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During the opening Ministerial Panel at MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power 2022, a lineup of West African energy ministers explored the role domestic natural gas plays in developing regional economies while tackling the pressing issues of climate change and the energy transition from an African perspective

Highlighting this year’s high-level panel discussions at MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power 2022, the ministerial panel on “Developing a Domestic Natural Gas Economy in the MSGBC Region & Beyond'' unpacked the future of natural gas in West Africa and the role it will play in the region's energy future.

Abdoulie Jobe, minister of petroleum and energy of the Republic of The Gambia, stated, “We all know the basin is very rich in oil and gas resources. What we need to do is provide access to affordable, clean and sustainable energy. Gas is an integral element for transformational change.”

The advantages of gas for domestic economies were highlighted, with speakers emphasising the need to address energy poverty in Africa using gas. On this note, Abdessalam Ould Mohamed Salah, minister of petroleum, mines and energy of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, commented, “The real problem is how we get energy to every African citizen. Some Africans have been producing oil and gas for decades but we still have the highest energy poverty because we are exporting oil and gas. We need to give priority to access for every African citizen to energy and security.”

Further to this, extant global geopolitics were raised with specific reference to Europe’s current craving for West African gas in light of the fuel source’s green-labeling by the EU. “It is important to be able to look not only at the short-term, but also the long-term,” stated Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, minister of mines and hydrocarbons of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea. “The most secure market for African producers is Africa. We need to be able to create a market. If we can export LNG to South Africa, Egypt and others, this will be long-term. To secure our future and reduce energy poverty, we need to create energy security.”

Bruno Jean-Richard Itoua, OPEC president and minister of hydrocarbons of the Republic of the Congo, commented, “For the next 25 years we will see energy demand growing. We cannot face this demand without gas. We need a minimal 40% of energy coming from fossil fuels over these 25 years. The question is not to stop producing oil or gas, this is the worst thing to do. The European commission, in 2022, decided that gas is a green transition energy. There needs to be no more debates about gas. We need to stop wasting time discussing why gas is the solution. We need to start producing as much as we can.”

Tom Alweendo, minister of mines and energy, Republic of Namibia, said, “We have been lucky to make two substantial discoveries. This was after more than 30 years of exploration. What helped us was that we never gave up. Our licensing systems are attractive for people. Our turnaround time for evaluating applications for licensing has been really efficient. We persevered and the exploration companies were with us during this time.”

Sophie Gladima, minister of petroleum and energies, the Republic of Senegal, concluded, “Africa is the first to be affected by climate change, but our explorers can help us to understand the impacts of climate change whilst exploiting these gas riches… we should push our youth to start their own businesses which will become large companies and take over the field. We should work with all those actors who possess experience and at COP27, we will push to develop the resources of Africa for Africa itself.”