May 30, 2024
Fostering a Sustainable Coal Value Chain: World Coal Association Joins African Energy Week 2023 as Partner
– By Godswill Odiong

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Africa’s extensive coal reserves, estimated at 16.4 billion short tons, have long-played a central part in providing baseload power to the continent’s grid while serving as feedstock for international coal plants. With energy security becoming a rising concern worldwide, African nations rich in coal are actively pursuing best practices to optimize resource extraction and utilization, with the aim of expediting sustainable development and meeting global demand. Organizations such as the World Coal Association are instrumental under this agenda, and will play an important part in driving sustainable coal development in the long-term.

The African Energy Chamber (AEC) – the voice of the African energy sector – is proud to announce the World Coal Association has joined the African Energy Week (AEW) 2023 conference – Africa’s premier event for the energy sector, scheduled for 16–20 October in Cape Town – as a partner. The organization is dedicated to promoting the adoption of clean coal technologies to foster sustainable economic development, and during the event, will shape discussions around the role coal will play in alleviating energy poverty in Africa.

Amidst ongoing global debate around the future of coal, the World Coal Association is at the forefront of shaping discussions and initiatives aimed at revitalizing the global coal value chain through innovative approaches. By promoting investment in coal mining and clean coal technologies, the organization plays an instrumental part in ensuring the sustainable development of economies worldwide. These efforts are designed to align with global energy security and environmental objectives.

While many stakeholders are calling for an end to coal-use and the transition to cleaner sources of fuel, coal continues to play an important part in providing energy to Africa. Currently, 600 million people are without electricity across the continent and the continent’s coal reserves represent a pivotal catalyst for enhancing electrification and development. Coal-producing nations in Africa, such as South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Tanzania and Swaziland, continue to grapple with significant electricity shortages, owing largely to lack of investment. This unfortunate trend underscores the need to increase capital expenditure across the industry, both for domestic consumption and exports.

Recognizing the integral role of coal in sustainable development, African nations are proactively advancing their coal industries to reap the associated benefits. For instance, South Africa is currently engaged in a comprehensive effort to modernize its coal-fired power plants, thereby enhancing energy security. Similarly, Botswana has unveiled plans to construct a $2.5 billion coal-to-liquids facility, aimed at reducing reliance on imported petroleum products. Senegal has also joined this endeavor by reactivating its 125 MW Sendou power plant. Additionally, Zimbabwe has expanded its coal exports, contributing to revenue growth and meeting the escalating global demand through the shipment of 20,000 tons of washed coal per month from the Lubu project to the global market.

Notwithstanding energy security benefits, the effective monetization of these resources will help foster job creation, capacity building and technology transfer across the entire value chain, spanning mining, storage, transportation and more. The industry offers a substantial avenue for Africa to expand its export revenues, which can be strategically reinvested to fortify various sectors of the economy, including vital infrastructure development. As such, organizations such as the World Coal Association are poised to help stimulate the development of the industry by driving discussions around the benefits coal offer for Africa.

“Coal has historically been the backbone of the global economy. We commend the World Coal Association for its unwavering dedication to fostering worldwide dialogue on the critical significance of coal in propelling sustainable development and facilitating the transition towards a low-emissions future,” stated NJ Ayuk, the Executive Chairman of the AEC.

AEW 2023 will host distinguished representatives from the World Coal Association during exclusive networking sessions, where cutting-edge innovative and clean coal technologies and projects will be showcased. These initiatives are actively contributing to Africa’s energy renaissance as well as efforts to alleviate energy poverty, enhance consumer access to dependable and cost-effective energy, and drive towards industrialization across the continent.

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