Africa has Massive Untapped Potential of Natural Gas Supplies
Natural gas is one of the most widely-used energy resources, but Africa has heretofore been lagging in natural gas production. That picture is quickly changing now that multinational corporations, large and medium-sized enterprises and investors across the spectrum are tapping into the continent’s abundant supply. Its vast quantities of natural gas, which are particularly large in South Africa and North Africa, have the potential to fundamentally transform the global landscape by uplifting communities, and even entire regions. Employment prospects, infrastructure development and economic upliftment are but some of the many benefits of tapping into Africa’s natural gas supply. Interestingly enough, 60% of the top global discoveries of natural gas (during 2013) were made in Africa.
New Supply of Natural Gas
The challenges associated with developing Africa’s vast natural gas resources are real, and careful consideration is needed in terms of how best to achieve the objectives of socioeconomic and infrastructural development. A 2011 report by the IEA (International Energy Agency) expounded on the many positives of the future of natural gas. It was based on the insatiable appetite for natural gas in China (which has since slowed), the growth in natural gas supply and increasing use of natural gas in transportation. There are some 500 global companies exploring natural gas deposits throughout Africa. As of June 2013, the continent’s natural gas reserves were estimated at 513.2 trillion cubic feet (7% of the global supply).
The Impact of Growing Natural Gas Demand on Africa
Analysts have pointed out that the rise of Africa within the natural gas market will be just as beneficial to the multinational corporations as it will to the small, local participants. The success of natural gas development is incumbent on the participation of governments, NGOs and the corporate sector. Strategic planning is an essential component in the process. The countries with the most abundant supply of natural gas in Africa include Libya, Egypt, Algeria and Nigeria. Combined, these nations own 92% of African natural gas. There are major obstacles to overcome in developing Africa’s vast natural gas resources, including regulatory measures, infrastructure development and malfeasance at the government level. Gas exploration is relatively inexpensive, but development requires massive investment and a strategic commitment. So while the rewards look to be huge, the road to unlocking their full potential is still long and rocky.