“It is criminal for Africans to abandon oil and gas” – OPEC president
Speaking during the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington D.C. on 13 December, Equatorial Guinea’s Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons and OPEC President for 2023, HE Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, discussed the importance of oil and gas development in Africa and how exploitation of the continent’s natural resources will serve to reduce energy poverty while establishing an independent path to a just and inclusive energy transition.
With calls by Western forces for Africa to shift immediately away from the use of fossil fuels, Lima discussed how mounting pressure to abandon the continent’s natural resources has impacted Africa’s socioeconomic development. With dwindling oil and gas projects and major divestments occurring throughout the industry, Africa’s vast, newly discovered oil and natural gas assets are threatened.
“What we are not going to do, is abandon a resource that can change our countries,” Lima stated, adding, “We will continue drilling because we need it. Anyone asking African countries not to develop fossil fuels is criminal. It is criminal because they are telling us that we do not have the right to develop. The largest number of members of OPEC, this year, are African countries. Mozambique is going to become the biggest supplier of gas, Senegal will become a big supplier of gas, and Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea will become big suppliers of gas. So, in 2035, the African continent [will be] the biggest supplier of oil and gas.”
He argued that fossil fuels have an important role to play in the global energy transition and stand to bring reliable energy to 600 million Africans in sub-Sahara Africa who lack access to energy. As a catalyst for industrialization, economic growth, and greater stability for Africa, the exploitation of fossil fuels will be used to expand the continent’s wealth and energy security.
“We are not responsible for the climate crisis; the climate crisis has two players: the producers and the consumers. And what’s driving it is the demand. You need the resources to be able to develop and we will continue to do so. Whoever is willing to come to our country and develop, I guarantee you, you will make money.”
Serving as one of the continent’s most significant impediments to socioeconomic development, energy poverty eradication will require an immense, concerted effort, and necessitates the utilization of all energy resources available within Africa. As such, natural gas, which is found in abundance throughout Africa, will be a crucial tool to decarbonize the continent in pursuit of global climate sustainability goals.
Calling on African governments to push back on the attempts to prohibit the continent from paving the way for its own energy transition, Obiang Lima highlighted how oil and natural gas revenue, gas-to-power projects, and intercontinental collaboration can allow the continent to fully capitalize on the jobs and economic prospects associated with resource development. (APO Group on behalf of African Energy Week).