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The Key to Transformative Energy Change in Africa

Positive moves are afoot in the continent of Africa to ensure more gas is used domestically, to help electrification and industrialisation, diversify economies and create jobs.
This article appeared in Vol. 16, No. 5 - 2019

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The Key to Transformative Energy Change in Africa

The world’s first commercial LNG liquefaction plant was built in Africa – in Arzew, Algeria – in 1964. Although demand for the product took a while to develop, Africa is now the ‘go-to’ continent for LNG investment, with nearly one-third of total greenfield LNG investment going there this year. Mozambique is leading the charge and the sanctioning of the country’s Area 1 project in June 2019 is predicted to transform Mozambique into a major LNG exporter.

  • LNG train in Nigeria. © KBR.

And that raises an interesting question, one of many discussed in the book by NJ Ayuk reviewed in our GEO Media section. How much of the continent’s total proved remaining gas reserves – a figure of nearly 510 Tcf, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy – should be exported and how much used at home? Why is it that some countries are net exporters of gas, but import expensive diesel from the US or Europe to run generators to light homes? Positive moves are afoot in the continent to ensure more gas is used domestically, to help electrification and industrialisation, diversify economies and create jobs. For countries that do not have plentiful gas reserves, importing gas for power generation from luckier neighbours, rather than have it exported to other continents, should be an obvious and easy option.

It was a great pleasure to interview Maggy Shino for the GEO Profile in this issue. As Petroleum Commissioner at the Namibian Ministry of Mines and Energy, she is very aware of the energy challenges facing her large but sparsely populated country and is a passionate advocate for searching for domestic energy resources that can be used to bring electrification, industrialisation and wealth to Namibia. In a country where many people still use firewood for cooking, a large gas discovery would be transformative.

To almost quote the catchphrase of a president from a different continent: ‘Africa First’!

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