Africa, Middle East, and South Asia Poised to Lead in Clean Energy Minerals

$400 Billion Investment Forecasted for Critical Minerals by 2030

by Adenike Adeodun

Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia are set to become the frontrunners in the clean energy solid minerals sector as the world accelerates its energy transition efforts.

Wood Mackenzie, a leading global market research body, predicts that by 2030, a staggering $400 billion will be required in capital expenditure for mining, refining, and smelting critical minerals. This investment is deemed essential to close the supply-demand gap and maintain global temperature increases within 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

According to a white paper released at the Future Minerals Forum, these regions will significantly contribute to a successful energy transition. Africa, in particular, despite grappling with widespread electricity access issues, boasts 70% of the world’s platinum reserves and over half of its cobalt and manganese.

Nigeria, traditionally reliant on fossil fuels, is pivoting towards solid minerals for economic resilience, says Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake. “We are blessed with an abundance of green energy potential, and it’s crucial to harness it,” Alake asserts.

This optimism, however, is tempered by concerns over Africa’s role in the global energy transition. Despite its rich mineral reserves, Africa lags in refining, manufacturing, and the technical skills necessary for this shift.

According to a report by The Guardian, Julian Kettle, Senior Vice President of Research at Wood Mackenzie and co-author of the white paper, sees the formation of a mineral superregion as an unprecedented opportunity for collaboration and resource leveraging.

The report outlines four key variables for unlocking this superregion’s potential: resources, capital, demand, and capabilities. It highlights Africa’s dominance in essential minerals for the energy transition, with significant global reserves of cobalt, manganese, graphite, copper, and tin.

Yet, challenges persist. Africa’s underdeveloped financial ecosystem, infrastructure shortcomings, and investment reluctance present significant barriers. These factors underscore the need for strategic partnerships and innovative approaches to tap into this vast potential.

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