As African governments converge on Cape Town, South Africa for the Africa Energy Week which begins in Cape Town today (October 17, 2023), the Renevlyn Development Initiative (RDI) and a host of civil society organisations in Africa have urged the African Union (AU) to reject overtures and money from foreign entities to expand existing oil and gas projects and to establish new ones in Africa.
Other groups that support this call are the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Oilwatch, Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD), and Community Development Advocacy Foundation (CODAF), among others.
Their position, contained in a letter addressed to the Chair of the AU drew the attention of the body to the new scramble for pollution fuels across Africa occasioned by the activities of a handful of African leaders, backed by the global oil and gas industry, in variance with the true demands for Africans for a just energy transition that is people-centered. Equally copied in the letter are the Chair, Committee of the African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) and the Chair, African Group of Negotiators (AGN).
The groups said that during the recent Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, African leaders acknowledged that the continent is home to massive untapped renewable energy potential and abundant natural assets and concurred that these ‘‘fundamentals’’ could enable the continent to pioneer more integrated approaches to climate, clean energy, and development.
They said that while the Nairobi Declaration called for more clean energy, it failed to emphatically call out the global fossil fuel merchants and remained silent on the need for a rapid global phase-out of coal, oil and fossil gas.
In the letter, the groups expressed worry that energy leaders, investors and private and public sector executives are converging in South Africa to discuss the continent’s energy future with the intention of advancing the interests of the oil and gas industry.
They revealed that Total Energies, ExxonMobil, Kosmos Energy and Chevron are bankrolling the event as diamond sponsors, with the intention to influence its agenda and outcomes.
“The agenda speaks of an “African Energy Renaissance: Prioritizing Energy Poverty, People, Planet, Industrialization and Free Markets”. Yet the fossil fuel industry has failed for over a century to advance these goals. The speaker’s list is dominated by Heads of State, Ministers and corporate executives focused on promoting expansion of fossil fuels”
The letter urged the African governments to jettison the industry agenda of the Africa Energy Week and instead, initiate urgent interventions that propel Africans out of energy poverty, including increased funding for renewable energy on the continent. They want the AU and the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) to also reject the assertion that gas is a transition fuel, and promote energy systems that allow for all Africans to become producers of energy, rather than just consumers.
Other demands include the need for African governments to promote energy investments that meet the energy needs of consumers in Africa before seeking to satisfy wealthy nations’ demands, and holding Global North leaders to account for past climate finance pledges, among others.