6th Dec 2023


African push to invest in gas met with caution by EU

  • Cutting off funding for new gas exploration would amount to "a fatal blow" Macky Sall, the Senegalese president has said
Listen to article

The EU's big offer at the two-day EU-AU summit was the Global Gateway Africa — a €150bn initiative that, among other goals, aims to connect Africa's mineral wealth to the global market and invest in the continent's electrification, preferably using clean energy.

"Africa is rich in hydropower, solar power and wind power," European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said Friday (18 February), at the close of the two-day summit in Brussels.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"To end climate change the world needs Africa," she said.

The availability of far more power from renewables has been amply demonstrated in Africa, with countries like Kenya and Morocco already significant generators of cleaner energy.

Yet for some African countries, the focus may be as much on fossil sources — in particular natural gas — which aren't so climate-friendly.

Nigeria, Mozambique and Senegal are sitting on giant natural gas reserves, and they have lobbied hard in recent months for Europe to continue to make financial support available for new gas projects.

Macky Sall, the Senegalese president who currently presides over the African Union, has said that cutting off funding for new gas exploration would amount to "a fatal blow" for emerging African countries.

Sall regularly makes the point that some 600 million Africans — more than the entire population of Europe — still lack access to electricity.

And it's not as if efforts aren't underway to tap African gas.

European vice president Margrethe Vestager and Nigerian vice president Yemi Osinbajo ahead of the summit agreed to "explore all options for increased supply of Liquified Natural Gas from Nigeria to the EU."

That pledge came against a backdrop of Osinbajo writing in Foreign Affairs magazine about wealthy nations banning or restricting public investment in fossil fuels, including natural gas, after "decades of profiting from oil and gas" themselves.

But the African push on energy is a difficult matter for the EU, where many member states don't want to be seen investing in gas at a time when climate action is centre-stage.

Europe itself also is deeply divided over the role of gas as a transition fuel to a cleaner future.

Questions of fairness

African countries now want their opportunity to industrialise — and, for some, that may mean a continuing reliance in some countries on fossil fuels.

African policymakers also point to the hypocrisy in Europe's enthusiasm for Africa to embrace renewables while Germany, for example, has allowed construction of Nord Stream 2, a pipeline connecting Europe to Russian gas suppliers.

And questions of fairness loom large over how far and how fast Africa should be expected to make a transition to renewables, particularly given the rich world's responsibility for the overwhelming bulk of emissions responsible for climate change.

"There is a question of whether Europe is actually using Africa as a guinea pig, even while [Europe's] own power consumption patterns, and in general its consumption patterns, aren't seriously put into question," Faten Aggad, a senior advisor at the African Climate Foundation, told the EU Scream podcast ahead of the summit.

Unsurprisingly, given the sensitivities surrounding energy issues in Africa and Europe, leaders did not appear to be in a hurry to announce big, new financing deals for fossil fuels at the summit.

"The transition to clean energy will be a process, especially for countries that rely heavily on coal," von der Leyen said on Friday.

A new meeting between the European and African commissions is now planned for the spring.

"Then we really have to deliver a solution," she said.


EU in whirlwind of Africa diplomacy. Did it work?

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and Senegalese president Macky Sall unveiled a €150bn plan investment plan for Africa, but in some quarters, Europe's charm offensive is not going well.

Kenyan activist lambasts world leaders at EU green summit

Government officials and financial leaders met at the EU Summit for Sustainable Finance on Thursday (October 7) to discuss current green investment plans and seek common ground, amid worsening climate crisis and gaping inequality.


An EU-Africa 'equal partnership' must tackle past and present

Competition is fierce and getting African leaders' attention is no easy task. US president Joe Biden has his own Africa summit, and Turkey, Japan, Russia and - most importantly - China, also have Africa forums up and running.

EU public procurement reform 'ineffective', find auditors

The EU Commission reformed procurement directives to make bids more attractive (and competitive), but the reform has failed, say auditors. Procedures now take longer, and the number of direct awards and individual tenders has increased over the past decade.


Can Green Deal survive the 2024 European election?

Six months ahead of the EU elections, knocking an 'elitist' climate agenda is looking like a vote-winner to some. Saving the Green Deal and the EU's climate ambitions starts with listening to Europeans who are struggling to make ends meet.


What are the big money debates at COP28 UN climate summit?

The most critical UN climate conference (COP28) ever will run from Thursday to mid-December — with talks on climate commitments and climate finance expected to determine the success of this year's summit.

Latest News

  1. Crunch talks seek breakthrough on EU asylum overhaul
  2. Polish truck protest at Ukraine border disrupts war supplies
  3. 'Green' banks lend most to polluters, reveals ECB
  4. Tense EU-China summit showdown unlikely to bear fruit
  5. A look to the past and the future of China-EU relations
  6. Tusk's difficult in-tray on Poland's judicial independence
  7. EU nears deal to fingerprint six year-old asylum seekers
  8. Orbán's Ukraine-veto threat escalates ahead of EU summit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  3. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  4. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?
  5. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  6. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  3. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  4. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us