At the onset of the African Union Summit kicking off in Ethiopia, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) across Africa are calling on the African Union to play a more ambitious role toward a fossil-free energy future in Africa.
CSOs are now urging the leaders attending the forum on the vices of expanding gas production in Africa, citing that this would lead to increasing risks of stranded assets and expensive energy, encouraging foreign ownership of African resources, creating fewer jobs, and harming health and livelihoods across the continent.
Motivated by the “Fossil Fuelled Fallacy Report” of COP27 by Dont Gas Africa, which states ‘dash for gas’ is nothing more than a short-sighted strategy to profit from the energy crisis, where the fossil fuel industry has misappropriated the language of climate justice in order to legitimize a vast expansion of fossil fuels across Africa.
“African land is not a gas station. Millions are losing their homes, don’t have access to food, have their health threatened, and are slipping into higher levels of extreme poverty because of the fossil fuel industry. Instead of selling away fossil fuel extraction rights to big multinational companies, African leaders should invest in clean, renewable energies that will directly benefit people across the continent without damaging their health,” emphasized Campaigns Lead for Don’t Gas Africa, Dean Bhekumuzi Bhebhe.
The AU summit intends to call for a rapid transition to people-centered, clean, renewable energy for the continent and the whole world, presenting an opportunity for the continent to expand energy access and accelerate the transition to clean, renewable energy.
However, the CSOs point out a concern when it comes to reliance on fossil fuels consideration based on a proposal put forward by energy and infrastructure Ministers for Africa. Civil society organizations call on the African Union to reject fossil gas production as a bedrock for Africa’s energy future and to also put an end to fossil-fuel-induced energy apartheid in Africa, which has left 600 million Africans without energy access.
Calling on the need to heed the urgency especially faced with climate change, shift away from dependence on fossil fuels, and leapfrog towards a renewable energy future that is cleaner, safer, and more economic.
“We urge African leaders to co-create a just development path together with African people that are clean, pan-African, and champions people’s regenerative economies away from fossil fuels. We should not allow further colonial and extractive systems to put Africa on a destructive path of fossil fuel extraction,” said Lorraine Chiponda, Coordinator for Africa Climate Movements Building Space.
Emphasizing that a rapid and just transition to renewable energy is a golden opportunity for Africa to reinvigorate its development and achieve its Agenda 2063 vision. Stating that Africa should not be misled by three false promises of fossil gas: i) jobs, ii) energy access, and iii) renewable transition: i) On Jobs, the gas expansion will not lead to a boom in jobs.
According to the CSOs fossil fuel production has insufficiencies like:
According to Landry Ninteretse, 350Africa.org Regional Director, there is no place for the expansion of fossil gas in the energy transition in Africa, as it would crowd out resources for renewable energy and dull any hopes for the transition. Further urging African leaders to reject the push for gas production in Africa and instead galvanize resources from developed nations to support renewable, community-centered, and accessible clean energy systems vital to achieving a just energy transition in the region.
“We’re in a climate emergency that is causing increasingly devastating climate impacts, particularly in Africa where adaptation capacity is still low. African countries cannot bear the world’s challenges on their own. This calls for urgent action to build resilience to climate challenges through the abandonment of fossil fuels and a just energy transition to renewable energy,” added Landry Ninteretse.
Moreover, Courtney Morgan, Campaigner for African Climate Reality Project added that Gas is a bridge to nowhere and will not address energy access challenges on our continent. Decision-makers and policymakers should be supporting sustainable solutions; for a fossil-free Africa.
“The Africa we want is one where the energy system is clean and sustainable and brings real access to African people. The neocolonial gas project on our continent will not serve our needs and will exacerbate the climate crisis, we need African-led sustainable solutions,” said Courtney Morgan.