ALI SSEKATAWA: Africa should be energy reliant

Ali Ssekatawa is the Director legal and corporate affairs at the Petroleum Authority of Uganda

Ali Ssekatawa is the Director legal and corporate affairs at the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PHOTO/Courtesy)

KAMPALA —By 2050, Africa’s population is projected to grow to 2.5 billion people, which will be close to 25% of the world’s population, which is expected to grow to about Shs 9.5billion.

Africa will impact every aspect of life in the world, especially trade and industry given that majority of the 54 African states will have transitioned and achieved economic takeoff.

For economic takeoff to be achieved, Africa needs to be energy reliant and independent.

This phenomenon is perhaps what has triggered the fierce backlash from a section of neo-colonialists, operating under the guise of climate change activism, to de-campaign major African energy projects.

Slave trade and colonialism kept Africa in the dark for years without offering the continent a tangible path to self-determination.  Neocolonialism is the new tool.

The recent COVID-19 pandemic was the biggest eye-opener to less developed countries such as Uganda when the west selfishly hoarded the vaccines. Africans survived the COVID-19 pandemic through a combination of able leadership, good weather, and a resilient genetic setup augmented by local herbs.

Without shame, the same group that ducked at the hour of need has resurfaced after fully vaccinating themselves with booster jabs, on a  mission to stop Oil and Gas development in Africa, ostensibly  to ‘save the African environment and biodiversity. Do they love the African lizards more than the people?

Ironically, on 28 September, leaders of Poland, Denmark, and Norway officially launched the Baltic gas pipeline, a 900km conduit intended to supply gas from the Norwegian gas system in the North Sea to Poland, via Denmark sponsored by the European Union (EU) commission. All other pipelines in Europe and the USA are operating, and none has been decommissioned. Equally, new exploration licenses are being issued in the Arctic, North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and Canada, especially following the Ukraine war. Other countries like Germany have ditched wind farms for coal plants.

What then drives this condescending attitude toward, Africa? Besides racism, why would the EU treat energy security as a national security matter at a time when the  EU Parliament seeks  to undermine a similar objective for East Africa?

The East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), which is a 1,443KM heated 24-inch pipeline that will run from Hoima in Uganda to the port of Tanga in Tanzania, is a critical part of the value chain that includes the upstream projects (Kingfisher and Tilenga), the refinery, and the Liquified Petroleum Gas projects in Uganda, and a potential reverse gas Pipeline from Tanzania. The EACOP is also a  regional pipeline designed to open the DRC and South Sudan markets, which have proven reserves. Mozambique is developing a Gas project worth US $ 20 billion. An attack on EACOP is, therefore, an attack on the entire oil and Gas industry in East Africa.

All the nine countries in East Africa are net importers of petroleum products, and, therefore, from a strategic perspective, must exploit their resources to ensure energy security. The major sponsors of the anti-development agenda are either beneficiaries of the fossil fuel industry, or major investors in solar and wind technology, but are hiding behind a legitimate climate discussion to achieve their hidden agenda.

There’s no doubt that climate change is real, but the energy transition must be Just for all. Not a transition where the biggest polluters make it an obligation for less developed countries to pay for their sins. Environmental liability dictates that the Polluter pays.

The level of hostility and the amount of time and resources invested to ensure Africa remains energy poor is enormous. They have put deliberate and aggressive schemes to recruit from Africa. They are offering visas, air tickets, and allowances to the gullible youth to travel to Europe to be paraded holding pre-written placards, and appearing as pawns in scripted documentaries/TV adverts. They are harassing and trolling potential bankers and insurance companies by dumping their numbers online and through emails. Most worryingly, they are using lies, and will not listen to  any fact that doesn’t fit into their narratives.

But each generation must discover its mission. We must respond and counter these lies, in every fora, Barraza, or platform by  all lawful means at our disposal. This is our historical mission.

Just like His Excellency Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda described them recently, “some of these people are insufferable, so shallow, egocentric – broadcasting their ignorance all around. They should calm down. We don’t respond lightly to arrogance. The project will go on as planned.

As we gear up for the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP27), Africa should stand firm, and strongly come out and let the world know that only a just transition will be accepted as a minimum standard, based on mutual respect if the continent is to alleviate energy poverty, and achieve the desired industrial growth.

This writer, Ali Ssekatawa is the Director legal and corporate affairs at the Petroleum Authority of Uganda

Email: corporateaffairs@pau.go.ug

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