Just Energy Transition must consider Africa's needs

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Africa must be given the space to transition from high carbon usage to low carbon at a pace and cost that it can afford, says Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe.

The Minister was speaking at the Africa Energy Indaba held in Cape Town on Tuesday.

“Their voice [African people] on the Energy Transition must be heard. That is the voice that says, energy production in Africa must be aligned to Africa’s socio-economic development. This means that there must be a balance between energy demand for socio-economic development and energy supply that is premised on low carbon emissions.

“Differences about the pace, scale and how to balance the transition will always exist, however, as African leaders, we are duty bound to act with determination to resolve the intricate problems that beset our continent without the encirclement pressure to please others first. We must be pragmatic in our approach to a low emissions future,” he said.

Mantashe said Africa’s stance has been to put people at the centre of any transition.

“It is pleasing that Africa is uniting on a principle that the Energy Transition must be people centred, take into consideration the socio-economic conditions of communities that will be affected, and take into consideration Africa’s developmental needs.

“Such a consensus found an expression at the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 26 and 27) resulting in a resolution to phase-down on unabated coal power rather than the view of lobbyists who called for an abrupt phase-out of coal use.

“Recent developments in Europe, China, US and India have vindicated the pragmatic position that African states have taken. Going into COP 28 Africa’s position must continue to be pragmatic as we move from high carbon emissions to a low carbon emissions future.”

Africa’s mineral resources

Mantashe said the continent’s rich endowment with minerals that are suitable for clean energy production could mean a boost for the continent’s economies.

“We believe that it is in the interest of Africa that a rigorous mineral exploration programme is implemented to uncover these unknown deposits in many other countries of our continent. For its part, South Africa continues to mobilise investments in exploration informed by the understanding that it is the lifeblood of mining, which has been the backbone of our economic development for over 150 years.

“Unless we explore, there can be no beneficiating from the mineral reserves that our continent is endowed with,” he said.

The Minister emphasised that with at least 600 million people on the continent lacking electricity supply, it is imperative that Africa be given an opportunity to develop its own energy sources from its own minerals.

“Africa is endowed with resources such as coal, oil and gas which are needed for baseload energy to power our industrialisation. Our continent deserves the opportunity [to] develop its own oil and gas infrastructure storage, refinery, and distribution to cushion its people against the turbulence of global markets and thereby secure its continental energy needs.

“It is incumbent on all of us gathered at this Indaba to align technological innovations with the type of energy sources we can produce. Africa must take full custodianship of its energy and development trajectory and be certain of its outcomes,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za