The Africa Energies Summit is taking place in the United Kingdom, London from May 16 to 18, 2023, to discuss investment and development opportunities for the continent’s fast changing energy landscape.
Energy is key to the growth and prosperity of any modern economy, and it is estimated that nearly one billion Africans lack access to clean, sustainable energy, yet Africa’s energy issues and projections for the future will be discussed in a different continent – outside the shores of Africa.
Nnimmo Bassey, Director of HOMEF said, “Africa is treated as just a geographical location for plunder and exploitation of its people and resources. This has also historically been done with the connivance of elites lurking in the shadows of ‘development’. A summit of this magnitude should take into account the true cost of the extractive industries’ activities on communities across the continent, instead of whitewashing its role in the extensive environmental cataclysm.”
Bassey continued, “In the coming years, Africa must be poised to scale up on renewable infrastructure development and investment. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Africa has 60% of the world’s best solar resources, but only 1% of solar generation capacity.”
High level speakers from Somalia, Angola, The Gambia, Malawi, Liberia, Egypt and Ghana, amongst others, are advocating for oil expansion on behalf of their governments, in partnership with oil and gas giants from
Europe like BP, Shell, ExxonMobile and TotalEnergies. Although Shell has recently signed a deal to sell its 30% stake in the Cambo Oilfield, it has not yet addressed its widespread and systemic pollution in Nigeria over the last sixty years.
Polluters in the summit are leaving onshore, nearshore and shallow waters, moving deep offshore, like in the case of Nigeria and leaving behind a trail of destruction with no consequence. The United Nations
Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has warned that leaders in countries investing in fossil fuel infrastructure will leave behind a legacy of debt to be carried for generations to come.
“This mass scale onslaught driven by the greed and profiteering of the fossil fuels industry must be addressed with governments, consistent with limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 °C with no or limited temperature overshoot, in line with reductions assessed in the IPCC in its Sixth Assessment Report.”
Some of the cases from fossil fuel extraction impacted communities
For more than six decades Shell’s relentless extraction in the Ogoni communities, Okrika, Ogulagha, Ikarama to Koloama and other communities in Benue, Kogi, has forced people to live with pollution – their water, land and air have been severely impacted. The average life expectancy of people in the region hovers around 41 years.
The western region of Ghana is made up of coastal communities and hosts a bulk of Ghana’s offshore oil and gas exploration and production fields. Fishers in areas like Axim and Half Assini are among
the worst hit by extractive processes. Activities like safety zones (radius of 500m) built around offshore oil installations, and the marine ecosystems potentially being destroyed, limit maritime fishing space which consequently affect the small-scale artisanal fisheries sector.
In the DRC, where exploration and exploitation of fossil fuels and other forms of extraction take place – have given rise to pollution, loss of livelihoods and biodiversity. These activities have also fueled armed conflicts in the region.
Senegal is being touted as Africa’s giant with investments coming from the German government, as well as the UK, Dutch, Swedish and Swiss governments, having invested $70 million in the country’s massive gas reserves. For the fishing communities in Saint Louis, this has led to degradation of livelihood with many women turning to prostitution for survival.
The EACOP project will present a multitude of environmental issues and risks non-compliance with several global and regional agreements as well as net-zero-emission targets set by the countries involved.
Unfortunately, some of these communities are also worst hit by the impacts of climate change – sandwiched between lethal climate change impacts and dangerous environmental effects from fossil fuels exploration and exploitation.