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North African oil and gas producers move on energy transition

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As the need for energy transformation gathers pace at a global level, North African countries are also starting to make moves. Image credit: Flickr.

31 July 2021 – As the need for energy transformation gathers pace at a global level, North African countries are also starting to make moves.

According to Mohamed Boussaîd, Tunisia’s Minister of Industry, Energy and Mines the country is determined to accelerate their energy transition over the next decade. “Our main aim is to achieve energy security through a diversified energy mix and to improve our economic competitiveness,” says Boussaîd.

Decarbonisation is instrumental for North African countries to achieve their climate and economic development ambitions. Change will not be easy though, as North Africa relies on energy exports to drive its economy, meaning that any substantial shift will require investment from more developed countries.

“The only way to move along… is a dramatic surge in clean energy investment,” says Tim Gould, co-lead author of the report ‘Clean Energy Transition in North Africa’ and head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) division for energy supply outlooks and investment.

“Countries are not starting this journey from the same point. Emerging countries in particular need the financing and knowledge to build their energy systems sustainably.”

The IEA is expanding its engagement with African regional partners through a programme to support sustainable and accelerated development through a varied mix of technologies, help achieve the United Nations’ sustainable Development Goal (SDG 7), promote increased energy security and affordability, and accelerate the development of clean energy systems across Africa.

Many North African countries are expected to benefit.

Putting in place a mechanism to ensure effective and transparent hydrocarbon revenue management is the essential first step. Maintaining upstream investment to ensure adequate production, especially for gas, also remains vital to provide economic stability.

However, this needs to be accompanied by greater efforts to reduce the environmental footprint of oil and gas operations, given that the emissions intensities of oil and gas production in North Africa are among the highest in the world.

Several players active in North Africa’s oil and gas space – producing countries, independent oil companies (IOCs), service-providers and others – are already signed up for Africa Oil Week in November this year, unfazed by and supportive of the event’s temporary move to Dubai as a Covid-19 safety measure. They look forward to Africa Oil Week moving “home” to Cape Town, South Africa next year.

The clean energy transition is squarely on the agenda for this year’s conference.

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