Civil society organizations, experts and stakeholders from different sectors came together in this online seminar to discuss on the opportunities and risk associated with the production of green hydrogen so the webinar served as a learning, exchange, and collaborative platform among participants as they will share their insights and perspectives on green hydrogen production in Africa. 

Mr. Eugene N Nforngwa, who is the just transition and energy lead at PACJA (Pan African Climate Justice Alliance) and project lead at ACSEA (Africa Coalition for Sustainable Energy and Access) in his opening word defined green hydrogen as a form of energy produced from renewable energy sources like solar, wind or hydro power, which is considered clean. Green hydrogen is very versatile as an energy carrier, it can be used for transportation, industry, and power generation. Green hydrogen can reduce emissions and enhance energy security, especially in Africa where most do not have access to clean energy, which is where our interest lies. He added that This project is jointly implemented with another project which aims to enhance civil society engagement with renewable energy initiatives. 

He went further to highlight the risk and challenges associated with green hydrogen production in Africa which areas follow; 

  • excessive cost 
  • Infrastructure which is not available in producing countries 
  • regulatory barriers that may exist around this type of energy and source 
  • social acceptance 
  • environmental consideration that needs to be looked at 
  • geopolitical implications especially in the coin context 

Leonie Beaucam, policy adviser on climate change for German watch in her presentation stated that green hydrogen is widely perceived as an alternative with extremely low emissions. It is produced by splitting water into its two components, oxygen, and hydrogen, using electrolysis. This process is driven by renewable energy, in most cases solar PV or wind energy stressing on the importance of this project to the African continent, she went further to explain that Not only do many African countries have an enormous potential for renewable energy production, but also for that of green hydrogen at Considerably lower costs than in other parts of the world as well as the potential to drive domestic industrialization could make green hydrogen a crucial resource for African countries so the project is looking at the risk and benefits associated with the production of green hydrogen with benefits as seen below; 

  • possibility of upstream industries to supply this industrial sector 
  • possibility of downstream use of hydrogen to produce green steel or fertilizer 
  • diversification of local economics 
  • job creation as there will be new opportunities for training and education 
  • Expansion of Renewable energy generation which is in accordance with SDG7 (Sustainable Development Goal 7) 
  • input on green hydrogen in the context of just energy transition partnership 
  • Green hydrogen is a medium to restore renewable energy 
  • Green hydrogen could be the only possibility to decarbonize certain industrial sectors 

Despite green hydrogen production being a terrific opportunity for Africa, it comes with its own downsides which cannot be overlooked; 

  • Extravertive dynamics, the export focus without local added value 
  • Projects developing in isolation to the local community, no local workers will be included, and no training opportunity will be created 
  • Use of local resources without local benefits, that is no creation of added value to local population 
  • From a 100% renewable energy input, there is only a 65% green energy output 

Mohamed Fakir who is the executive director of the African climate foundation in his speech made some pertinent remarks 

  • The first challenge facing this project is that of hype versus reality, there is a lot of investment driven hype to attract new or potential investment partners, and most of these projects end up failing, so care needs to be taken with the green hydrogen project 
  • We are dealing with a fragmented market, geopolitical fragments that are emerging around green hydrogen. 
  • This project will be an opportunity for some and a disadvantage for others because some regions are better suited for green hydrogen compared to others 
  • The level of industrialization that a region will have will determine whether they are the primary or secondary markets 
  • It may lead to creation of boom towns, rapid energy development and associated industrialization and population growth 
  • Will green hydrogen also compete for energy security, that is ensuring affordable access to electricity for local population 
  • Green hydrogen involves energy loss and that is a negative cost effect 

Dr. August B Njamnshi, executive director at ACSEA and Co-chair at Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) posed a remarkable question, production of green hydrogen for who? He went further to explain, if there is anything that will alleviate the problem of access to energy by the 650 million Africans then we want to interrogate such a venture. Fresh water is needed for electrolysis for green hydrogen but in a continent like Africa where climate change is impacting communities in a water sector and agricultural sector, is it not better to produce this water for community use for their growth and activities? At the end of the day, if Africa remains a source of material to build the industrial knots, then it is doing an excellent job for this world. 

Key recommendations from participants 

  • production of questionnaire to distribute to participants so they can have time to better answer questions 
  • The need to answer the question, green hydrogen for who? And ensure these kinds of workshops are multiplied in the African continent 
  • Ensure that the governance structure around energy be addressed to ensure production benefits stay in producing countries 
  • Need to carry out an environmental impact assessment to point out how this project is going to affect ecosystems and other coastal areas with increased concentration of salt 
  • Show the notion of profit for the local people as many companies will be focused on profit 
  • There should not be a negative competition on the drinking water that is used by the local community 
  • Percentage of production should be exploited locally by the African population 
  • Need for the voices of the civil societies to be heard 

The session ended with closing remarks from Dr Augustine B Njamnshi who on behalf of PACJA, ACSEA and German watch thanked everyone for their participation and interest in this important topic that concerns the African continent. From comments, it was clearly seen that everyone wants things to change for Africa, but this can only happen if we all stand up and take action to participate in decision making. 

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