Ramaphosa: Give SA space to extract oil and gas while switching to clean energy

President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke on Tuesday about Investing in African Mining Indaba

President Cyril Ramaphosa said it is vital to give South Africa the space to extract oil and gas as it is part of a global energy transition away from fossil fuels.

“As we address the reality of energy insecurity and the development of new energy sources, it is imperative that South Africa, like all developing economies, has the necessary development space,” Ramaphosa said in a speech to Investing in. African Mining Indaba on Tuesday.

“Countries on the African continent must be able to explore and extract oil and gas in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way,” he said. “These resources are important for energy security, for social and economic development and for reducing energy poverty on the continent. And we don’t think this trajectory is mutually exclusive due to our focus on reducing our carbon footprint.”

He noted that as South Africa embarks on a just energy transition, it is important to adhere to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

Ramaphosa’s comments come as the exploration of oil and gas off South Africa meets increasing resistance. Regulatory appeals and legal challenges to businesses have frustrated and exploration efforts off the country are also planned.

At the same time, in the the Rovuma basin off the coast of neighboring Mozambique a significant gas discovery is under development while a recent, major oil discovery is underway the deep waters of Namibia – in the Orange Basin that extends into South African waters – it is hypothesized that it is among the largest commercial finds of oil ever found on the African continent.

“In our march towards a low-carbon future it is imperative that our efforts are realistic and sustainable,” said Ramaphosa.

In line with South Africa’s just transition efforts, it is in the process of mobilizing international finance as part of the effort to ensure that affected communities and existing industries are supported, he added.

“It is clear that as our dependence on coal decreases, we need to create pathways to new economic activity for workers in affected industries,” he said.