The Impact of the West’s Rising Energy Demand on Africa

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Western countries aiming to restrict Russian natural gas and oil supply as a result of sanctions imposed on Russia are resorting to alternative sources as a result of the ensuing energy crisis. In this context, the West, turning its eyes to African countries, claims that the continent’s fossil fuel deposits have great potential. However, some argue that increasing oil and natural gas exports will jeopardize the economic stability of many African countries and delay the transition to green energy. One of the main issues addressed during the 2022 United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt was the impact of geopolitical tensions in Europe and energy security on Africa.

Indeed, Western nations with substantial shares in the African Development Bank (AfDB), such as the United States of America (USA), England, Italy, France, and Germany, are taking steps to transform the continent into a “gas station” to resolve the energy issue. Western companies’ shares in the AfDB pave the path for additional investments in natural gas projects across Africa.[1]

While increasing natural gas exports from African nations provides an immediate solution to Europe’s energy crisis and will benefit producing countries in the short term, it will also exacerbate the climate crisis in the long run. Investments made in the poorest continent of the world in order to increase natural gas exports can be considered as a short-term and risky strategy. The main reason for this is that the demand for fossil fuels will decrease in the medium term. Furthermore, the construction of natural gas infrastructure may lead the continent to fall behind in its green transformation for energy use, resulting in a shortage of export markets in the future when the effects of the energy crisis are mitigated.

So, African leaders tried to make their voices known at the COP27 Summit about the dangers to Africa’s energy transformation, despite the fact that it was not on the conference’s agenda. In this regard, Senegalese President Macky Sall replied to Western leaders’ statements that natural gas will be utilized as “transition energy” during the summit by saying, “We are in favour of a just and fair green transition, instead of decisions that harm our development process.”[2]

It might be claimed that Egypt, who is hosting the COP27 Summit, is eager to grow its gas industry and is attempting to position itself as a viable option to European nations facing supply problems to replace Russian imports. As a result, it is likely that at the summit’s conclusion, African leaders’ remarks that the continent’s massive solar and wind resources are a far better alternative than investing in gas will go unanswered.

The “transition energy” claims of the West have not been found convincing as a solution to poverty by many activists and analysts. Because, as neocolonial history demonstrates, there is no case where the operation and usage of African mines has resulted in the development of the continent. As a result, rather than investing in natural gas in Africa in accordance with imperialist companies’ interests, moving the region to a leadership position in the climate target through solar and wind energy is one of the most logical solutions for both the world and African countries.

European interest in African gas also contradicts its climate targets. Many infrastructure investments are required to actually benefit from Africa’s fossil resources, such as the extraction, processing, and pipeline transportation of natural gas from power plants. Moreover, all these steps aim to increase the use of fossil fuels, as well as the risk of a significant amount of methane gas emissions through infrastructure construction.

Furthermore, those who promote the utilization of natural gas resources on the continent disregard the fact that African countries release the least carbon per capita on the world. As a result, it is hypocritical to ask African natural resources to address the energy problem, which was largely produced by former colonial countries, at the price of their own energy transformations.

In conclusion, the growing interest of Western countries in exploiting Africa’s fossil fuels makes it difficult to raise their climate targets. Because expanded new gas investment and similar operations may enhance neocolonial activities on the African continent and undermine African people as they will face negative consequences.

[1] “Renewables-not Fossil Gas”, Power Shift in Africa,, (Date of Accession: 14.11.2022).

[2] “Western Thirst for African Gas Raises Alarm at COP27”, France24,, (Date of Accession: 14.11.2022).

2020 yılında Hacettepe Üniversitesi İktisadi ve İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezun olan Elif Tektaş, aynı yıl Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli Üniversitesi Lisansüstü Eğitim Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda Ortadoğu ve Afrika Çalışmaları Bilim Dalı’nda yüksek lisans programına başlamıştır. Halihazırda yüksek lisans eğitimine devam eden Tektaş, iyi derecede İngilizce bilmektedir.