MSGBC 2023 Panel Discusses Regional Collaboration for Sustainable Development

sustainable development

During the second day of the MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power conference, a panel discussion titled ‘Bridging the Divide: Collaboration to Power the Region’ delved into the pivotal role of regional cooperation and power pools in advancing energy access and sustainable development across West Africa.

Sponsored by the Mauritanian state-owned mining firm, Société Nationale Industrielle et Minière, the discussion brought together global energy industry stakeholders to examine the impact of innovative energy solutions, such as mini-grids and gas-to-power, in driving the sustainable growth of the region’s energy sector.

Addressing the dual challenge of decarbonization and energy poverty in the region, Mamadou Amadou Kane, Special Advisor in charge of Gas-to-Power at the Ministry of Petroleum, Mines and Energy in Mauritania, emphasized the goal of achieving universal access by 2030. He highlighted national efforts to provide power for people and industries, utilizing a mix of gas and renewables. At the regional level, Kane discussed plans to maximize hydropower, emphasizing ongoing projects such as a transmission line to interconnect Mauritania with Chad and a regional mini-grids initiative supported by the African Development Bank.

Rita Madeira, Africa Program Officer at the International Energy Agency, added that “The continent’s energy access rate is very low hence an urgency to boost access. For Africa to meet global decarbonization targets it will need more time.”

Expanding on the role gas play in the regional energy mix, Alex Douglas, Managing Director, Head of Western Africa, Globeleq stated that it has a huge role in terms of electrification on an economic development scale considering the massive reserves the MSGBC region has. He said “I don’t see renewables taking over baseload power over the next 20 to 30 years.”

Showcasing the role renewables can play in strengthening the region’s energy mix, Hasnayn Ebrahim, Managing Director, Africa International Advisors, South Africa, said renewables allow for new generation strategies that can help address energy poverty to be developed and adopted.

Cheikh Abdellahi Bedda, General Director, SOMELEC, Mauritania, said “SOMELEC has tried to move quickly with mini-grids using solar and thermal energy. We are also trying to engage in an integration program with the neighboring countries of Senegal and Mali. We aim to further consolidate renewable energy solutions and strengthen power distribution points to benefit rural populations.”

Madeira, reiterated that “Mauritania has four major renewables and green hydrogen projects and has the largest pipeline in sub-Saharan Africa through 2030. Renewables can play a massive role in the mining industry which represents 25% of the country’s GDP.”

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