Europe’s scramble for African gas fraught with social and governance risks

As Russian energy flows dwindle in the wake of the Ukraine conflict, European leaders are increasingly turning to resource-rich African states for alternative sources of natural gas.

Italy in April struck fresh deals with Angola and the Republic of the Congo as part of its push to wean itself off Russian imports, on which it was reliant for almost two-thirds of its gas supply. German Chancellor Olaf Schulz has initiated talks with Senegalese authorities around partnering on new gas extraction projects. A recent draft European Union document highlighted Nigeria and Angola for their largely untapped gas potential.

The conflict has clearly pushed energy security to the top of the policy agenda. But it has also highlighted the folly of eschewing ESG concerns in the pursuit of cheap energy. The infographic below highlights the African states with the largest gas reserves, alongside their performance across our composite indices covering democratic governance, labour rights and human security.

The data makes clear that if ESG and political risk considerations are going to play a role in Europe’s long-term energy security, several established and potential African suppliers should warrant fresh scrutiny. Those that take the time to identify red flags relating to human rights and governance risks when sourcing alternatives to Russian energy will be better placed to mitigate future operational and reputational threats.

Jess Middleton

Data Journalist