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African Petro-Politics in the Age of Renewables

African Petro-Politics in the Age of Renewables

Renewable energy projects and production are on the rise around the world, as part of an effort to meet global climate goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. An energy revolution is needed not only in high-emitting countries, but also in poorer regions of the world with lower emissions but that seek to develop economically, such as Africa. Africa is the continent with the largest share of the world’s poor and the lowest rates of electrification. The region desperately needs an environmentally-friendly energy revolution to lift its people out of poverty and to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Yet, while the number of renewable energy projects are rising on the African continent, the region currently relies mostly on fossil fuels (oil and gas) as well as biomass to meet its energy needs. Oil and gas are vital energy sources for many African countries; oil meets around 23% of Africa’s energy needs, and natural gas around 16% (IRENA 2022). Fossil fuels are critical both for domestic energy consumption as well as for generating export revenues in petroleum-producing countries. On average, oil and gas makes up approximately 40% of Africa’s exports (IRENA 2022). The continent’s long-standing petroleum producers (such as Nigeria and Angola) continue to produce oil for export, while new oil and gas discoveries are propelling additional countries like Uganda, Namibia, and Senegal to ramp up fossil fuel projects as European countries search for alternative energy producers. New oil discoveries are also seen as opportunities for economic development in some of the world’s poorest countries.

This panel explores African petro-politics in the ongoing global green energy transition. The papers explore questions such as:

  1. How do politicians and policy makers view the role of the petroleum sector in meeting Africa’s energy needs in the coming decade?
  2. What are the political and market drivers and incentives for continued petroleum production?
  3. What are the political, social, and economic contentions and challenges at local, national, and international levels around continued petroleum production in the African region?
  4. What is the relationship between renewable energy and fossil fuel energy sectors in bringing about a green energy transition in the African region?

Please contact Kendra Depuy (Western Washington University) by email at kendup@gmail.com by 20 March 2023.