Ghana’s petroleum chief criticizes pressure for rapid energy transition in Africa

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 23 May 2024 at 01:46

Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, the CEO of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) in Ghana, has criticized the push for African countries to quickly move away from using fossil fuels like oil and gas and adopt other renewable energy sources.

Speaking during the ongoing National Security Symposium in Kigali, Abdul-Hamid argued that Africa accounts for only 3 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry, the smallest share among all the world’s regions.

“We ought to maximize what we have—the hydrocarbon resources. These so-called industrialized countries have been exploiting hydrocarbon resources for over 200 years. Many African countries are just discovering their hydrocarbon resources. Are we supposed to leave our hydrocarbon resources stranded in the belly of the earth? I don’t think so,” Abdul-Hamid remarked.

“For example, these developed countries are signing new oil exploration contracts as we speak. They compelled South Africa to close down its coal mines, and because of that, South Africa is in a power crisis as we speak. Yet Africa contributes 3 per cent to global greenhouse emissions, while North America, Europe, and Asia alone contribute over 90 per cent. So, really and truly, if we are talking about people who should be transitioning to cleaner fuels and energy, I think they should transition completely and wait for us for another 30 or so years to exploit our resources, industrialize, and develop our societies to catch up,” he stated, adding that even electric vehicles (EVs), that have become increasingly popular and competitive option for clean transport, are not 100 per cent energy clean, as their batteries require energy and materials that pose various environmental impacts.

The CEO called for deliberate efforts to integrate economies in Africa for the benefit of the region, which he argued continues to face exploitation from the Global North.

“If we are not integrating our resources and thinking holistically as Africans, we are going to perish. Ghana requires 400 million dollars every month to import petroleum. So, if you are looking for dollars to import petroleum products, your currency is going to plummet, and petroleum prices are going to go up. It’s going to affect food prices, and you are going to create suffering for the ordinary people of your country. I think that all of us, whether it is East Africa, SADC, or West Africa, should begin immediately by integrating our economies.”

He noted that the African Union (AU) should prioritize initiatives that ensure the region and its people benefit from exports.

“Niger has uranium which powers most of the power plants in France. They sell uranium worth about 3.5 billion euros to France, yet they get 458 million euros. Why?” he posed.

According to the CEO, Ghana and Ivory Coast have greatly benefited from cocoa initiatives aimed at getting value for the producers.

“Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire signed what they call the Ghana-Côte d’Ivoire Cocoa Initiative, basically like a cartel because we control 60 per cent of world production of cocoa. It drove up the prices of cocoa and gave us more money. That is what African countries should be doing.”

“The African Union, where our heads of state meet, should take bold initiatives to tackle the fundamental problem that we have as an African continent—one of selling our resources cheaply to European nations. We need to find a way of trading better within ourselves and find a way of exploiting our resources. For me, I feel we have a long way to go in terms of energy transition. Ghana has done its energy transition plan. We have said that we are ready to transition by 2030. Nobody is going to compel us to transition by 2030 because it’s not even realistic in the first place.”

Various global organizations, led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), have been leading calls for energy transition amid climate change concerns.

Some of the benefits of the transition to renewable energy include reduced greenhouse gas emissions, reduced energy costs, and the creation of new jobs in sectors like renewable energy technology, manufacturing, installation, and maintenance.

The global energy crisis and transitions were among the topics listed for discussion during the three-day National Security Symposium 2024, jointly organized by the Rwanda Defence Force Command and Staff College (RDFCSC) and the University of Rwanda (UR).

Themed ’Contemporary Security Challenges: The African Perspective,’ experts will also weigh in on the causes of insecurity in Africa and across the globe, climate change in Africa, food security in Africa, the compounding effects of global shocks on trade, supply chains and debt traps.

Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, the CEO of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) in Ghana, has criticized the push for African countries to quickly move away from using fossil fuels like oil and gas and adopt other renewable energy sources.