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Screen grab: Friends of Europe
Sudanese-British businessman and philanthropist Mo Ibrahim yesterday said that it is “morally indefensible” that European countries were refusing to finance gas projects in Africa while using African gas for their own consumption.
“You are using African gas and you’re denying us the use of African gas. That is a morally indefensible position. People have to understand the depth of feelings in Africa about that issue,” Mo Ibrahim said in a video conference debate on energy and climate change.
Organized by the Africa-Europe Foundation and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, the debate was the first of three scheduled in anticipation of the African Union–European Union (AU-EU) summit in Brussels in February.
In his closing speech, Mo Ibrahim, whose foundation supports progress on the African continent, addressed the decision of 39 countries and development agencies at the Glasgow climate summit (COP26) in November to stop funding fossil fuel projects abroad.
The decision has been criticized by African countries, who argue that gas is the cleanest fossil fuel and should play a role in the continent’s energy transition.
“We find it a little strange, you know, when Europe is wallowing in gas – Russian gas, African gas, gas projects everywhere – but when it comes to Africa they say no, no, no, we don’t fund gas here,” the philanthropist says.
In the same debate, the executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Vera Songwe, regretted that, while energy should be an equalizer, “when Africans are told not to use part of their energy to make their continent more prosperous”, it is being transformed into an agent of inequality.
Vera Songwe recalled that, in November last year, Europe experienced “a huge crisis” when gas prices quadrupled, and recalled that, in Mozambique, where there is a crisis and economic growth is falling, gas is still produced for consumption in Europe.
“How can a Mozambican who does not have access to energy – only 17% do – see European companies continuing to exploit gas to take to Europe while Europeans tell Africans not to produce more gas?” she asks.
Songwe stressed that gas makes it possible to reduce the cost of energy and guarantee more investment for Africa, adding that the issue of climate change is irrelevant. “When we produce more gas, we reduce carbon emissions by almost 38%”.
After successive postponements resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, the sixth EU-AU Heads of State and Government Summit, initially scheduled for 2020, is now scheduled for February in Brussels.
Watch the full debate here.
🙏 A huge thank you to those who participated in our fruitful #TalkingAfricaEurope debate on #climate and #energy yesterday.#ReimagineAfricaEurope@Macky_Sall, @eucopresident, @ThierryBreton, Mo Ibrahim (@Mo_IbrahimFdn), @TimmermansEU, @SongweVera, A. Fayolle (@EIB) ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/Iws0yekUD7
— Africa-Europe Foundation (@AfricaEuropeFdn) January 21, 2022
“There is a gap between how Africans look at the issue of #climate and #energy and how our 🇪🇺 friends look at them.”🌍
Mo Ibrahim, Founder and Chairman of the @Mo_IbrahimFdn, explained the importance of having a frank discussion at our #TalkingAfricaEurope.#ReimagineAfricaEurope pic.twitter.com/pXT9FqJ3aX
— Africa-Europe Foundation (@AfricaEuropeFdn) January 22, 2022