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Mali Power Sovereign Mali - Mini Hydropower Plants and Related Distribution Networks Development Project (PDM-Hydro) 20,000,000 Implementation


08 Sep 2022

Renewable Hydrogen to Anchor an African-European Partnership of Equals

Green Hydrogen, AU, EU
Africa-EU Energy-Partnership / Johan van den Berg
Green Hydrogen, AEEP

The Africa-EU partnership has recently been renewed and ambitions scaled up. It is now supported by a significant funding package known as the Global Gateway Africa – Europe Investment Package, which allocates an amount of € 150 billion to Africa. “Our commitment to our partnership with Africa is reinforced, and the reciprocal energy cooperation is important for the EU. We are committed to supporting Africa in the energy transition”, said Carla Montesi, Director for Green Deal and Digital Agenda, Directorate-General for International Partnerships, DG INTPA, European Commission, during the recent, virtual AEEP Forum, which brought together African and European climate and energy experts to discuss how future energy systems on both continents can allow human prosperity in a climate-compatible way.


The Africa – Europe Investment Package, including its two electricity-related, specific initiatives that promote increased renewable energy capacity for electricity generation and improved electricity interconnectivity in Africa were also discussed at the Forum (second article ), as was the importance of the third targeted intervention, the promotion of green hydrogen co-operation between Africa and Europe. The global energy transition will most probably see the greatest possible proportion of the total energy system electrified, with green hydrogen likely to play a very important role in the hard-to-decarbonise sectors like heavy transport, aviation and on-site heat demand for heavy manufacturing and fertilisers.    


It is in this domain where the partnership of equals between the continents shows its true potential to yield significant, mutual benefits. “In the long term both continents will work together to achieve the climate ambitions through the development of green hydrogen technologies and markets”, said Kamugisha Kazaura, DIE Director, AUC, at the AEEP Forum.


Green hydrogen is sometimes said to be the oil of the post-oil era. It has wide application in crucial economic sectors that have little or no other route to decarbonisation. Its primary inputs are electricity and water, yielding hydrogen and oxygen. The electricity needs to be cheap, and, to fit in with climate imperatives, renewable. It seems highly likely that solar PV and wind will be the energy sources of choice. Desalination is possible and can be sized to yield additional water to African populations.


Analysis by the World Bank, IRENA and others, time and again conclude Africa is richly blessed with both wind and solar resources, able to meet all its own needs at least hundreds of times over with the resources it has. Moreover, Africa has abundant land. Africa can likely produce green hydrogen more cost-effectively than most other regions globally and certainly more cost-effectively than Europe, with its much smaller landmass and lesser solar irradiation. “We want to see African countries in the hydrogen revolution”, said Dr Kandeh Yumkella, Co-Chair of the Africa Europe Foundation Strategy Group on Energy and former CEO of SEforALL, during the AEEP Forum.

North Africa’s proximity to Europe and existing exports of natural gas mean that green hydrogen will be able to slot in easily as a replacement. Green ammonia can be made with the same process and has massive potential as a green fertiliser and a green shipping fuel, while also being a way to transport what could later become green hydrogen. While Australia has already signed an agreement to export green ammonia to Europe, Africa is better placed geographically and poised to benefit.


Green hydrogen is, however, most valuable in the end stages of the energy transition, which Europe will enter 10 – 20 years before Africa. Careful structuring of green hydrogen projects built for export can ensure that local energy benefits accrue through increased access or through the rerouting of export earnings back into energy access and the imperative of SDG 7. This is a relatively simple matter of market design, which could build on the successful socio-economic aspects of South Africa´s Renewable Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP) procurement system. Rita Madeira, Africa Program Officer, IEA, concluded at the AEEP Forum that hydrogen is a long-term opportunity that hopefully will bring prosperity to the African continent.


The Global Gateway Investment Package as framed by the recent EU-AU Summit Declaration creates an excellent anchor to allow the development of renewable hydrogen, focusing on the following cooperation aspects between the continents:


  • research and innovation
  • regulatory policy
  • direct investments; and
  • undistorted and fair trade in hydrogen, its derivatives, and the associated technologies and services.

As Africa prepares to host COP27 in Egypt, in November, and as just energy transition partnerships are revisited, the bi-continental energy partnership once again becomes a constituent part of global collaboration towards sustainability. Therefore, working together on green hydrogen seems ready to be a prominent example of collaboration between the two continents for mutual benefit.



This blog is authored by the Africa-EU Energy-Partnership / Johan van den Berg, Head of Secretariat. This is the third article of a three-part series.



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