It is time the world looked to Africa for energy amid the climate, energy, and geopolitical crises that have been raging for some time now. During a discussion on “Repowering the World” at the 53rd World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan made a statement.
Hassan stated Africa requires a lot of energy because many Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies are being used there and because a lot of associated manufacturing is done there. He made a request for more private sector investment in Tanzania.
Ilham Kadri, CEO and Chairman of the Executive Committee at Solvay, asserted that chemistry is the mother of all industries and that it is crucial to establish diverse supply chains for metals and rare earths like lithium, cobalt, nickel, and copper that are crucial components of EV batteries and have numerous other uses in the energy transition.
In order to prevent a “Russian gas supply syndrome,” she said, Europe and other nations must discover varied sources of these metals and minerals as well as localize battery assembly. China has been developing rare earths value chains for decades.
When questioned about the United States’ new Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which offers funding and incentives to accelerate the clean energy transition and has stoked concerns in Europe of an investment drain, Kadri said that Europe needs policies that “get it done quicker” in terms of everything from reskilling workers to issuing permits. She stated that in order to stop deindustrialization, Europe must increase its competitiveness.
In a same spirit, Mark Rutte, the prime minister of the Netherlands, stated that the IRA is a chance for Europe to reduce red tape, which would open doors for innovation, new jobs, and cooperating on a European scale, or else “real action will migrate to Asia and other parts of the world.”
When asked if Europe had erred by relying on cheap Russian gas for an extended period of time, Rutte acknowledged that it should have been done sooner, but added that it was a common failing rather than just Germany’s, as it is sometimes believed. In the short to medium range, natural gas will still be used as a transition fuel, but in the long term, the trajectory is clearly toward renewables, green hydrogen, and even nuclear power.
In order to feed the EU, the US has greatly increased its gas output, according to West Virginia senator Joe Manchin III (D). The US would increase gas production, he continued, but it would do it cleaner than ever while also investing in carbon capture, methane capture, renewable energy, storage, and other technologies.
With regard to fossil fuels, UK opposition leader Keir Starmer said his party, the Labour Party, supports their use throughout the energy transition but opposes any more investments in areas in the North Sea or elsewhere.
According to Starmer, the British Prime Minister’s absence from Davos was indicative of a broader inability to expand the economy. He stated that in order to realize the full potential of the UK, trust in institutions must be rebuilt and public and private investment must be balanced. “Britain has not had a strategic plan for 10 years, and foreign direct investment in the UK is down to 4%,” he said.