Natural gas to unite West Africa

Natural gas to unite West Africa

Elisa Maria Giannetto
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A deal has been signed for the construction of a trans-continental gas pipeline that will run along the Atlantic coast, linking Morocco and Nigeria and enabling the transport of natural gas to Europe - a major step forward for regional economic integration

A $25 billion investment, crossing some 400,000 km, with the involvement of 15 countries, creating tens of thousands of jobs and achieving various goals. The gas pipeline mega-project received the official OK from Rabat to start construction on a project that will carry Nigerian natural gas to Europe. At a ceremony yesterday, attended by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, Nigerian foreign minister Geoffrey Onyeama called the conclusion of the accords proof of the Rabat-Abuja partnership’s success, which he attributed to the political will in both countries to guarantee the execution of bilateral projects. Morocco’s minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, Nasser Bourita, hailed the project as one developed by Africans and for Africans, a perfect demonstration of a diplomacy of speech and action, and a manifestation of Mohammed VI’s vision for the continent. The gas pipeline will reportedly impact over 300 million people, accelerating electrification throughout West Africa by laying the foundation for a competitive regional electricity market.
Local experts agree that the project is the largest ever undertaken by Morocco. The goal is to link Nigeria, the world’s 22nd largest natural gas producer and 5th largest exporter (1st in Africa), to Europe, while at the same time fostering development and opportunities for all countries involved in the project. At the moment, Nigeria mainly exports liquefied natural gas by sea. Natural gas is also exported in limited amounts by means of a small pipeline linking Nigeria with Benin, Togo and Ghana. Rabat also sees the undertaking as a major project for the promotion of regional economic integration, since the pipeline is being planned with the participation of all countries affected by its creation. Among other benefits, the project will accelerate electrification throughout West Africa. In the meantime, South Africa may issue the first licenses for exploration of new gas deposits by the end of September.