather than a phase-out simply delays the inevitable, that Africa will one day be forced to give up its lifeline: oil and gas.

“African negotiators need to stop lying and misinforming. African producers have not agreed to, neither are they open to phasing out fossil fuels. Negotiators need to be careful and remember who they are fighting for. Don’t let empty promises about technology and money cloud your judgement. This is not the time for Africa to fall into the trap of conforming to biased agendas. Don’t sell out – oil and gas will remain in Africa,” stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the AEC.

African Group of Negotiators Chairperson Ephraim Mwepya Shitima.

Oil and gas will be the backbone of Africa’s economic growth. Looking at countries such as Angola, Libya and Nigeria – some of the biggest oil producers on the continent – phasing down or out will essentially remove the lifeline of these economies, leaving people in the dark. In Mozambique, Uganda, Namibia and Senegal, where large-scale projects are set to come online in the coming years, oil – and more specifically natural gas – is of crucial importance. Gas provides a clean energy alternative that will power industry, households and development. The resources will generate revenue, expand infrastructure while upskilling the local workforce. Through gas, countries in Africa will be able to not only develop but thrive.

However, if these very countries are required to phase-down, their chances of reaching their full economic potential will be significantly reduced. Broken promises of technology and capital have not gone anywhere. Going forward, these same promises being directed towards the African negotiators will meet the same fate. 

“African producers have not and will not agree to phasing out fossil fuels. Unlike the rest of the developed world, the continent has not yet had the chance to transform its economies through oil and gas. In order to develop, grow and address concerns such as energy poverty and industrialization, oil and gas will need to remain central for years to come,” Ayuk concluded.