African countries must use their gas reserves to lift more people out of poverty and develop industry as they try to catch up with more developed countries even as the world seeks to cut emissions, some industry officials said Tuesday.
Africa has about 13% of the world's natural gas and 7% of its oil, but has the lowest per capita energy consumption in the world.
Renewable energy could play a major role in Africa's energy supply in the future, but African governments say they need fossil fuels for basic power generation for industry.
Osama Mobarez, Secretary General of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum, told an energy conference in Abu Dhabi that Africa accounts for about 3% of global energy consumption and less than 3% of emissions.
“L’Afrique a besoin d’avoir un meilleur niveau de vie et en même temps, plusieurs pays africains ont découvert beaucoup de gaz ces dernières années, et ils ont besoin de développer ce gaz pour avoir une vie meilleure pour leur population et aussi pour l’industrialisation”.Osama Mobarez
Africa needs to build oil and gas pipelines, liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, distribution centres and gas-fired power plants over the next 20 years to unlock its energy market with more than 600 million people, analysts say.
Energy demand is expected to grow rapidly over the next two decades, increasing by 30% from current levels, compared with a 10% increase globally, consulting firm McKinsey said in a report.
US climate envoy John Kerry has warned against long-term investment in oil and gas infrastructure in Africa, urging countries to turn to renewable energy instead.
The continent is home to 60% of the world's best solar resources, with only 1% of installed solar capacity.
But some industry officials said renewable energy would not be enough to help Africa catch up with more developed countries, which had relied on hydrocarbons in their own industrialisation efforts.
“Wind and solar will not help Africa to industrialise. Ils doivent avoir accès aux hydrocarbures. Il y a un sens dans lequel c’est une transition injuste pour l’Afrique”, a déclaré Joseph McMonigle, secrétaire général du Forum international de l’énergie, lors de la conférence.