As Europe’s worst energy nightmare turns into a reality, it has realized that US can do little to rescue it from an impending disaster, as Biden’s flawed policies have already created much havoc in US, which itself is facing a major gas and oil crisis. Consequently, abandoned by US, now Europe hopes to embrace Africa as it looks for energy alternatives.
Recently, Portuguese Prime Minister, António Costa, visited Mozambique with the hidden agenda of seeking help from it’s former colony to rescue itself from the gas crisis. Also in the month of April, the Italian government signed a partnership agreement to import natural gas from Angola, which too is a major energy player.
The Central African countries including Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Gabon, Chad, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo Republic are all, either oil producers or have vast untapped oil and gas reserves, but are dependent on imports for refined products.
In a bid to assert their identity and tread on the path of economic self-sufficiency, these countries have signed a deal to create a regional oil and gas pipeline network to strengthen energy supply and reduce dependence on imports of refined petroleum products from the West. The project aims to construct three multinational oil and gas pipeline systems of around 6,500 km, storage depots, liquefied natural gas terminals, and gas-fired power plants linking 11 countries by 2030, according to project documents seen by Reuters.
These projects are expected to strengthen energy supply and turn a new page in Africa’s tryst with economic development, whereby entitling the continent to have a say with respect to use of its own resources, which have generally attracted the West to be plundered upon.
Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of OPEC member Equatorial Guinea said that the project was crucial to tackle energy poverty in the region. He further added that, the network will help get rid of trucks crisscrossing countries and boost the regional oil and gas market taking products where needed.
It has is also believed that this project will lead to high employment opportunities, thereby reducing the risk of not only future civil disturbances but also trans-border smuggling of crude oil, which is already affecting the countries in West Africa.
Omar Farouk Ibrahim, Secretary General of APPO said “the project was one of the most ambitious energy infrastructure projects whose completion has the potential to dramatically change the economies of participating countries”.
Additionally, African nations like Nigeria, Mozambique, Algeria, Angola have major natural gas reserves. Proven natural gas reserves in Africa amount to 625 trillion cubic feet. Mozambique, for instance, has the third largest proven gas reserves in Africa, after Nigeria and Algeria. This explains why these countries are the manifestation of EU’s newfound puppy love.
Most of the African countries, because of their dependency on the West for refined products, are facing the brunt of the Ukraine war.
However, completion of the new infrastructure projects in Africa will “take energy from areas of abundance to areas of need within the Central African sub-region and integrate and energize the national economies”, as reported by Reuters.
These projects will be a critical solution to end energy poverty in Africa by 2030. Not only will it lead to job creation and wider socio-economic growth but also improve energy security in the region.
Russia’s growing influence in Africa
On the other hand, in the wake of the war with Ukraine, Russia is steadily expanding its influence in Africa. Recently, Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov made a high-profile trip to several African nations. This trip was significant for Russia’s geo-strategic posturing. With this Russia is projecting to the world how it is unbothered by the war and the West’s campaign to isolate Russia internationally.
Ethiopia is set to host a Russia-Africa summit meeting next year. This summit will once again reinforce the fact that the West has miserably failed to isolate Russia on its war with Ukraine.
This summit will be important as Russia looks for new markets and customers to buy its energy after the West imposed extreme sanctions on Russia. It will be another blow to Biden and the EU in its attempt to gain international recognition and pursue African countries to solve its energy crisis.
Thus at a time, when Europe’s sanctions against Russia have completely backfired, Russia instead, is making significant inroads in Africa building deeper trade and investment ties with the continent, only to further strangulate an already desperate Europe .
It is to be noted here that, out of the 35 states who abstained to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during the UN General Assembly resolution in March, 17 were African nations.
As Europe is practically begging their way to Africa looking for energy alternatives, but now with Russia’s growing presence in Africa, even that seems difficult for Europe. Tables have turned and now it is Africa, who has the bargaining chip to determine the course of any proposed arrangement with the West to its benefit. It is correctly said that beggars can’t be choosers.
With these developments it will be naive for Europe to imagine that it will be in a position to dictate its terms to Africa, as it looks for alternative sources of energy. As Africa hopes to end energy poverty and become self-sufficient, Europe’s trouble is set to increase further with addition of a major player, who was earlier taken for granted.