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Africa’s Role in Europe’s Energy Transition

N.J. Ayuk tried for years to tout African oil and gas projects to European governments and companies. “I used to beg for them to take my calls,” said Ayuk, the executive chairman of the African Energy Chamber. But with oil price volatility shaking global markets amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and fears of fuel shortages, European nations are looking more closely at Africa’s abundant natural gas as a potential new source of energy, he said. The E.U. buys 45 percent of its imported gas from Russia, according to the International Energy Agency. That means opportunity for Africa, which has some of the world’s largest natural gas reserves. The African supply could replace some of the 155 billion cubic meters that Europe imported from Russia last year. An example of the changing dynamics is the proposed Trans-Saharan gas pipeline recently resurrected by the Algerian government, which could send up to 30 billion cubic meters a year from Nigeria to Algeria via Niger and on to Europe. Still, developing such projects as the Saharan pipeline from Nigeria also comes with security challenges. Militant groups in Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger Delta region have threatened to resume attacks amid disagreements over the share of oil wealth. The country has also grappled with kidnappings for ransom and deadly Islamist insurgencies.