Public-private partnerships are key to developing gas supply projects in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Nepad Business Foundation (NBF) Africa infrastructure programme manager Peter Varndell said on Monday.
Speaking at the Africa Gas Forum, in Johannesburg, he said there was strong gas supply potential in the SADC region, but a weak market to deliver to within SADC’s borders.
He noted that a multi-stakeholder platform for public-private sector dialogue would enable and support the monetisation of natural gas resources in the region.
“A stakeholder engagement platform would help stimulate broader regional demand and infrastructure investment,” he said.
Varndell added that identifying and preparing a shortlist of viable natural gas-based anchor projects and downstream linkages and densification opportunities were key to developing the region’s natural gas resources.
He pointed out that if SADC were to develop a natural gas master plan, it would assist in shifting market dynamics to attract investment and develop natural gas resources.
“There is an estimated 600-trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves in Southern Africa and the SADC region. A master plan would be a useful blueprint to enhance economies of scale, help transform the regional economy and leverage regional value chains,” he said.
He noted that most gas discoveries on the continent were in isolated locations and focused on the export of liquid natural gas.
“With the exception of South Africa, opportunities for the industrialisation of the domestic market are limited, owing to insufficient demand. It is imperative to look beyond national borders and identify potential demand and uses for natural gas throughout Africa,” he stated.
Varndell further said it was important to identify and scope opportunities for industrial development, including strategic locations for large-scale industrial projects based on supply and demand balance and markets.
He stated that the NBF was setting up an SADC gas task force to provide a forum for public-private sector dialogue and to support the development of the regional nascent gas sector by bringing gas demand and supply on stream at the same time.
“The task force will also stimulate broader regional demand and infrastructure investments and unlock investment opportunities throughout the region,” he said.