Is there really an Urgency and Opportunities for Africa’s Energy Transition? Find out and Understand the Challenges, Solutions, and Potential of Africa’s Energy Landscape.
Q: How do you manage to juggle being an Executive Chairman, a CEO, and an Amazon bestselling author all at once?
I lived, studied, and worked in the U.S. and the things that stood out to me when living there were the American sense of optimism, personal responsibility, and a strong work ethic. I bring all of that to my work. Even now, during these troubled days, that mindset is still there. Living in America offers unique opportunities; people can start with very little, work hard, and make a better life for themselves for their children, and the generations that follow.
Achieving those things—the American Dream—doesn’t happen for everyone. But it does happen enough to make it more than a myth or fantasy. I saw it with my own eyes. So, can Africans aspire towards the same things? Can we achieve an equally powerful African dream? A dream of stability and prosperity? My answer is a resounding yes! As the Executive Chairman of the AEC, I want to ensure that this happens to Africans, and I must find the time to write and tell an African story.
Q: Your latest book release, A Just Transition: Making Energy Poverty History with an Energy Mix, says a lot. However, there are countries that have switched to green energy and are struggling. Does your new release discuss this issue?
Europe is returning to coal because they transitioned to green energy in a reckless fashion. 600 million Africans have no access to electricity, and900 million Africans have no access to clean cooking technologies, most of them women. Honestly in Africa no one wants to breathe clean air in the dark. Energy poverty and climate change re two sides of the same coin and must be dealt with. Natural gas is not the problem, CO2 emissions are, and we should deal with it.
Yes, I know that renewable energy can help meet Africa’s power needs, too. But Africans shouldn’t be pressured to make either-or decisions in this area. The green transition must be made strategically and soundly, carefully considering the needs of the African people. Keep in mind that hundreds of millions of Africans have insufficient access to electricity in the current configuration, with hydrocarbons still in the mix. Take away what little availability they have to fossil fuels, and they will — quite literally — be left in the dark.
Telling Africa not to develop its resources is akin to making Africa “pay for the sins” of other regions. I say, trying to dictate what Africa does with its own resources is insulting, hypocritical, and frankly, an overstep.
Q: Why does your book mostly highlight that of Africa’s energy mostly instead of exploring something that could benefit the world, worldwide? Your focus points are on Africa and Europe as stated in a press release.
The energy transition is unjust to poor Africans; their voices must be heard. African energy poverty is critical and has not been put on the global stage. Greenhouse gas emissions are lowest in Africa; the continent needs to industrialise and the wealthy nations need to decarbonise.
What’s behind the vested interest in African natural gas production? Does the world really have our best interests at heart? Sure, reining in greenhouse gas emissions is an admirable goal. But consider this. Over the last 300 years, all of Africa has emitted seven times less carbon dioxide than China, 13 times less than the United States, and 18 times less than the combined countries of Europe. Attempting to phase out Africa’s oil and natural industry to prevent climate change is like snuffing out a small, controlled campfire instead of focusing your attention on kilometers of blazing forestland.
It is funny that the keep-fossil-fuels-in-the-ground argument is a Western construct promoted by countries that developed their economies with fossil fuels.
Q: Your book mentions the realities of energy poverty in Africa. Can you share with us, readers, what those are?
The most important reason why Africa should be free to continue hydrocarbon production is this, Africa’s huge natural gas reserves are the continent’s best shot at alleviating energy poverty. Today, more than 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa don’t have electricity. That’s two-thirds of the population.
Hundreds of millions more have unreliable or limited power. What does that look like? Without electricity, you’re cooking your food and warming your home by burning wood, charcoal, or maybe even animal waste.
Your regular exposure to indoor air pollution increases your risk of respiratory infections and chronic conditions. If you need to go to the hospital for treatment, it will be by lantern light or, worse yet, in the dark. Equipment that requires electricity, like MRI machines and ventilators, is probably not an option. And that’s just one aspect of your life. It doesn’t even touch on how a lack of electricity impacts your children’s school or limits economic growth in your community and your employment opportunities.
Gas-to-power technology which, incidentally, generate fewer CO2 emissions can bring reliable electricity to Africa. But we must be allowed to unleash our resources, not constrain them. The good news is thirteen African countries are using natural gas they produce themselves or import from neighbouring nations to generate electricity.
Q: How does artificial intelligence come to play an important part in helping the energy technology in Africa? What types of artificial technology does your book mention?
Over the last two decades, the world has entered a new stage of digitalization. Some have gone so far as to call it the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In this new stage, technology isn’t just a means to an end; it can also be a part of the decision-making process.
Every African country and every African company involved in energy projects ought to embrace AI technologies. Yes, I mean every single country and every single company. Yes, even if they were originally meant to benefit non-African users working in non-African environments. Yes, even if they were designed to operate in places where energy markets and infrastructure are, on average, more developed than they are in Africa. Yes, absolutely!
Why? Because the existence of these technologies and tools gives Africa the chance to engage in another bout of leapfrogging. If African stakeholders follow this path, they’ll have opportunities to save time and money. They’ll be able to do more than just develop their own hydrocarbon resources, expand their own electricity production, and support their own local electricity and fuel markets. They’ll be able to adopt and integrate new technologies as they do all these things. They’ll be able to explore every option for making the African energy sector as efficient and productive as possible.
Know more about NJ Ayuk and his book, A Just Transition: Making Energy Poverty History with an Energy Mix, check out his website.