Natural gas to lift Africa’s electrification by 38% in 2050

Natural gas is expected to play a key role in accelerating electricity access in Africa helping to raise supply from 850 terawatt hour (TWh) in 2020 to 3,130 TWh in 2050 says a new report by OPEC.

“Natural gas is expected to cover 38 percent of the total rise in electricity supply and provide a stable 38-39 percent share of the power generation mix over the outlook period,” notes the World Oil Outlook (WOO) 2022 report by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

It said natural gas will likely be the preferred fuel in power generation to enable accelerated electrification across the continent alongside renewables, which are projected to grow rapidly, given the scale of the electrification required, as well as countries’ plans and supportive policies.

Natural gas is said to be Africa’s greatest opportunity as a long-term energy supply solution to help alleviate energy poverty and enhance the quality of life, specifically in sub-Saharan Africa.

As a fuel for sustainable development, natural gas can provide accessibility, affordability, and reliability to African nations.

Africa’s energy security concerns should not only be viewed in terms of sustained and affordable energy supplies but also in the wider context of being an essential driver for the 17 United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the report said.

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Around 600 million people lacked access to electricity in Africa in 2021, and 900 million people in sub-Saharan Africa did not have access to clean cooking, hence there is a huge scope for natural gas to meet the continent’s substantial power deficit, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2021, according to Statista, natural gas reserves in Africa totaled around 625.6 trillion cubic feet (tcf). New discoveries have been added since then.

Nigeria has the continent’s largest proven reserves, with 209 TCF – equivalent to roughly three percent of the proved global natural gas reserves.