Sustainable Energy for All and Columbia University have co-hosted a workshop on regional use of East Africa’s natural gas in Addis Ababa on June 2nd, 2014. Participants included senior officials from East Africa, the United States, the East Africa Community and the World Bank as well as senior representatives of oil & gas companies, academic experts and others. Dr. Kandeh Yumkella (UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All) and Prof. Jeffrey Sachs (Director of The Earth Institute and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals) also joined the workshop via video conference.
The large offshore natural gas resources recently identified in East Africa (Mozambique and Tanzania) are a significant primary energy resource and offer the possibility to support both economic growth and much needed energy access in the region especially when combined with other resources in the region. Natural gas is however just one of many energy resources and can potentially play an important role in the energy mix, especially when it comes to facilitating integration of renewables.
Energy in the region is currently constrained by infrastructure and not limited by demand. The abundance of natural gas in the region allows for an affordable energy resource that could lower the cost of energy for fertilizer, cooking, transport and industry and in turn address the nexus of food, health, gender, urbanization and jobs.
The workshop aimed at a dialogue around the value proposition of gas use to meet power needs, industrial needs, need for fertilizer, as well as having transformational impact in urban settings, with piped natural gas for cooking and compressed natural gas for transportation.
While the industrial economies have pervasive gas infrastructure and the emerging economies of South Asia and China are rapidly building new pipelines, such infrastructure is limited in sub-Saharan Africa. A preliminary techno-economic analysis by Columbia University suggests the value proposition of a gas pipeline corridor in East and South Africa, eventually spanning from Ethiopia to South Africa. Results of the analysis have been presented and discussed at the workshop. The workshop also provided insight from the hydrocarbon industry experts as to the value propositions of piped gas and LNG.