Panafrican News Agency

Africa's vast mineral potential to power 'green energy' shift

Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire (PANA) - African countries should rise to the growing demand for clean energy products to effectively market the minerals used in the production of goods including lithium batteries for powering electric cars.

Africa’s minerals sector should seize these opportunities especially those presented by the global transition towards green energy, experts at the African Development Bank (AfDB) said on Tuesday.

Speaking during a virtual workshop on the future of mining in Africa post-COVID-19, the experts said the change to renewable energy should focus on the manufacturing of climate-sensitive products with less carbon dioxide emissions such as lithium.

The African Natural Resources Centre (ANRC) and the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF), both entities of the AfDB, said the change to the new products would facilitate the change to green energy around the globe.

The experts whose workshop was held in partnership with Nordic Africa Institute, part of a series examining the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Africa’s extractives sector, particularly minerals, oil and gas, called for action from Africa.

"The ongoing global transition towards green energy and rapid decarbonisation holds significant potential for Africa’s extractives sector," the AfDB said in a statement.

The experts insisted the opportunities lie in growing demand globally for lithium, which is used in batteries for electric vehicles, smartphones and off-grid energy storage.

“Africa is strategically positioned to derive maximum benefits from the growing global lithium-ion batteries (LIB) industry,” said Dr. Cosmas Ochieng, Director of the ANRC.

In 2018, Zimbabwe and Namibia were among the top 10 global producers of lithium, with Zimbabwe alone holding 11 million tonnes of lithium ore in its Bikita mines in the country’s Masvingo region.

African leaders must step up and include battery production as a continent-wide development priority, participants urged.

Among other themes discussed by the participants was the Africa Mining Vision (AMV), a policy framework created by the African Union in 2009 to ensure Africa utilizes its mineral resources strategically for broad-based, inclusive development.

“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,” said Dr. Antonio Pedro, Director of the Economic Commission for Africa’s sub-regional office for Central Africa.

In a presentation on drivers of the sector in the post-pandemic period, Dr. Kwasi Ampofo, metals analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said “adoption of renewable energy is rising in the mining sector. Investments in renewable energy have increased significantly in the last 10 years".

Dr. Ampofo urged African mining companies to take a lead in decarbonization of their operations and the transition to clean energy to attract ‘green’ funds. 

-0- PANA AO/MA 16Dec2020