Somalia Joins East Africa Trade Bloc as It Eyes New Opportunities

The East African Com­mu­ni­ty trade bloc admit­ted Soma­lia as its eighth mem­ber on Fri­day, a move Soma­li author­i­ties and busi­ness­es hope will boost the coun­try’s war-rav­aged econ­o­my. The EAC com­mon mar­ket — which con­sists of Burun­di, Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic of Con­go, Kenya, Rwan­da, South Sudan, Tan­za­nia and Ugan­da — was set up in 2010 and currently…

Ambassador Diallo names the African nation that can reach final of 2022 World Cup

African cham­pi­ons Sene­gal have been tipped to reach the final of the 2022 World Cup com­ing up in QatarSene­gal’s Ambas­sador to Qatar Dr Mohammed Dial­lo is of the view that his coun­try can reach the final­Sa­dio Mane and his team­mates are in Group A and will be fac­ing Qatar, Ecuador and the Nether­lands­Dr Mohammed Dial­lo who is the Ambas­sador of Sene­gal to Qatar has stat­ed emphat­i­cal­ly that his nation can reach the final of the 2022 World Cup con­sid­er­ing their sta­tus as African champions.Bayern Munich strik­er Sadio Mane will be lead­ing his oth­er team­mates in the Sene­galese nation­al team to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar which will be start­ing on 20 November.There is no doubt about the fact that the Sene­galese nation­al team are one of the strongest in the world going by the play­ers they parade in the first team.Read alsoBanyana Banyana looks to rebound quick­ly after Brazil­ian real­i­ty check­Am­bas­sador Dial­lo tips Sene­gal to reach final of 2022 World Cup.
Pho­to by Ayman Aref­Source: Get­ty Ima­gesIn the his­to­ry of the FIFA World Cup, no African nation has ever reached the final, but Dr Mohammed Dial­lo believes Sene­gal can break the record accord­ing to the reports on Com­plete Sports and Penisular.Exciting fea­ture: Check out news exact­ly for YOU ➡️ find “Rec­om­mend­ed for you” block and enjoy!Dr Mohammed Dial­lo’s reac­tion about Sene­gal’s cam­paign for 2022 World Cup“I’m hon­oured as a Sene­galese to be part of this his­toric World Cup which is held in the Mid­dle East for the first time.“Like every Sene­galese fan, I hope my nation­al team will progress far into the tour­na­ment and per­haps even play in the semi-final and final. We are African cham­pi­ons and it isn’t impos­si­ble con­sid­er­ing our players.“The Sene­galese fans in Qatar and those com­ing from abroad for the World Cup, of which we expect at least 3,000, have been antic­i­pat­ing this event with eager­ness. They’ll be the 12th Lion.”Read also1998 World Cup win­ner believes Ghana can reach the final in Qatar 2022Ghana’s Black Galax­ies beat Nigeria’s Super Eagles Team B to CHAN tick­et on penaltiesEar­li­er, Sports Brief had report­ed how Black Galax­ies of Ghana have secured qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the Africa Nations Cham­pi­onship (CHAN) to be held in Alge­ria next year. Hav­ing won the first leg 2–0 in Kumasi, Ghana head­ed for the reverse fix­ture at the Mos­hood Abi­o­la Sta­di­um, know­ing that a draw will do. How­ev­er, the Super Eagles B put up a hard-fight­ing per­for­mance with goals from Zulk­i­filu Mohammed in the 76th minute and Chi­jioke Akune­to in the 94th minute send­ing the game into a penal­ty shootout where Ghana edged Nige­ria 5–4. Ghana return to CHAN, hav­ing missed the last three edi­tions of the tour­na­ment, while Nige­ria miss the com­pe­ti­tion back-to-back. Source: Sports Brief News

African nations eye debt-for-climate swaps as IMF takes an interest

Cli­mate vul­ner­a­ble nations in Africa are show­ing grow­ing inter­est in debt-for-cli­mate swaps to address bal­loon­ing debt and spur cli­mate invest­ments. Increas­ing­ly, they have the ear of finan­cial institutions.Today, 58% of the world’s poor­est coun­tries are in debt dis­tress or at high risk of it. In sub-Saha­ran Africa, Covid-19 has squeezed bud­gets and pushed aver­age debt lev­els above 60% of GDP.
Helene Gichen­je is the Commonwealth’s region­al cli­mate finance advis­er for Africa. Russia’s war in Ukraine and ris­ing glob­al infla­tion “are like­ly to sig­nif­i­cant­ly wors­en the debt cri­sis,” she said at Africa Cli­mate Week in Gabon on Wednesday.
High lev­els of debt repay­ments and a shrink­ing fis­cal space have pre­vent­ed much-need­ed invest­ments in cli­mate resilience, Gichen­je said. And cli­mate vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty is dri­ving up the cost of access­ing capital.
“There is dan­ger that the vul­ner­a­ble devel­op­ing coun­tries will enter a vicious cycle,” she said.
The IMF, the Green Cli­mate Fund and the African Devel­op­ment Bank increas­ing­ly sup­port debt-for-cli­mate swaps as a solution.
Nige­ria plans gas-led tran­si­tion to full ener­gy access and net zero emissions
Debt swaps mean that instead of mak­ing pay­ments to cred­i­tors on out­stand­ing loans, debtor coun­tries can use that mon­ey in local cur­ren­cy to invest in cli­mate projects under terms agreed with creditors.
This form of debt relief has been around for 30 years but hasn’t seen much use. Despite some pos­i­tive exam­ples, includ­ing a debt-for-nature swap in the Sey­chelles, the IMF esti­mates that only up to $4bn worth of debt has been for­giv­en under swap programmes.
Fis­cal space
Cabo Verde, Eswa­ti­ni and Kenya are among nations look­ing into how to make debt-for-cli­mate swaps work for them.
“Debt swaps could be a good instru­ment to give us space in our bud­get for new invest­ments in renew­able ener­gy and the blue and green econ­o­my,” Soeli San­tos, trea­sury direc­tor at Cabo Verde’s min­istry of finance, told the event.
In exchange for par­tial debt for­give­ness, Cabo Verde would, for exam­ple, meet some of the com­mit­ments made in its 2030 cli­mate plan, San­tos said.
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The prin­ci­ple gen­er­at­ed sig­nif­i­cant inter­est dur­ing a meet­ing of African cli­mate experts in Ethiopia last month as part of dis­cus­sion on cli­mate finance.
The Egypt­ian Cop27 pres­i­den­cy is con­sid­er­ing launch­ing a debt swap frame­work at the cli­mate sum­mit in November.
And a num­ber of finan­cial insti­tu­tions have start­ed to explore how to scale up the relief swaps can provide.
IMF guidance
Last month, an IMF work­ing paper, co-authored by the fund’s deputy chief in the debt depart­ment, con­clud­ed that, in some cir­cum­stances, debt-for-cli­mate swaps made eco­nom­ic sense.
“There is a space for debt-for-cli­mate swaps in the broad­er cli­mate finance toolk­it,” said IMF senior econ­o­mist Vimal Thakoor. “In many coun­tries, grants are not forth­com­ing nec­es­sar­i­ly and debt relief is not nec­es­sar­i­ly on the table either.”
How­ev­er, in coun­tries with high lev­els of debt dis­tress, swaps should not replace broad­er debt restruc­tur­ing pro­grammes, the paper argues.
Scal­ing up debt swaps requires bring­ing on board a large pool of pri­vate and offi­cial coun­try cred­i­tors. That is no small task but some­thing cred­i­tors might be will­ing to do to sup­port cli­mate goals, it added.
G20 Bali meet­ing high­lights Indonesia’s weak cli­mate action
Although the paper hasn’t been endorsed by the IMF’s board and man­age­ment, Paul Steele, chief econ­o­mist at the Inter­na­tion­al Insti­tute for Envi­ron­ment and Devel­op­ment (IIED), told Cli­mate Home it could be “poten­tial­ly game-chang­ing” should it gain polit­i­cal backing.
“The IMF has the cred­i­bil­i­ty and the most lever­age to bring togeth­er cred­i­tors in a way that would allow them to take for­ward this kind of inter­na­tion­al ini­tia­tive,” he said. “An inter­na­tion­al ini­tia­tive on debt swaps for cli­mate and nature out­comes at Cop27 could break the log­jam on cli­mate finance.”
The IMF is not alone in explor­ing options to move this forward.
Andrey Chicherin, head of inno­va­tion and tech­nol­o­gy trans­fer at the Green Cli­mate Fund, told the meet­ing that the fund could act as an inter­me­di­ary in debt swaps by design­ing adap­ta­tion and car­bon-cut­ting pro­grammes and ensure their deliv­ery against the fund’s ver­i­fi­ca­tion sys­tems and safeguards.
The African Devel­op­ment Bank is final­is­ing a fea­si­bil­i­ty study on scal­ing up debt-for-cli­mate and nature swaps in Africa. This is to inform advice to nations on debt relief options.

South Africa’s Ramaphosa and US’s Biden to meet amid Russian war — Al Jazeera

Biden and Ramaphosa, who spoke by phone in April, are expect­ed to focus their talks on trade and invest­ment, infra­struc­ture, cli­mate and ener­gy, among oth­er issues.South African Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa and Unit­ed States Pres­i­dent Joe Biden will meet on Sep­tem­ber 16, the White House has announced.
Thursday’s announce­ment comes as the admin­is­tra­tion looks to draw African nations clos­er to the US at a time when South Africa and many of its neigh­bours have staked out neu­tral ground on Russia’s inva­sion of Ukraine.
Last month, US Sec­re­tary of State Antony Blinken said the Biden admin­is­tra­tion sees Africa’s 54 nations as “equal part­ners” in tack­ling glob­al prob­lems, dur­ing a vis­it to South Africa.
But the admin­is­tra­tion has been dis­ap­point­ed that South Africa and much of the con­ti­nent have declined to fol­low the US in con­demn­ing the Russ­ian inva­sion of Ukraine.
South Africa abstained in a Unit­ed Nations vote to con­demn Russia’s action, and Ramaphosa has avoid­ed any crit­i­cism of Rus­sia and has instead called for a medi­at­ed peace.
Biden and Ramaphosa, who spoke by phone in April, are expect­ed to focus their talks on trade and invest­ment, infra­struc­ture, cli­mate and ener­gy, pub­lic health and South Africa’s lead­ing role on the con­ti­nent, offi­cials said.
“The two Pres­i­dents will reaf­firm the impor­tance of our endur­ing part­ner­ship, and dis­cuss our work togeth­er to address region­al and glob­al chal­lenges,” White House press sec­re­tary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a state­ment announc­ing this month’s meeting.
Biden also plans to host a US-Africa lead­ers’ sum­mit in December.
Dur­ing the Blinken vis­it, for­eign min­is­ter Nale­di Pan­dor main­tained South Africa’s neu­tral­i­ty in the Ukraine war. In a press brief­ing fol­low­ing the meet­ing, Pan­dor accused the US and oth­er West­ern pow­ers of focus­ing on the Ukraine con­flict to the detri­ment of oth­er inter­na­tion­al issues.
“We should be equal­ly con­cerned at what is hap­pen­ing to the peo­ple of Pales­tine, as we are with what is hap­pen­ing to the peo­ple of Ukraine,” she said.
Blinken, for his part, under­scored that Russia’s block­ade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports has led to scarci­ties in grain, cook­ing oil and fer­tilis­er — an issue that has had dis­pro­por­tion­ate effects on Africans.
“The US is there for African coun­tries in this unprece­dent­ed cri­sis, because that’s what part­ners do for each oth­er,” Blinken said. “The Unit­ed States will not dic­tate Africa’s choic­es, and nei­ther should any­one else. The right to make these choic­es belongs to Africans, and Africans alone.”
South Africa’s neu­tral posi­tion is large­ly because of the sup­port the Sovi­et Union gave dur­ing the Cold War era to Ramaphosa’s African Nation­al Con­gress in its fight to end apartheid – South Africa’s regime of repres­sion against the Black major­i­ty that end­ed in 1994. South Africa is seen as a leader of sev­er­al African coun­tries that will not side against Russia.
The Biden meet­ing will come at a crit­i­cal time for Ramaphosa, who is fac­ing crit­i­cism from oppo­si­tion par­ties and from with­in his own par­ty for a scan­dal over rev­e­la­tions that $4m was stolen from his cat­tle ranch.
He has been grilled this week by mem­bers of par­lia­ment about whether the for­eign cash had been prop­er­ly reg­is­tered with South Africa’s finan­cial author­i­ties and why he did not imme­di­ate­ly report the theft. The scan­dal has dam­aged Ramaphosa’s rep­u­ta­tion as a leader com­mit­ted to bat­tling his nation’s ram­pant corruption.
Ramaphosa faces sig­nif­i­cant oppo­si­tion in his efforts to be re-elect­ed as the leader of his par­ty at a con­fer­ence in Decem­ber. If he fails to win the par­ty lead­er­ship he will not be able to stand for re-elec­tion as South Africa’s pres­i­dent in 2024.
South Africa’s econ­o­my has been in reces­sion since even before the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic and a third of the coun­try is unem­ployed, so Ramaphosa would wel­come any announce­ment of eco­nom­ic sup­port from the US.
Dur­ing Blinken’s vis­it to South Africa last month, he praised South Africa and Ramaphosa for achiev­ing a mul­ti-racial democ­ra­cy after years of white minor­i­ty rule. He also used the vis­it to for­mal­ly launch a new US strat­e­gy towards sub-Saha­ran Africa.

Why the US is re-engaging with Africa — Financial Times

Don­ald Trump thought it was full of “shit­holes” and coun­tries with names such as “Nam­bia”. Barack Oba­ma, for all his elo­quence and fam­i­ly ties to Kenya, was under­whelm­ing when it came to defin­ing a prac­ti­cal strat­e­gy towards Africa — a con­ti­nent that always slipped behind oth­er regions in the list of pri­or­i­ties. You have to go back to George W Bush, par­tic­u­lar­ly his prin­ci­pled stance in fight­ing the Aids epi­dem­ic, or Bill Clin­ton, with his Africa Growth and Oppor­tu­ni­ty Act, a pref­er­en­tial trade pact, for an Amer­i­can leader with a com­pelling offer­ing. If the US has been rel­a­tive­ly low key, oth­ers have not. Since the turn of the cen­tu­ry, Chi­na has moved from a bit-part play­er to the main investor and trad­ing part­ner for many coun­tries from Ango­la to Ethiopia. Much of the infra­struc­ture that has sprung up across the con­ti­nent has been built by Chi­nese com­pa­nies. Out­side the extrac­tive indus­tries, Amer­i­can com­pa­nies have been slow­er to see com­mer­cial oppor­tu­ni­ties than those from emerg­ing nations such as Turkey and India. More recent­ly, Rus­sia has pur­sued a cut-price diplo­ma­cy, send­ing mer­ce­nar­ies to Mali and the Cen­tral African Repub­lic to prop up dic­ta­tor­ships and shady companies.President Joe Biden is now seek­ing to redress the bal­ance. The ret­i­cence of African states to vote with the west in con­demn­ing Russia’s inva­sion of Ukraine (26 refused to do so) may have sharp­ened his think­ing. Diplo­mat­ic engage­ment has been stepped up. Wash­ing­ton will hold a US-Africa sum­mit in Decem­ber, the first in eight years. Biden has reversed a deci­sion by the Trump admin­is­tra­tion to draw down US troops from Soma­lia and the Sahel, both regions of per­sis­tent ter­ror­ist threat. Antony Blinken, sec­re­tary of state, has made two tours of the con­ti­nent, the lat­est in August when he swept through the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic of Con­go and Rwan­da. In South Africa, he launched what was billed as a reset of rela­tions. As he said, the 54 coun­tries that make up the con­ti­nent play a more impor­tant role in world affairs than is wide­ly recog­nised. By 2050, one in four peo­ple on Earth will be African. If a major­i­ty are flour­ish­ing, they will be a source of huge dynamism and ideas. If many are floun­der­ing, they will fuel the prob­lems of uncon­trolled migra­tion and unstop­pable deforestation.A third of the min­er­als that will be need­ed for the tran­si­tion to sus­tain­able ener­gy lie beneath African soil. African peo­ple — and not just their elites — must ben­e­fit from the poten­tial wind­fall with more trans­for­ma­tion of raw mate­ri­als on the con­ti­nent itself. In the Con­go Basin rain­for­est, cen­tral African states host the world’s sec­ond-largest lung. African cap­i­tals mar­shal a quar­ter of UN votes. A Niger­ian heads the World Trade Orga­ni­za­tion and an Ethiopi­an leads the World Health Organ­i­sa­tion. The pol­i­cy paper that under­lies the new approach lays out broad strate­gic objec­tives. Wash­ing­ton will sup­port open soci­eties, democ­ra­cies, recov­ery from the shock of the pan­dem­ic and a just ener­gy tran­si­tion (for which read: it won’t oppose gas). Wash­ing­ton will work with its “African part­ners”: a phrase intend­ed to con­vey that it is lis­ten­ing, not hectoring.The US offer­ing is posi­tioned in delib­er­ate con­trast to what it calls China’s “nar­row com­mer­cial and geopo­lit­i­cal inter­ests” and the Russ­ian view of Africa as a play­ground for pri­vate mil­i­tary com­pa­nies. What are African gov­ern­ments to make of this? Many were not impressed with US lead­er­ship dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, when the west gob­bled up avail­able vac­cines and left Africans to fend for them­selves. (Biden’s sup­port for over­rid­ing intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty on Covid vac­cine tech­nol­o­gy was seen as an impor­tant excep­tion). The US — with its con­test­ed elec­tions and rolling back of lib­er­ties — has also some­what lost the demo­c­ra­t­ic high ground.Chidi Odinkalu of the Fletch­er School of Law and Diplo­ma­cy at Tufts Uni­ver­si­ty detects a cold war throw­back. “The US has come to the con­clu­sion that, if they don’t re-engage, they will be aban­don­ing Africa to Rus­sia and Chi­na.” Still, Alex Vines, direc­tor of the Africa Pro­gramme at the UK think-tank Chatham House, sees an oppor­tu­ni­ty for the con­ti­nent. “This is Africa’s moment,” he says of the multi­na­tion­al engage­ment. How­ev­er shaky, the US with its deep well of wealth, inno­va­tion and demo­c­ra­t­ic ideals is a part­ner worth court­ing, he says. If diplo­ma­cy is trans­ac­tion­al, then the coun­tries of Africa should get ready to deal.

‘Like no other’: The African Festival of Arts returns to Chicago this weekend — CBS News

CHICAGO (CBS) – This week­end, Wash­ing­ton Park on Chicago’s South Side will host one of the city’s most pop­u­lar and riv­et­ing events: the African Fes­ti­val of the Arts.It was side­lined for two years because of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic and, as CBS 2’s Jim Williams told us, the event returns this year under the ban­ner “Back to Cul­ture, Back to Tradition.“Dana East­er’s cre­ations are the result of painstak­ing and pre­cise work.“I dye it. I paint it. I print it. I silk screen it,” East­er said. “So, it is art, but it’s just to wear.“It’s called wear­able art and it’s on the backs of peo­ple around the world.

“I’ve had peo­ple say ‘I was in Lon­don and I saw your t‑shirt or I saw your out­fit. I knew it was Dana,’ ” she said.Williams: “This week though, you’re in one spot.Easter: “I’m in one spot, the African Fes­ti­val of the Arts.“The African Fes­ti­val of the Arts, which return this week­end after a two-year hia­tus, will fea­ture every con­ceiv­able expres­sion of Black cul­ture: paint­ings, sculp­tures, fash­ion, food and music.

“This fes­ti­val is very impor­tant to me,” said Dayo Laoye, an artist and Niger­ian native.The art fes­ti­val reflects the rich spir­it and tra­di­tions that artists like Laoye found in Chica­go when he moved to the city 32 years ago.“The African cul­ture for the last 400 years is still embed­ded in some part of Amer­i­ca and some peo­ple, espe­cial­ly here on the South and West Side in Chica­go,” he said. “So find­ing Africa here made me stay longer.“The African Fes­ti­val of the Arts, Laoye said, has helped cre­ate a big­ger mar­ket for the work of Black artists, includ­ing his own.“They rep­re­sent all the ges­tures of our moods as Black peo­ple in Amer­i­ca,” he said, adding, “Through this fes­ti­val, I was able to build my clientele.“Patrick Wood­tor found­ed the fes­ti­val 33 years ago and has watched it blos­som into a “nation­al attraction.”“This is like a fam­i­ly reunion every year,” Wood­ton said. “Every year and peo­ple come as far as Cal­i­for­nia, New York, Florida.”

And Wood­tor said it’s sparked sim­i­lar fes­ti­val across the country.“I’m so excit­ed about it,” said Easter.But this week­end, the cen­ter of the Black art world will be in Chicago’s Wash­ing­ton Park.“It’s just an excit­ing week­end for fam­i­ly, for art, enter­tain­ment,” East­er said. “It’s like no other.“CBS 2 is a proud media spon­sor of the fes­ti­val. It runs Fri­day through Mon­day, Labor Day, in Wash­ing­ton Park.For more infor­ma­tion on the event, vis­it

China to forgive 23 ‘belt and road’ loans to 17 African countries — Pinsent Masons

Chi­na will con­tin­ue to help with the con­struc­tion of major infra­struc­ture projects in Africa via financ­ing, invest­ment and assis­tance, the min­is­ter said in a speech at a recent meet­ing of the Chi­na-Africa coop­er­a­tion forum.
The coun­try will also be increas­ing imports from Africa, help­ing to devel­op Africa’s agri­cul­tur­al and man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tors, and expand­ing co-oper­a­tion in emerg­ing indus­tries such as the dig­i­tal econ­o­my, health, and green and low-car­bon sectors.
The lat­est announce­ment fol­lows China’s can­cel­la­tion of at least 94 inter­est-free loans amount­ing to over US$3.4 bil­lion in Africa between 2000 and 2019.
Finance expert Kanyi Lui of Pin­sent Masons said: “Chi­na has been for­giv­ing inter­est-free loans made to devel­op­ing coun­tries for almost half a cen­tu­ry. When many African coun­tries expe­ri­enced debt dis­tress in the 1980s to 1990s, Chi­na for­gave over 85% of inter­est free loans then out­stand­ing. This lat­est announce­ment shows China’s con­tin­ued lead­er­ship in work­ing with devel­op­ing coun­tries in debt distress.” 
“As the BRI [Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive] starts to shift its focus from mega infra­struc­ture projects to ‘small and beau­ti­ful’ projects which focus on sus­tain­abil­i­ty, rais­ing liv­ing stan­dards and social impact, devel­op­ing coun­tries would do well to care­ful­ly con­sid­er their own their inter­ests and devel­op­men­tal needs and how to engage with Chi­na in a man­ner that would max­imise the wel­fare of their peo­ple,” he said.
As of 2020, the African nations with the high­est exter­nal debt to Chi­na as a per­cent­age of gross nation­al income are Dji­bouti (43%), Ango­la (41%) and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic of Con­go (29%), accord­ing to World Bank data cit­ed in press reports.

As Europe eyes Africa’s gas reserves, environmentalists sound the alarm — Mongabay

In the wake of an ener­gy cri­sis caused by Russia’s inva­sion of Ukraine, Euro­pean coun­tries are turn­ing to Africa for its nat­ur­al gas reserves.The move is a turn­around from recent years, when many of the same coun­tries vowed to stop financ­ing fos­sil fuel projects on the continent.Some African heads of state, along with their allies in indus­try, have wel­comed the change, say­ing gas extrac­tion will help finance the tran­si­tion to renewables.But envi­ron­men­tal advo­cates on the con­ti­nent are push­ing back, say­ing that a new era of fos­sil fuel extrac­tion will cre­ate more mis­ery and harm the cli­mate. It was a vic­to­ry for African cli­mate cam­paign­ers and their allies in Europe and the Unit­ed States: a group of pow­er­ful coun­tries and insti­tu­tions includ­ing the U.S., Cana­da and the Euro­pean Invest­ment Bank announced at last year’s COP26 cli­mate sum­mit in Glas­gow, Scot­land, that they would end decades of sup­port for oil and gas projects in Africa by the end of 2022. Com­ing on the heels of a World Bank com­mit­ment to start phas­ing out sup­port for fos­sil fuels, it looked like a poten­tial death knell for plans to exploit vast quan­ti­ties of nat­ur­al gas in Sene­gal, Mozam­bique and Nigeria.
And then Rus­sia invad­ed Ukraine.
In the span of less than a year, gas projects in Africa have come back in style, as Euro­pean coun­tries scram­ble to make up for ener­gy short­falls caused by their stand­off with Rus­sia. In late May, for exam­ple, Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Olaf Scholz trav­eled to Sene­gal for talks with Pres­i­dent Macky Sall over his inter­est in secur­ing a steady sup­ply of gas from the country’s BP-backed off­shore fields. And on Aug. 16, Reuters report­ed that the EU plans to sig­nif­i­cant­ly ramp up secu­ri­ty assis­tance for Mozambique’s trou­bled Cabo Del­ga­do gas project, which in recent years has been the site of a dead­ly Islamist insur­gency and at one point not long ago was thought to be on life support.
To some African gov­ern­ments, the turn­around is wel­come, rep­re­sent­ing a need­ed course cor­rec­tion away from cli­mate restric­tions that threat­ened to block their plans to use gas reserves for eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment and boost­ing ener­gy access for the poor. In a speech at Glas­gow last year, Niger­ian Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari crit­i­cized the COP26 announce­ment, and ear­li­er this year in an op-ed for The Econ­o­mist his vice pres­i­dent, Yemi Osin­ba­jo, wrote that Africa “can­not accept regres­sive cli­mate pol­i­cy as anoth­er injustice.”
Nige­ria has the continent’s largest proven nat­ur­al gas reserves, fol­lowed by Alge­ria, Sene­gal, Mozam­bique and Egypt. All are advo­cates for the use of nat­ur­al gas as a “tran­si­tion fuel,” which their lead­ers say will facil­i­tate eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment and help smooth the way for invest­ment into renew­ables like solar, wind and hydropower.
The needs are clear: access to ener­gy in Africa is far low­er than in oth­er regions. More than 600 mil­lion of the continent’s 1.3 bil­lion peo­ple live with­out elec­tric­i­ty, and despite hav­ing only one-tenth the over­all pop­u­la­tion, in 2019 Japan alone con­sumed more pow­er than all African coun­tries com­bined did.
But as their pres­i­dents ink deals behind closed doors, civ­il soci­ety orga­ni­za­tions on the con­ti­nent are push­ing back, most recent­ly at the African Union, where an “African Com­mon Posi­tion on Ener­gy Access and Tran­si­tion” call­ing for nat­ur­al gas to be part of Africa’s ener­gy strat­e­gy was adopt­ed by the AU’s Exec­u­tive Coun­cil. In an open let­ter, a coali­tion of advo­ca­cy groups said the posi­tion was “dan­ger­ous and short-sighted.”
“It makes zero sense to pur­sue new oil and gas extrac­tion, which will make the cli­mate cri­sis worse and make achiev­ing cli­mate goals impos­si­ble,” said Thandile Chinya­van­hu, a cli­mate and ener­gy cam­paign­er with Green­peace Africa. “The future is renew­able, and African coun­tries have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to lead the world into a new future pow­ered by renew­able ener­gy, leav­ing dirty fos­sil fuels in the past and in the ground.”
A ren­di­tion of plans for onshore LNG infra­struc­ture in Cabo Del­ga­do, Mozam­bique, planned for con­struc­tion by France’s TotalEnergies.
A detailed memo accom­pa­ny­ing the let­ter crit­i­cized efforts to expand gas pro­duc­tion, say­ing that addi­tion­al fos­sil fuel extrac­tion risked wors­en­ing the impacts of cli­mate change in Africa and that prof­its were like­ly to again be cap­tured pri­mar­i­ly by for­eign investors. The memo cit­ed the continent’s decades-long track record of fail­ing to devel­op through oil and gas extrac­tion, describ­ing it as “enabling small pow­er­ful elites to extract rents and main­tain eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal con­trol, while their pop­u­la­tions lack access to ener­gy, food and oth­er essen­tial ser­vices and remain impoverished.”
“We’ve seen this in Nige­ria and African coun­tries with fos­sil fuel projects,” said Lor­raine Chipon­da, coor­di­na­tor of the Africa Coal Net­work, one of the letter’s sig­na­to­ries. “You can see the pover­ty that even the com­mu­ni­ties that live in the same areas are suf­fer­ing from, so it still doesn’t make eco­nom­ic sense.”
The letter’s authors crit­i­cized the idea that gas could be a bridge to a renew­able ener­gy grid. It was more like­ly, they wrote, that infra­struc­ture like pipelines and gas-fired pow­er plants would suck finance and atten­tion away from green energy.
Some sup­port­ers of gas projects in Africa acknowl­edge the poor track record of nat­ur­al resource extrac­tion on the con­ti­nent. In Mozam­bique, for exam­ple, the dis­cov­ery of large off­shore gas reserves was fol­lowed almost imme­di­ate­ly by a mas­sive cor­rup­tion scan­dal that impli­cat­ed senior offi­cials as well as Euro­pean bankers.
But ana­lysts like Imad Ahmed, an ener­gy and cli­mate advis­er at the Tony Blair Insti­tute for Glob­al Change, say that, with the right approach, those pri­or scan­dals could inform stronger poli­cies that ensure for­eign investors pay their fair share and avoid dam­ag­ing the environment.
“By remain­ing financiers of gas devel­op­ment, OECD nations can ensure that these good gov­er­nance struc­tures are embed­ded into con­trac­tu­al oblig­a­tions,” Ahmed told Mongabay.
Sup­port­ers of gas extrac­tion point out that African coun­tries are among the low­est per-capi­ta car­bon emit­ters on the plan­et, and that expect­ing them to for­go the use of their nat­ur­al resources to clean up a mess made large­ly by for­mer colo­nial pow­ers is inher­ent­ly hypocritical.
“The pros­per­i­ty we expe­ri­ence in Europe is on the back of his­toric emis­sions. You can’t pre­tend that it isn’t,” Ahmed said.
Envi­ron­men­tal advo­cates agree, but they say that the appro­pri­ate resti­tu­tion would be for wealth­i­er coun­tries to pro­vide the sup­port and finance for the tran­si­tion to renew­ables — as they have promised to do in the past — rather than dou­bling down on their his­to­ry of exploit­ing the continent’s resources for their own gain.
“Even before the cli­mate cri­sis, many com­mu­ni­ties and civ­il soci­ety groups in Africa and around the world were fight­ing fos­sil fuel explo­ration due to its impacts on people’s liveli­hoods and the increased pover­ty, human rights vio­la­tions, land grab­bing, and cor­rup­tion it brings,” said Anabela Lemos, founder of Mozambique’s Justiça Ambiental.
Last year, Shell agreed to pay more than $100 mil­lion in dam­ages for spilling vast quan­ti­ties of oil in the Niger Delta dur­ing the 1970s.
Whether or not wealthy coun­tries owe African coun­tries com­pen­sa­tion for cli­mate change is like­ly to be a con­tentious issue at November’s COP27 cli­mate sum­mit, which will be held in Egypt. The G7 group of rich­est coun­tries man­aged to keep the issue of “loss and dam­age” off their agen­da at ini­tial talks in Ger­many held in June, but most observers expect it to take cen­ter stage at COP27.
For many influ­en­tial heads of state and busi­ness lead­ers in Africa, the reluc­tance of rich coun­tries to pro­vide ade­quate cli­mate fund­ing to their less well-off coun­ter­parts is itself an argu­ment in favor of exploit­ing the continent’s gas reserves.
“Deny­ing Africa’s right to devel­op and use its own gas is moral­ly unac­cept­able,” said the Sudanese-British bil­lion­aire Mo Ibrahim ear­li­er this year.
Despite their rel­a­tive lack of resources and pow­er, though, African envi­ron­men­tal­ists aren’t going down with­out a fight. In the wake of the con­tro­ver­sy over the AU’s pro­posed pro-gas stance, the lead nego­tia­tors set to rep­re­sent the con­ti­nent at COP27 said they would not adopt it as their offi­cial posi­tion. It was a vic­to­ry for the anti-gas coali­tion, but advo­cates say if Europe stays on its cur­rent course, it could ush­er in a new era of fos­sil fuel extrac­tion in Africa — and make a green tran­si­tion that much harder.
“For now the deci­sion has been reject­ed, but it doesn’t mean that indi­vid­ual gov­ern­ments in Africa aren’t sign­ing deals with gov­ern­ments in Europe,” Chipon­da said. “So we have to con­tin­ue push­ing back on that.”
Ban­ner image: Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Olaf Scholz vis­its with South African Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa in May 2022. Pho­to by Stef­fen Kugler for Die Bundesregierung.