Africa is open to cooperation and new knowledge
Choosing a course towards transitioning to a green economy, the international community acknowledges that achieving these goals is only possible through unity of views and actions towards this direction from all countries and continents without exception. Africa is seen as very promising in this context.
This was discussed in the 2020 report of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). According to experts, Africa south of the Sahara has great technical potential for producing green hydrogen, and its production cost will not exceed $1.5/kg by 2050. At the same time, the technical potential of African electrolysis capacity is 2715 EJ, while that of Europe is estimated at 88 EJ. According to the European Investment Bank's forecasts, investments in clean hydrogen could reduce carbon emissions in Africa by 40%, or 500 million tons of CO2. Therefore, the continent has a very high potential: Africa is capable of providing access to clean and sustainable energy on the continent and becoming a global energy player through the export of green hydrogen.
African stakeholders are also showing great interest in the development of hydrogen energy. This was emphasized by Professor Bamidele Adebisi, Director of AHP, member of the AHP University Council, and head of the Intellectual Infrastructure and Industrial Research (SIIR) group at the Manchester Metropolitan University African Hydrogen Partnership during the international online conference "Development of hydrogen technologies in the world. New opportunities" on February 21, 2023.
Bamidele Adebisi talked about the African Hydrogen Union, which he heads. Currently, this is the only umbrella association on the entire continent that deals with the development of green and natural hydrogen, hydrogen-based chemical substances, fuel cell technologies, and related business opportunities in Africa. According to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement regarding the regulation of measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from 2020, the main goal of the African association is to also support businesses interested in creating African hydrogen value chains.
Professor Bamidele Adebisi identified the unique geographic opportunities, people, and climate conditions of the African continent as the main advantages for producing and transporting hydrogen for the development of its economy. He emphasized that Ethiopia, the northern part of Africa, the western coast, and the eastern corridor have the potential for producing low-cost energy from renewable sources such as solar and wind power, which allows for the production of high-quality energy. As a continent, Africa lacks sufficient fertilizers, which negatively impacts its agriculture. Other countries use fertilizers at a volume six times higher than Africa. Our task is to protect the climate and preserve our national parks, of which we have many.
The African side is interested in attracting not only European but also Ukrainian experts to prepare for the launch of important hydrogen projects. One of the commercially attractive projects developed is the plan to convert waste into hydrogen. In the long-term plans, the goal is to convince businesses engaged in electricity production to relocate their production to the African continent.
Factors for the rapid development of this industry should be state support, political stability in the region, the energy balance structure, and the potential demand for hydrogen.
Challenges are seen in the current lack of price competitiveness of hydrogen. In addition, the domestic market is considered immature and not ready for export. Another problem is the relatively high price of diesel fuel. There are also concerns about aggressive competition resulting from the opening of the energy market. Therefore, measures are already being considered to prevent chaos in the field of green hydrogen.
However, despite these concerns, the drivers of the idea of developing green energy in the African continent believe that language, customs, and other barriers in the country will not be a hindrance to the development of the hydrogen economy and will be overcome. Africa is open to cooperation and new knowledge.