- European countries see African energy resources as a possible substitute for Russian gas, announcing tentative investments in the near future despite announcing plans to phase out fossil fuel consumption.
- African nations welcome investment, but want long-term commitments.
- “The West’s rush for African natural resources…is being met with suspicion,” Patrick Godi, project officer at the Republic of South Sudan’s National Resources Commission, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Africans regard Russia as… a confidant of the aspirations of many African countries during the struggle for liberation and independence.”
European nations are watching Africa’s vast untapped energy reserves as they wean themselves off Russian natural gas. However, Europe’s commitment to “net-zero” emissions climate policies could cause the new scramble for Africa to backfire and even bring African nations closer to Russia.
European leaders say increased production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from resource-rich African countries can offset reductions in gas deliveries from Russia, which are the result of sanctions following the Russian invasion of the country. ‘Ukraine. However, Europe’s reluctance to pursue long-term investment in new generation facilities could undermine Africa’s fragile economies, exposing the West’s “hypocrisy and double standards”, project officer Patrick Godi at the National Resources Commission of the Republic of South Sudan, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“The West’s scramble for African natural resources in the wake of the war that disrupted Europe’s oil and gas supplies, driving up commodity prices, is being met with suspicion,” said godi. “A long-term commitment to Africa’s sustainable development is needed to win the heart, mind and soul of the continent.
The EU on Monday proposed a gas rationing scheme for member countries as Gazprom, the Russian state power producer, announced that LNG flows to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline would fall to 20% of their capacity after a brief interruption.
Faced with the prospect of a freezing winter and a complete halt to Russian gas imports, European countries are turning to alternative suppliers. Former Italian President Mario Draghi struck a deal with Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on July 18 to import an additional 4 billion cubic meters of gas, cementing the North African country’s place as the country’s biggest gas supplier. Italy, according to Euronews. Russia once held this position.
Other contenders for supplies from Europe are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and Mozambique, NPR reported. Congo on Monday announced a plan to auction 27 oil blocks and three gas blocks, many of them in endangered ecological areas the government has promised to preserve, Reuters reported.
This plan is at odds with the hopes of Western leaders to wean African nations off fossil fuels.
The G7, made up of the EU, UK, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, US and Canada, announced the Global Infrastructure Partnership and the investment, intended to facilitate a “just transition” in developing countries towards sustainable energy sources at an annual summit in June. The G7 also reaffirmed its commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 and to reduce new fossil fuel subsidies by 2030. (RELATED: Ireland set to join growing list of countries that put ‘climate’ above food security)
“We commit to ending new direct public support to the unrelenting international fossil fuel sector by the end of 2022, except in limited circumstances clearly defined by each country,” in accordance with the Paris Agreement, the G7 said in a joint statement.
“In these exceptional circumstances, state-backed investment in the gas sector may be appropriate as a temporary response…and if implemented in a manner consistent with our climate goals and without creating adverse lockdown,” the G7 added in its June statement.
According to NPR, Western oil and gas executives have flocked to Africa with investment deals that are supposed to create jobs and boost export revenue to struggling economies.
“It is a good step if Europe now hopes to depend more on Africa for the purchase of natural gas across the continent,” said Abdoulie Ceesay, MP for Old Yundum as Deputy Majority Leader. of the Gambia.
However, near-term oil and gas projects toward a green transition could lead governments to invest huge sums of money in assets that will eventually become worthless, NPR reported.
African countries will likely want to start long-term projects lasting 20 to 25 years, said Matt Drinkwater, editor for power, gas and LNG at commodity forecasting firm Argus Media, at DCNF. “This is by no means intended to be a long-term commitment, but sufficient to help the private sector partners in the initiative move the project forward to ensure it comes to fruition.”
European countries could enter into offtake agreements with African producers to buy defined quantities of oil and natural gas in the longer term, Drinkwater explained. However, once European demand wanes, countries will seek to resell this gas, a prospect that producers are likely to balk at.
“Having the ability to resell the gas also gives the buyer the ability to effectively undermine the producer with the producer’s gas,” Drinkwater said.
African countries could possibly avoid Western overtures for Russia, which they see as a force opposing colonialism, Godi told DCNF. While Africa has suffered disproportionately from food shortages caused in part by a Russian blockade of Ukrainian wheat exports, African countries like Uganda have avoided taking a public stand against Russia, Reuters reported.
During the Cold War, African countries joined the Non-Aligned Movement, a forum of nations that did not profess allegiance to any of the superpowers. Many adapted Soviet Communism to nationalist agendas, attempting to escape the legacy of centuries of European colonial rule and resource exploitation.
“Africans regard Russia as a non-aggressor on the world stage and more so as a confidant of the aspirations of many African countries during the liberation and independence struggles,” Godi warned.
The majority of humanity (which is not white) supports Russia’s position in Ukraine. Putin is absolutely right! When the USSR stationed nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962, the West was ready to blow the world over. Now, when NATO does the same thing, they expect Russia to do it differently?
— Muhoozi Kainerugaba (@mkainerugaba) February 28, 2022
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made a stopover in Congo on July 25 before traveling to Uganda, where Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has recognized Russia as a partner in anti-colonialism and said he does not consider the invasion of Ukraine as grounds for criticism, Reuters reported.
“Our country does not impose anything on anyone or [tell] others how to live,” Lavrov said in an essay ahead of his African tour.
“We treat with great respect the sovereignty of African states and their inalienable right to determine their own development path. We are firmly committed to the principle of “African solutions to African problems,” Lavrov wrote.
The European Commission and the G7 did not return the DCNF’s request for comment.
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