After us the Deluge (II)

Europe, which, in late 2021, had sought to halt natural gas projects in Africa, to save the climate, is now facilitating them to gain independence from Russian gas and to be able to intensify the fight against Moscow.

BERLIN/DAKAR (Own report) – The intensified use of African countries as a source of natural gas for Europe is meeting growing criticism on the African continent. This is resulting from decisions, taken last year by a group of prosperous industrialized nations during the Climate Conference in Glasgow (COP26), which foresaw halting funding of oil and gas extraction abroad. This, on the other hand, would mean that it would be more difficult for Africa to use natural gas as a source of energy. Today, 600 million people in Africa still have no access to electricity. Natural gas is considered a suitable source of energy for rectifying this, with the least possible impact on climate. Now, however, European countries have executed an about face and are insisting on natural gas supplies from African countries – to free themselves of their dependency on Russian gas and to reinforce their boycott against Moscow. Sharp criticism is being raised by numerous African states. A former top UN representative accused this European approach of being “paternalist” and hypocritical.” In their quest for liquefied natural gas (LNG), European countries continue to buy up deliveries away from southern Asia’s poorer countries.

Green Colonialism

The reason for criticism, currently being voiced in numerous African countries, lies in decisions taken last year at the Glasgow Climate Conference (COP26). This particularly involves the pledge by a group of prosperous industrialized nations to halt the financing of oil and gas extraction projects beginning by 2023, at the latest – however, only those abroad. In the meantime, all of the G7 countries have agreed to join that initiative. The announcement caused anger on the African continent, because it would mean no more promotion of natural gas projects in Africa, even though these are considered a realistic means of improving the supply for the population. Today, 600 million people in African countries still have no access to electricity. A direct transition to supplies from solar and wind energy is expensive and considered unrealistic, also because the prosperous industrialized nations are refusing the necessary means. The rich nations have failed to deliver on their pledge to provide US $100 billion a year for supplying the developing countries with renewable energy. In Africa one repeatedly hears reference to the West’s “green colonialism.”[1]

Senegal’s Contribution

Criticism has again flared up, because, since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, European powers have broken their COP26 pledge – but only to their own advantage. Their sole concern is to escape their dependence on Russian natural gas. That is considered necessary for intensifying their Russian boycott. For example, Italy wants to acquire LNG from the production project in Congo-Brazzaville, which is currently being expanded. France, for its part, has its sights on a production project in northern Mozambique, that its company Total, had abandoned a year ago because of local uprisings. The EU had then used the uprisings in the region of natural gas deposits as an excuse for initiating military training missions in Mozambique.[2] Germany is seeking a source of natural gas in Africa for its own consumption, as well. During his visit to Senegal, in late May, Chancellor Scholz announced that Berlin would support the production of natural gas in that country. Senegal could, according to a report, “make a contribution, to replacing Russian gas.”[3] In the meantime, the G7 has officially reversed its COP26 pledge and approved funding gas production on the African continent.

The IEA’s U-Turn

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has also provoked anger in ‘Africa. Last year, the IEA declared that, it was urgently necessary to halt funding of projects generating fossil fuel energy sources, to achieve the global targets set for climate. However, this year in June, the agency, which is under very strong US influence, reversed its standpoint, alleging that Africa must quickly expand its natural gas production, so it will be in a position by the end of the decade to annually export some 30 billion cubic meters (bcm) to Europe. This is necessary to reduce European dependence on Russian gas.[4] At the same time, the IEA indicated that in a relatively short time, it will also be necessary to phase out natural gas production to become climate neutral by the middle of the century, as planned. Therefore, it is important to implement the production projects on the African continent as quickly as possible. Otherwise, it is uncertain whether they can still be fully amortized.

“Patronizing, Hypocritical”

In the meantime, a whole series of top-ranking African politicians have issued comments on the European powers’ double standards. “We need long-term partnership, not inconsistency and contradiction,“ admonished Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari.[5] “They cannot just come and say, ‘We need your gas, I’ll buy your gas and we’ll take it to Europe,’” Equatorial Guinea’s Energy Minister, Gabriel Obiang Lima, was quoted. Instrumentalizing Africa for a short-term gas fix is “patronizing” and “hypocritical,” said Carlos Lopes, former head of the UN Economic Commission for Africa. It is “absolutely outrageous to say to the Africans that they should basically not look into the options that they have in front of them, and at the same time accelerate the request for gas for Europe because of the Russia-Ukraine war.”[6] Critics are also pointing out that the natural gas supplying Europe from the African nations is no longer available for the urgently needed improvements of supplies for the African population.[7]

“Bought Everything Up”

In their quest for LNG, European countries are still buying up deliveries earmarked for the poorer countries in southern Asia. Already two weeks ago, the Pakistani Minister of State for Petroleum, Musadik Malik announced, his country can no longer purchase the desperately needed LNG from the spot market, because “every single molecule that was available in our region” has been bought up by European countries.[8] Already since some time, electricity has had to be rationed, and plants temporarily shut down due to a lack of LNG, even nearly a quarter of the power plants have now temporarily been removed from the grid, due to insufficient energy sources.[9] Bangladesh, for its part, has not been able to pay for the needed additional LNG on the spot market, since the beginning of the month, due to the rapid hike in prices, and will not be able to for at least the next two months. Rationing of electricity, cuts in work hours and regular blackouts are the consequences.[10] An improvement of the situation, caused mainly by the sanctions and boycott policies of western powers, is nowhere on the horizon.


[1] Andrea Böhm: Klimaschutz oder grüner Kolonialismus? 06.01.2022.

[2] See also Insurrection in Cabo Delgado.

[3] Scholz plant Gas-Kooperation mit Senegal. 22.05.2022.

[4] Noah Browning: Africa must act quickly on its gas reserves, IEA report. 23.06.2022.

[5], [6] Neil Munshi, Paul Burkhardt, William Clowes: Europe’s Rush to Buy Africa’s Natural Gas Draws Cries of Hypocrisy. 10.07.2022.

[7] Irina Slav: Europe Does A Complete U-Turn On African Oil And Gas. 20.07.2022.

[8] See also After us the Deluge.

[9] Fuel shortages hit nearly a quarter of Pakistan’s operational power plants. 20.07.2022.

[10] BD halts expensive spot LNG imports. 21.07.2022.