Africa is being “punished” by the decisions of Western countries to end public financing for foreign fossil-fuel projects by the end of 2022, Niger’s president has said.
The comments came within weeks of a May 27 pledge by the Group of Seven (G7) industrialised democracies to phase out support for new investment in foreign oil, gas and coal projects by end of this year. The ban applies to schemes that are “unabated,” meaning those that fail to take steps to ease or capture carbon pollution.
“We are going to continue to fight, we have fossil fuels that should be exploited,” said President Mohamed Bazoum at a business forum in the Ivorian commercial city of Abidjan.
“At one point, companies had plans to mine Niger’s coal. But with these measures, no banks are willing to commit – we are being punished,” he said.
He made the remarks at the Africa CEO Forum, a two-day conference gathering about 1,500 African business executives and politicians.
The West’s decision to cut fossil investments could be detrimental to the economy of Niger, the least developed country in the world according to the 189-nation Human Development Index (HDI) compiled by the UN.
A similar declaration was signed in November last year by 20 countries at the COP26 UN climate parlay in Glasgow, a move expanding a ban that several had already imposed on financing for coal.
Senegalese President Macky Sall who was present at the conference supported Bazoum’s remarks.
“Let the African continent be allowed to exploit its natural resources,” he said. “It is frankly unbelievable that those who have been exploiting oil and its derivatives for more than a century prevent African countries from reaping the value of their resources.”
Sall said he hoped that COP27, running in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh from November 6-18, would open the way to a “balanced agreement which takes Africa’s reality into account”.
Sall also said that African countries were being hit by Western-led payment restrictions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
“Africa should be able to obtain a mechanism from all its partners, especially the West – a mechanism such as Europe uses [to buy] Russian gas – which enables us to continue to import fertiliser and wheat from Russia without payment difficulties,” he said.
“If we don’t have fertiliser for our locally grown grain, which is important in our diet, we will face a genuine risk of famine,” he said, describing Africa as a “collateral victim” of the conflict.
Russia’s invasion has choked off grain exports from Ukraine, one of the world’s bread baskets, forcing up the cost of wheat. The two countries together account for approximately 30 percent of the global trade in wheat.
The United Nations warned that 18 million people in Africa’s Sahel region face severe hunger in the next three months, citing the effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the coronavirus pandemic, climate-induced shocks and rising costs.