During the 6th European Union (EU) – African Union Summit held in Brussels last week, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen addressed the $150-billion Global Gateway Africa initiative, which aims to support the continent for inclusive, green and digital recovery and transformation, as well as Africa’s potential as a partner in the energy transition.
“Africa is rich in hydropower, solar power and wind power. To end climate change, the world needs Africa,” stated von der Leyen in her closing speech.
Countries like Senegal, Egypt, Morocco and Kenya have already committed to developing renewable energy as a strong component of their energy mix, inaugurating some of the largest wind and solar power projects on the continent. In addition, the International Renewable Energy Agency has estimated that Africa will need $70 billion in annual investment in the renewable energy sector until 2030 to implement a clean energy transition.
Natural gas development will also play a critical role in enabling the continent to meet global Paris Agreement goals, while providing a low cost, stable supply of electricity to its population. Countries like Nigeria, Mozambique, Equatorial Guinea and Senegal are pursuing large-scale gas monetization projects as part of their National Development Plans that carry the capacity to supply relatively clean-burning gas to both the continent and beyond.
Europe, however, has a tenuous relationship with natural gas. The European Investment Bank, for example, pledged to halt financing of oil, gas or coal-related projects by 2022, yet has continued to invest $1.08 billion in gas projects since then. Last month the EU proposed a plan to label specific natural gas and nuclear projects as “green,” thereby classifying these developments as sustainable investments.