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By 2040, Africa’s population will grow from 1 billion to 1.8 billion, an increase of nearly a billion. To ensure economic growth continuity, sufficient energy capacity is essential – a gap that indigenous gas resources can fill.

This was the opening remarks by South African minister of energy Jeff Radebe, while addressing the SADC Ministerial Workshop on the Regional Gas Infrastructure and Market Development held at Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Energy access is the 'golden thread' that weaves together economic growth, human development and environmental sustainability. As a continent we need to ensure that we have universal energy access to clean, sustainable and affordable energy by 2030,” Radebe said.

However, he stressed that in order for a region to become commercially competitive, policy and regulatory framework alignment is required to make the development of this infrastructure a reality.

Some of the key questions the Minister said need to be asked if SADC is to seek economic opportunities in gas:

  • Do we have the policy and regulatory framework to provide an enabling environment to exploit our natural resources in the region?
  • Do we have the gas infrastructure to transport the gas within the region to markets?
  • Does the region have sufficient demand to pay for the infrastructure development?
  • Will there be funding available for mega regional project?

Commercial viability

He highlighted that gas is a “suitable complementary power generation technology to renewable energy technologies,” which is comforting when looking to build a clean, sustainable and reliable energy network blueprint for future generations.

West Africa has remained the dominant player in African gas; however, the Southern region is showing potential.

Angola, Tanzania, Nambia, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe have been highlighted to have significant unconventional gas reserves in the form of coalbed methane and shale gas.

“With an average electrification rate of 35%, the SADC region has an opportunity to develop a cleaner, reliable power generation sector from the use of gas. The gas to power can also support the renewable energy projects in various SADC member countries.”

Read the Minister’s full speech here.