Africa’s opportunity to fully exploit the green gold


People may argue that the energy transition to cleaner sources may take about 20 to 25 years before its impact will be significant. The rise in carbon emissions and its impact on the earth is a fuelling factor to this transition that is increasing over time.

Even if it takes 50 or 100 years for renewable energy to fully take over, it is a revolution that will eventually take place. There was a time when people used to travel on horses, chariots and other ‘primitive’ transportation means. There was an age when energy was not fully utilised, and this was before the industrial revolution when coal was in huge demand; we were not in a position to benefit fully.

Gradually, coal was phased down, oil and gas overtook coal as the number-one energy source – and at that point we were still not in a position to benefit and manage these resources by ourselves before their value peaked.  The main concern currently is that in the next 20 or 30 years to come, renewable energy industries will dominate the energy sector. How many battery production companies, photovoltaic production companies and renewable energy-based companies would have emerged from Ghana or Africa at large? Will we be in a position to make benefits from this revolution? Will we be in a position to manage and harness clean energy?

The energy market is global. It is very important we do not disregard the fact that, even if you make decisions in isolation locally, it is only a matter of time before the international market for energy renders these decisions null.

Imagine a country with large oil reserves without combustion engines or countries to sell to. In the near-future, the world will have moved on from relying on oil and gas being the number-one energy source.

Will we be ready, and in a position to benefit?

Taking Ghana as a key study, after over a decade into oil and gas production the country can hardly boasts any world-class indigenous oil and gas company currently in production. The mentality of waiting for appetite for an energy source to peak before giving that sector attention has to change.

The reason I believe the advocacy for energy transition should not be overlooked is that Ghana and Africa have lithium in large quantities which enable us to invest heavily in battery production – plus access to sunlight for solar power, geothermal energy, natural gas, biofuel, biogas, ethanol fuel, wind and other renewable energy sources.

Waiting for appetite for this new power source to peak before getting in on the action will once again set us back as a country and a continent.

The shift from oil and gas as the main source of energy will take time and not happen overnight. But the wheels are already in motion, it is important to diversify and think of setting up Integrated Energy Enterprises. This puts us in a position not to be completely left behind when the revolution comes.

Policies need to be made to ensure this emerging industry looks appetising to the local investor. Policies that project into the future not only enrich the nation but also increase contributions to environment preservation. The change will not wait on us, and it’s time to swiftly prioritise clean energy as the next step.

We have stifled our growth and resource development for far too long. With another revolution on the horizon, it is now time plans were made to embrace this revolution and tap into both its economic and environmental benefits.

The time is now.

>>>the writer is CEO of Starzec Energy Company. He can be reached on [email protected]

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