Fuel Infrastructure Investment Crucial for Africa’s Energy Security

Africa must invest $9.3 billion in expanding its fuel-transportation infrastructure to prevent supply disruptions as demand for fuel grows, according to Puma Energy, one of the continent’s largest fuel retailers. The region’s fuel pipeline network is considerably smaller compared to that of the United States, creating potential bottlenecks that could affect supply as demand continues to increase.

Fadi Mitri, head of Africa for Trafigura Group subsidiary Puma Energy, highlighted the challenges during a conference in Cape Town. “You might have the right price, the right regulation, but if your ports are congested, if the roads are congested, if the pipeline leaks, if there is no storage, you will not have energy security,” he said.

According to research by Puma Energy and consultant Citac, demand for hydrocarbon fuels in Africa is expected to grow by 56% by 2040. This significant growth, coupled with a lack of fuel-storage facilities and limited port access, could create distribution challenges that slow the pace of fuel supply.

Companies like Vitol Group, which focus on fuel distribution, view Africa as a key market for transportation growth driven by gasoline and diesel. However, the investment needed to support this growth may be challenging, given that many companies and banks face increased scrutiny for lending to new African fossil-fuel projects due to environmental concerns. Despite this, there’s also pressure to fund oil and gas projects as African governments defend their right to develop resources on a continent that contributes a fraction of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Mitri stressed the importance of coordinated planning for any new fuel infrastructure projects. “They will need master planning,” he said. “They will need coordination.” He warned against isolated projects that might lead to competition, suggesting that a cohesive approach is necessary to meet Africa’s growing energy needs while ensuring supply security.

The need for significant investment in fuel-transportation infrastructure underscores the broader challenges facing African nations as they seek to balance economic development and environmental sustainability. Proper planning and investment in infrastructure could help Africa address its energy demands and maintain stability in fuel supply as the continent continues to grow.

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