Brussels Attempts to Fool Africans into “Green Hydrogen” Scam

The EU-African Union summit in Brussels Feb. 17-18 ended with an attempt by Brussels to sell Africa a scheme to produce so-called “green hydrogen” for Europe in the framework of the “Global Gateway”, the European Union’s purported alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. At the final press conference, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen set the target of “ending climate change” (will somebody switch off the sun?) for which purpose “the world needs Africa”.

In order to reach its de-carbonization goals, the EU plans to import hydrogen from the African continent. As laid out in its 2020 Hydrogen Strategy, the Commission foresees 40GW of renewable hydrogen electrolysers in the EU neighborhood by 2030, a large proportion of which is expected to be in North Africa.

Installing those 40 GW of electrolysers would require 77GW of renewable energy capacity, the EU claims. The additional capacity would exclusively serve EU needs, although 600 million people in Africa have no access to electricity at all. Colonization, anyone?

The “green hydrogen” scheme was developed by the Club of Rome, whose German office had come up with the idea of paving the Sahara with solar panels to produce electricity for Europe. That idea became the Desertec Industrial Initiative (Dii) in 2009, which eventually launched the Mena Hydrogen Alliance at the beginning of 2020 to help develop energy projects in the Middle East and North Africa designed to produce hydrogen for export.

As the first package of Global Gateway, Ursula von der Leyen has promised €150 billion of investments in the next seven years for Africa. In reality, only 36.8 bn come from the EU budget and 20 bn from member states pledges, while the rest is guarantees for private investments. So, most of the money will be private loans, attached to the condition that the money must be invested in “green transition” projects.

She said the money would go “to catalyse investments in three categories. The first, of course, is infrastructure. And there, the top priority is… the transition towards renewable energy. Because we all know firsthand that sustained economic development hinges on reliable access to energy. Africa has solar, wind and hydropower in abundance. So let us build on that. Let us invest in Global Gateway projects, for example to build together green hydrogen capacity.”

Some African countries might fall into the trap of this new version of the Conquistadores’ practice of trading costume jewelry for gold, but many will not give up the development of their gas and oil fields, as Senegal President and rotating OAU chairman Macky Sall told von der Leyen publicly on Feb. 10 (cf. SAS 7/22).

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