Africa aims to ramp up its licensing rounds

With over 600 million people without access to electricity, Africa sees oil and gas resources central to its progress and development

Africa has hit back at Europe’s call to decarbonise and said natural resources like oil and gas offer the continent a chance to accelerate development.

The continent has the world’s fastest growing population, the youngest population, and some of the world’s fastest growing economies,

Oil and gas will enable Africa to improve access to energy and lift the over 600 million people across the continent out of energy poverty; significantly reduce the continent’s dependence on energy imports; and provide the much-needed revenue which African governments can utilise to fund infrastructure rollout in various sectors including energy, mining, transportation and health which are vital for economic stability.

Despite holding some of the world’s largest oil, gas and coal reserves – estimated at 125.3 billion barrels of crude oil, 620 trillion cu ft of gas and nearly 16.4 billion short tonnes of coal - Africa’s development has been slow, largely due to natural resource exports, refined product imports, the lack of adequate infrastructure and the lack of adequate investment and reinvestment in key sectors.

Leoncio Amada Nze, President of African Energy Chamber CEMAC, said: "For years Africa has been told to stop using its oil and gas resources, even if those very resources are the solution to making energy poverty history. Now, faced with their own energy security crisis, Europe is pushing for new oil and gas licensing rounds to increase exploration, production and oil and gas utilisation. How is it that Africa must decarbonise while Europe continues to industrialise? It seems that the saying do as I say and not as I do is clear, even in the energy space.

European countries like the UK and Norway continue to hold licensing rounds intended to scale-up exploration and production.

Nze said Africa will "not do as they say".

"We deserve to develop our oil and gas to make energy poverty history. In 2022, Africa needs to ramp up its licensing rounds, drive exploration and position itself as the primary supplier for domestic and global markets."

African countries have already made progress with the introduction of licensing rounds in 2020 and 2021.

According to the African Energy Chamber’s (AEC) Q1 2022 Outlook, the results of some 14 licensing rounds are expected to be announced this year while other rounds in Ivory Coast, Senegal, Algeria, the Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Uganda and Kenya are expected to be introduced in 2022 and 2023.

But despite that implementation and execution is often slow and deters investors. In this regard, Africa needs to take a lesson from Europe, fast tracking these rounds and approvals so that the development of oil and gas can be accelerated.