Beyond Oil or Gas | Africa’s Imperative Leadership in the Global Renewable Energy Transition

Securing access to electricity is an urgent necessity for Africans. Renewable energy-powered electricity, beyond its role in addressing climate change, is fundamentally a basic need, akin to essentials like food, clothing, and water. The effectiveness of renewable energy in reaching millions without electricity access surpasses that of oil or gas. This is true, not only in my own story but is a shared experience for numerous individuals in Nigeria.

For all Africans, whether in urban or rural areas, affordable, clean, efficient, reliable, climate-proof, and renewable energy is indispensable for residential and productive purposes to achieve sustainable development goals. The critical aspect is that this energy must be both clean and renewable.

Aligned with the SDG Goal 7, the global trajectory aims for decarbonization by 2050. As we progress towards this target, there is a concerted effort to phase out all fossil fuels by 2050 to avert severe climate consequences. Consequently, prospective oil and gas projects in Africa face diminished prospects due to contracting overseas markets and financing. The commitment to this agenda was underscored by the UNFCCC COP 28, despite some mixed sentiments.

Africa’s Oil & Gas Sector

The African oil and gas assets, on average, incur development and operational costs 15 to 20 percent higher and exhibit carbon intensity 70 to 80 percent greater than the global average for such resources. With diminishing global capital for hydrocarbon projects, an analysis by McKinsey & Co suggests that the production costs of oil and gas in Africa are projected to escalate, potentially diminishing the competitiveness of African projects in the global market. As major oil companies pivot towards lower-emission regions, African oil-producing nations may face deprioritization for further development, escalating the risk of stranded assets containing substantial untapped reserves. This situation could intensify pressure on government spending and influence developmental priorities, especially considering that over half of African oil and gas producing countries rely on these resources for over 50 percent of their total export revenues. In Nigeria, for instance, petroleum exports constitute more than 85 percent of the government’s total export revenues.

The geopolitical events, such as the Russian-Ukrainian conflict in 2022, have strengthened the resolve of Europeans and Americans to reduce dependence on Russian gas in the short term and ultimately eliminate reliance on all gas in the medium to long term. This shift is perceived as an opportunity within the energy transition to simultaneously achieve goals of decarbonization and energy independence.

In its net zero by 2050 road map, the International Energy Agency (IEA) highlighted that the global energy sector needs to achieve a significant reduction in the use of hydrocarbons by 2040—including the phasing out of all unabated coal and oil power plants—in order to reach net zero by 2050. As a result, investor scrutiny for oil and gas projects, meanwhile, is intensifying as capital providers factor environmental, social, and governance considerations into their decisions.

Africa’s Potential

Conversely, Africa’s abundant renewable energy potential, particularly in the solar and hydropower sectors, is poised to attract increasingly viable and attractive investments. In net terms, Africa stands to gain substantially from a decisive expansion of renewable energy, including the capacity to manufacture the minerals, hardware, and software integral to the new zero-carbon energy economy.

The core of my message is straightforward: Africa has the potential to take the lead in global renewable energy development, and the time to focus on advanced renewable infrastructure is now. As the world gradually shifts away from oil, approaching the year 2050, there is a consequential reduction in investments, rendering projects in the pipeline potentially unbankable. Africa must act promptly and strategically in embracing renewable energy for a sustainable future.

Shell Divestment in Nigeria fulfilled a Decarbonization Target

In other news, in May 2021, the Netherlands Supreme Court ordered Royal Dutch Shell, through its corporate policy, to reduce its CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030, encompassing the scope 3 emissions of its hydrocarbon products. Interestingly, earlier that year, Shell had outlined one of the most ambitious climate strategies in the sector. The company aims to cut the carbon intensity of its products by a minimum of 6% by 2023, by 20% by 2030, by 45% by 2035, and ultimately achieve a 100% reduction by 2050, measured from 2016 levels.

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, Shell has divested its onshore operations in Nigeria, a move they began planning in 2021. The announcement was released on January 16th. This is not strange if I may say. This move is part of their goals towards sustainability.


It’s evident that the global commitment to transitioning to low-carbon technologies is substantial. African stakeholders must be prepared to seize the opportunities arising in the evolving climate economy.

Stay tuned for more insights on this in a subsequent post.


Glory Oguegbu is a climate specialist, energy transition entrepreneur, accomplished writer, and published author dedicated to advancing a zero-carbon world. Her mission revolves around promoting climate literacy, advocating for a just energy transition, and actively contributing to the development of renewable energy projects. Through her work, she aims to provide Nigerians with access to clean electricity, playing a pivotal role in sustainable and environmentally friendly energy solutions. Oguegbu’s efforts have been recognized with awards in acknowledgment of her significant contributions to the field.

She’s the founder and CEO of the Renewable Energy Technology Training Institute (RETTI) created to support electricity access which will benefit 93 million Nigerians by training and preparing new solar installers. RETTI has since trained 3000+ engineers who provided electricity for 15, 000 homes/businesses and offset 840, 000 tonnes of C02 through installations. Glory pioneered Climate Smart Nigeria, an ambitious environmental program designed to combat low climate literacy in Africa. Through the CSN, she created Africa’s first contextualized climate education learning toolkits and the Climate Leadership Fellowship.

She regularly shares her insights on these subjects through her BLOG and LINKEDIN articles. Through her writing, Glory contributes to the discourse surrounding climate change, energy sustainability, and the broader implications of the evolving energy landscape.

MORE BELOW (click to visit link)

-Explore Glory’s Books HERE

Climate and Energy Milestones Achieved in 2023

Projects Preparing New Workforce for Energy Transition

Africa Fellowship for Young Energy Leaders

RETTI Virtual University

EXPLORE Our newest Project – The RETTI Solar Manufacturing Factory


Columbia Institute of Sustainable Investing

Future of Africa Oil and Gas McKinsey & CO

International Energy Agency


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