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Africa Could be Poised to Play a Pivotal Role as Hydrogen Production and Export Hubs

Hydrogen is a versatile element that is in growing demand. It provides a feedstock for industries such as iron and steel, petrochemicals and ammonia, it can be used in power generation, and it is used in low-carbon fuel cells for the transport sector and for energy storage. But the hydrogen industry needs to clean up its act, if it is to be part of the solution to meeting climate change targets. That’s where Africa comes into the picture. Blessed with vast untapped solar and wind resources and plenty of space to develop them, African countries are hoping to tap these resources to create their own green hydrogen sectors. A number of African countries – backed by funding and other support from enthusiastic international development agencies and financial institutions – have already joined the race to become established as hydrogen hubs. Various projects have been announced, though most remain in the early stages of development. Egypt has at least five green hydrogen projects in the pipeline. Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, Niger and South Africa have also drawn up plans for hydrogen production facilities. A hydrogen plant would effectively add to offtake options for renewables providers, taking solar and wind output when that exceeds demand from other users – or when the grid is down, a common occurrence in many parts of the continent. Then the plant could scale back production when grid demand picks up to allow renewable power to be redirected to other users.