PRETORIA, The Southern African Development Community (SADC) intends to establish an inter-state natural gas committee to look into how best to exploit the huge gas reserves in the sub-region, says South Africa's President Jacob Zuma.
Recent reports indicated that the southern African sub-region could be sitting on massive natural gas reserves of up to 600 trillion cubic feet. However, the reserves, found mainly in Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Botswana, remain virtually untapped.
On its part, Zimbabwe has huge coal-bed methane with a 2013 study showing that the country could be sitting on at least 800 billion cubic metres (m3) of gas.
President Zuma, who assumed the chair of the 16-nation sub-regional bloc during the SADC Summit of heads of state and government here over the weekend, told the other leaders at the summit that the inter-state committee would explore how to develop a regional gas economy.
One of the potential game changers for the region is the discovery of globally significant natural gas both on shore and offshore in a number of our member states, he said.
As a new initiative, we are proposing the establishment of an inter-state natural gas committee to share ideas for regional gas development and to prepare for the development of the wider gas economy, this is what we need to do and I am hoping we are not going to say we need lots of processes to establish this committee, it is a decision we can take here and then look at the modalities later.
President Zuma said exploiting gas for energy uses would greatly reduce the region's energy challenges. The inclusion and promotion of gas into the regional energy mix will facilitate an increase in universal access to energy as well as industrial development in the SADC, he added.
Gas-fired power plants, for example, have numerous benefits, including emitting less carbon content than coal, using less water and also have shorter period of construction.
Speaking at the same occasion, African Development Bank (AfDB) President Dr Akinwumi Adesina said the bank strongly supported development in the energy sector. He said Africa needed to address fundamental structural challenges that have continued to hamper economic growth.
At the top of the list is electricity. That is why the AfDB is investing heavily in the power sector. Through our New Deal on Energy for Africa, the bank is investing 12 billion USD over the next five years in the energy sector. And just a few weeks ago, I signed a new 6.0 billion USD new energy financing facility to be provided by Japan under the Japan-Africa Energy
Facility to support power systems, transmission and distribution projects including clean coal technologies, Adesina added.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK