By Bassey Udo
PICTURE:APPO President/Minister of Mines and Energy, People’s Republic of Algeria, Mohamed Arkab.
Producers of oil, gas and mining resources in Africa under the aegies of the African Petroleum Producers Organisation (APPO) have resolved to continue the exploitation and use of the oil and gas resources of its member countries despite the current agitation towards energy transition to alternative fuels.
Energy transition is the global energy sector’s shift from dependence on fossil fuel-based systems of energy production and consumption, including oil, natural gas, and coal, to a more environmentally friendly alternative renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and biomass.
The transition involves lhe deployment of technological advancements and the application of artificial intelligence to achieve sustainable development, reduction in energy-related greenhouse gas emissions through various forms of decarbonization processes.
Championed by the advanced economies of Europe, America and Asia, the agitation for energy transition has been criticised by some energy experts who say it was targeting Africa and others in the developing economies of the world.
U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says fossil fuels constitute the world’s largest exported commodity, with over 4.5 billion metric tons production, accounting for more than 1.3 percent of the total global gross domestic product (GDP).
A sizeable chunk of this volume is produced in Africa and the other developing economies, which lack the requisite technology and finance to harness and utilise the abundant hydrocarbon resources in their domains.
But, rising from its 41st Ministerial Session in Algiers on Tuesday, the Council of Ministers of APPO said in a communique that although member countries acknowledged the reality of climate change and its impact on the environment, they have resolved to continue to exploit, produce and use fossil fuels with minimum carbon footprints for the economic emancipation of their people.
Presided by APPO President, and Minister of Mines and Energy, People’s Republic of Algeria, Mohamed Arkab, the Council the continued production and use of fossil fuels would be going on side by side with their commitment to exploring the use of renewable energies.
Renewable energies covers a range of non-fossil and non-nuclear sources, including solar, wind, hydro, oceanic, geothermal, biomass, and other sources of energy derivable from “sun energy”, which are capable of being renewed indefinitely as long as nature exists.
In attendance at the meeting were the Ministers and Heads of Delegation of the 14 member countries of the organisation, namely Algeria, Angola, Benin, Cameroun, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Libya, Niger, Nigeria, and South Africa.
The agenda of the meeting was “The Future of Oil and Gas Industry in Africa in the light of the global pursuit of Energy Transition.”
Although the Ministers expressed support for any human effort to tackle the dangers of climate change, they vehemently condemned the current approach to energy transition spearheaded by the advanced economies, describing it as “unilateral imposition.”
The Ministers criticised the drive towards energy transition as selfish and hypocritical, considering that the developed countries have for over 100 years used fossil fuels to grow their economies and societies, and have all along been aware of the dangers of fossil fuel emissions, but are now asking the world to abandon fossil fuels, because they were dangerous to mankind.
The aggressive drive for energy transition, the Ministers noted, was coming at a time African economies were poised to launch themselves into industrialization.
This, they said, required a lot of energy, whereas the developed countries’ economies now require less energy as a result of the transformation from manufacturing to knowledge production and artificial intelligence.
They identified the imminent challenges the oil and gas industry would face in Africa as international financiers withdraw funding for the industry
and oil and gas research institutions in the developed countries that have always led the technological development were closing their petroleum faculties.
On financing energy projects on the continent, the Council resolved to look at both public and private sources within the continent to raise the necessary capital to continue to finance the oil gas industry.
They agreed that Africa needed to re-strategize as the game was fast changing, adding that Africa needed to look within for the expertise, technology, finance and markets for its energy resources.
The Council expressed confidence about the existence of the potential for growth, considering Africa’s large population of over 1.3billion people.
“All they need is to be mobilised and empowered to be able to buy energy,” the Ministers said.
Reaffirming its commitment ro the protection of the environment, the Ministers emphasized the need to pursue technologies that would allow for the use of fossil fuels with minimum carbon footprints.
The Council called on the technologically advanced and financially capable countries to lend their support to African countries as they grapple with the challenges of Energy Transition, stressing the need for intra-African energy infrastructure like cross-border pipelines, products depots and terminals.