Figure 1: Screenshot of attendees during the virtual panel discussion

SASSCAL and WASCAL participated in the high level and well-attended session during the “1ST UNLOCKING INDUSTRIES –GREEN HYDROGEN IN AFRICA” online event. The event was hosted by the Afrika-Verein Veranstaltungs-GmbH (AVV) on 8th of June 2021. The main objective of the conference was to provide country insights on hydrogen potential and business opportunities and discussions on the necessary strategic approaches for private sector and politics. This was the first ever premium event in German, European & African hydrogen cooperation and a starting point for unlocking industries worldwide through hydrogen in Africa.

The virtual panel discussion, titled “Establishing a Green Hydrogen partnership with West Africa – new paths for a climate-friendly and economic development” was moderated by Dr. Jane Olwoch, SASSCAL Executive director. The panel discussion speakers were Dr. Christoph Röevekamp, the Head of Energy and Green Hydrogen Technologies Division, from BMBF, Dr Philipp Wendel, Head of Unit Federal Foreign Office (AA), Christoph Kannengiesser, CEO Afrika-Verein der deutschen Wirtschaft, Dr Solomon Agbo, Project leader Research Center Juelich, Mr Baboucarr Njie, Project manager ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), Dr Moumini Savadogo, Executive Director of WASCAL.

Dr Olwoch highlighted the symbiotic relationship (interaction) between environment and development as the two are inseparable. Dr Olwoch stated that green hydrogen is the current and future topic both in Germany and Africa, it was also very clear that the development of global green hydrogen offers tremendous opportunity in Germany, Africa and globally. This also takes us closer to the realisation of the Paris agreement and the United Nation sustainable development goals, she added.

Speaking at the conference Dr. Röevekamp highlighted the importance of politics, business and science, above all international cooperation to build green hydrogen economy globally. He remarked  “we want to build hydrogen bridges between Africa and Europe that benefits both sides”. Hydrogen economy will give Africa enormous positive economic and social development boost and Europe will change the energy system in the sense of preserving the climate. It was also reiterated that local needs in Africa always have a priority. He a acknowledged the dynamic economic development in West Africa, he stated that “green hydrogen now offers west Africa a great opportunity to ignite the turbine in the expansion of sustainable energy system and to take advantage of technological progress”. Green hydrogen is a game changer for our future global energy supply. The cross-state cooperation on green hydrogen in west Africa and southern Africa as well as the collaboration with Germany undoubtedly already forms a unique and historic project. He further stated that, “the H2Atlas is a compass for the implementation of green hydrogen-based economy in sub-Saharan Africa”. Based on the result from the H2Atlas, we want to provide companies to develop customised solution for the green hydrogen economy in Africa. Moreover, he also highlighted Germanys commitment to fund more projects in the future.

Head of Unit Federal Foreign Office, Dr Wendel explained the theme of hydrogen from geopolitical angle. He stated, “Hydrogen is a great opportunity for countries to emerge as the energy hubs for the future”. The new market for CO2 neutrality is a great opportunity but it’s also a risk/challenge for certain states/nations, especially for those countries exporting fossil fuels. One of the goal in the foreign office is to support these countries on the path towards decarbonisation, he added.

Mr Christoph Kannengiesser, the CEO of Afrika-Verein gave an insight into the expectations and commitment of the business interest to collaborate with Africa. He says, “the initiative taken by the German government in facilitating and supporting hydrogen development in African countries so far are big steps in the right direction”. He also thanked BMBF for engaging the German industry from the beginning of this initiative.

The project coordinator, Dr Solomon Agbo made a presentation on the main findings of H2Atlas for the west Africa region. The first project results show that the availability of plenty of eligible land for renewable energy and hydrogen development, abundant renewable energy, huge technical potential in terms of the amount of green hydrogen generation. Furthermore, the Atlas shows that the social benefit in terms of energy access, stimulation of economic activities that has the potential to make impact.

Dr Moumini Savadogo, Executive Director of WASCAL emphasised that green hydrogen is a niche for climate smart solution to Africa and the world. He further highlighted that “green hydrogen brings to us opportunities for better adaptation but also contributes through co-benefits of climate change mitigation”. He reiterated that west Africa is ready to welcome business and investors to develop hydrogen production activities in the region. WASCAL as a science service provider will continue collaborating strongly with its partners to build a sustainable energy production. He also added the establishment of international master’s program in green hydrogen and 16 students are fully benefiting from these scholarships.  It is also anticipated to fill the human capacity development gaps in the region. ECREEE Project manager, Mr Njie underlined the green hydrogen activities which are taking place and ECREEE’s contribution in ECOWAS region.

Dr Olwoch concluded the session by shedding light on H2Atlas project in Southern Africa, “We are also ready in southern Africa, we are now validating the national teams data, most of the countries are already finished”. SASSCAL is at the verge of completing collecting data in SADC for the production of the green hydrogen Atlas in Southern Africa.

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