CAPE TOWN, Nov. 5 (Xinhua) -- South African Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe on Tuesday called for greater efforts to develop Africa's energy infrastructure.
"Agenda 2063 of the African Union enjoins us to develop Africa's energy infrastructure, where all our countries are connected," Mantashe said while addressing delegates on the opening day of Africa Oil Week in Cape Town.
African oil and gas must be harnessed to deliver energy services to all households and businesses, Mantashe said.
"Our gas must power plants and other petrochemical facilities in our countries as it reaches for export markets," he said. "This will ensure that we do not always import beneficiated hydrocarbons."
Matashe said Africa's energy resources are rich and remain to be tapped, citing recent major gas discoveries in Mozambique and Tanzania.
"We remain ready to contribute to the development of these recent finds," he said.
Mantashe also mention the hydrocarbon discovery off South Africa's south eastern coast earlier this year.
"We are confident that this find will spur further interest in the upstream potential of South Africa," he said.
Africa remains the most energy-deficient continent globally with more than 500 million Africans lacking access to modern forms of energy and affliction by indoor pollution and environmental degradation, according to Mantashe.
He disclosed that South Africa intends to establish the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) hub in the Coega Industrial Development Zone in the Eastern Cape province.
Mantashe said the framework for supporting the gas to power program would be announced by his department in the near term and linked to this would be an amendment to the Gas Act of 2001, to be tabled in cabinet soon.
On the upstream, work is under way on a Petroleum Resources Development Bill, which will also be before the cabinet soon, he said.
"Gas to power technologies will provide the flexibility required to complement intermittent renewable energy and meet demand during peaking hours," Mantashe said.
The minister urged investors to invest in and help develop South Africa's gas industry.
While in the short term the opportunity is to pursue gas import options, local and regional gas resources will allow for scaling up within manageable risk levels, said Mantashe.
"Indigenous gas like coal-bed methane and, ultimately, recoverable shale and coastal gas are options we are considering," he added.
Africa Oil Week is the leading business intelligence and transactional platform for Africa's oil and gas sector. Decision-makers attending this year's event are expected to set out the future direction of the continent's energy trajectory.