Africa ‘punished’ by investment clamp on fossils: Niger’s president

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Niger, the poorest country in the world, says Africa has been “punished” by decisions by western countries to end public financing for foreign fossil-fuel projects by the end of 2022.

The Group of Seven (G7) industrialized democracies on May 27 pledged to phase out “new direct public support” for new investment in foreign oil, gas and coal projects by year’s end.

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The ban applies to schemes that are “unabated,” meaning if they fail to take steps to ease or capture carbon pollution.

A similar declaration was signed in November last year by 20 countries at the COP26 UN climate parlay in Glasgow, a move expanding a ban that several had already imposed on financing for coal.

Niger’s president, Mohamed Bazoum, on Tuesday told a business forum in the Ivorian city of Abidjan that “We are going to continue to fight, we have fossil fuels that should be exploited.”

“At one point, companies had plans to mine Niger’s coal. But with these measures, no banks are willing to commit – we are being punished,” he said.

He made the remarks at the Africa CEO Forum, a two-day conference gathering around 1,500 African business executives and politicians.

Niger is the least developed country in the world, according to the 189-nation Human Development Index (HDI) compiled by the UN.

Senegalese President Macky Sall, in his remarks to the conference, supported Bazoum.

“Let the African continent be allowed to exploit its natural resources!” he exclaimed.

“It is frankly unbelievable that those who have been exploiting oil and its derivatives for more than a century prevent African countries from reaping the value of their resources.”

Sall said he hoped that COP27, running in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh from November 6-18, would open the way to a “balanced agreement which takes Africa’s reality into account.”

Sall also said that African countries were being hit by western-led payment restrictions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

“Africa should be able to obtain a mechanism from all its partners, especially the west – a mechanism such as Europe uses (to buy) Russian gas – which enables us to continue to import fertilizer and wheat from Russia without payment difficulties,” he said.

“If we don’t have fertilizer for our locally-grown grain, which is important in our diet, we will face a genuine risk of famine,” he said, describing Africa as a “collateral victim” of the conflict.

Russia’s invasion has choked off grain exports from Ukraine, one of the world’s bread baskets, forcing up the cost of wheat. The two countries together account for around 30 percent of the global trade in wheat.

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