Experts discussed how Africa's mineral sector should seize the opportunities presented by the global transition towards green energy, and the ways in which the industry should take advantage of these prospective opportunities to boost the continent's oil, gas and mineral sector
A webinar organised by the African Natural Resources Centre (ANRC) and the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF), both entities of the African Development Bank, in partnership with Nordic Africa Institute, was one of a series of webinars that examined the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the continent's extractives sector: particularly oil, gas and minerals.
Participants heard of the significant potential the global transition towards green energy and rapid decarbonisation holds for Africa's extractives sector.
One of these opportunities lies in the growing demand globally for lithium, which is used in batteries for electric vehicles, smartphones and off-grid energy storage. Dr Cosmas Ochieng, director of the ARNC, moderated the event on December 9, and explained: "Africa is strategically positioned to derive maximum benefits from the growing lithim-ion batteries industry." In 2018, Zimbabwe and Namibia were among the top 10 global producers of lithium; Zimbabwe alone held 11 million tonnes of lithium ore in its Bikita mines, in the country's Masvingo region. Participants urged African leaders to step up and include battery production as a continent-wide development priority.
Among other themes discussed during the webinar was the Africa Mining Vision (AMV), a policy framework created in 2009 by the African Union to ensure Africa utilises its mineral resources strategically.
“The realisation of the Vision hinges on strong political will and a commitment to developing strong capable mineral management systems and institutions. It requires an astute understanding of Africa’s relative advantages in the global mineral value chain,” explained Dr Antonio Pedro, director for the Ecomonic Commission for Africa's sub-regional office for Central Africa.
Dr Kwasi Ampofo, metals analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, during a presentation on the drivers of the sector in the post-pandemic period, explained: "Adoption of renewable energy is rising in the mining sector. Investments in renewable energy have increased significantly in the last ten years."
Dr Ampofo urged African mining companies to lead the way in decarbonisation of their operations and transition to clean energy to attract 'green funds'.