The African continent holds an impressive natural gas resource base, providing a resource to fuel decarbonizing economies globally, as well as domestic industries. While some African nations, such as Equatorial Guinea, Algeria and Egypt, have successfully extended the natural gas value chain, most others are yet to fully realize the benefits of the resource.
Gas pipeline projects bridge the gap between gas rich countries and gas deficient countries, allowing the utilization of the resource continent-wide. Several cross-border pipeline projects have been proposed, adding to some already operational networks.
The West African Gas Pipeline (operational)
The West African Gas Pipeline Project (WAGP) is a natural gas pipeline linking Nigeria’s Escravos region of the Niger Delta with Benin, Togo and Ghana. Developed by the West African Gas Pipeline Company Limited – a consortium of Chevron, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Royal Dutch Shell, Volta River Authority, Société Togolaise de Gaz, and Société Beninoise de Gaz – the 678 km pipeline has a capacity of 5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year. The WAGP connects the western region of Africa, providing a viable natural gas supply to all participating countries. With a possible extension to Côte d’Ivoire, the project demonstrates the success of regional cooperation in the utilization of natural gas.
The Republic of Mozambique Pipeline Company Project (operational)
The Republic of Mozambique Pipeline Company (ROMPCO) is the commercial operator of an 865 km high-pressure gas pipeline connecting the onshore gas fields in Pande and Temane in Mozambique with Sasol’s operations in South Africa. Operating since 2004, the pipeline has provided a direct connection between the two countries and has ensured the effective monetization of Mozambique’s previously stranded resources.
The African Renaissance Pipeline Project (planned)
The African Renaissance Pipeline Project (ARP), a proposed $6 billion natural gas pipeline that aims to link Mozambique’s gas-rich Rovuma basin to Springs in Gauteng, South Africa, will connect an abundant resource with an increasing number of customers in the wider region. Extending 2,600 km and with an annual capacity of 18 billion cubic meters (bcm) – equivalent to 13.2 tons of LNG – the ARP will enable both Mozambique and South Africa to increase access to fuel for industry and power generation, while reducing reliance on other fossil fuels. Scheduled for completion in 2025 for the Mozambican segment of the pipeline and 2026 for the South African segment, the ARP is expected to boost southern Africa’s competitiveness through job creation and economic revitalization.
The Tanzania-Uganda Natural Gas Pipeline
The Tanzania-Uganda Natural Gas Pipeline Project is a proposed natural gas pipeline transporting LNG from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to Kampala, Uganda. The 1,800 km pipeline will connect Tanzania’s abundant gas reserves with Uganda’s growing steel industry, generating economic growth through industrialization. The project is expected to commence operations in 2026.
The Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano Natural Gas Pipeline
The Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano Natural Gas Pipeline (AKKP), part of the Trans Nigeria Pipeline Project, is a planned natural gas pipeline that will transport natural gas from Ajaokuta in Kogi State to Kano, in Kano State, Nigeria. The 614 km pipeline is intended to establish a connection between pipeline networks in the various regions of the country and to the wider region through the Trans Nigeria Pipeline Project. The estimated cost of the project is $2.8 billion and construction commenced in July 2020
The Trans-Sahara Gas Pipeline Project
The Trans-Sahara Gas Pipeline Project (TSGP) is a proposed 4,400 km natural gas pipeline that aims to connect Nigeria’s resources to Hassi R’Mel in Algeria, linking to a wider regional network of pipelines including the Trans Nigeria Gas Pipeline, the Maghreb-Europe Gas Pipeline and the Medgas Gas Pipeline. The $21 billion TSGP was officially launched in 2001 with a Memorandum of Understanding between Nigeria and Algeria and is expected to have an annual capacity of 30 bcm. Despite delays over the last decade, the TSGP re-emerged in planning documents in 2019, when the Trans Nigeria Gas Pipeline advanced into developmental phases.
One of the key challenges for cross-border pipeline development involves the securing of adequate funding as the high-costs of such infrastructural developments often prevents project take-off. Therefore, the integration of public and private sector financing will prove important to the success of intra-African pipeline projects. Additionally, intra-African projects rely on cooperation between multiple nations in which policy, legal and sectoral differences may cause challenges. Political will and regional regulatory alignment are essential to the realization of Africa’s regional gas pipelines.