Untapped expertise in Southern Africa should benefit from the opportunities provided by the exploitation of the large liquefied natural gas (LNG) reserves discovered off the coast of northern Mozambique, says engineering, procurement and construction company Lesedi Nuclear Services project development manager Greg Nichollas.
Sustainable and robust access to these alternative sources of fuel will have a substantial positive effect on economies in the Southern African Development Community region.
The LNG can be used as an alternative source of fuel for power generation, while LNG power plants can be constructed in relatively short time, serving as a stable baseload alternative to coal fired power generation in short periods of time.
An established and robust power generation infrastructure is one of the pillars of a strong, industrialised economy, which will, in turn, generate new jobs, boost employment and grow economies.
However, there is also the opportunity for this LNG to be used directly as an alternative to other fossil fuels in industry. Making it easily and readily available to all, at competitive prices, will provide alternative energy options for industry as whole.
Just as importantly though, it will also provide opportunities for new industrial sectors, including new manufacturing, that can benefit from efficient and cost-effective energy availability, to be set up in Southern Africa, says Nichollas.
Strong and rich economies are those that directly beneficiate raw materials into high value goods. This is where Southern Africa can compete if it has cost-effective energy to support the manufacturing sector, notes Nichollas.
Governments need to play their part, though, and facilitate the immediate development and construction of the necessary infrastructure to support the importation of LNG.
In South Africa, in particular, there is a need for upgraded and extended pipeline infrastructure from the resource location, as well as LNG import terminals at all of the major South African ports. Government needs to actively facilitate implementation of this infrastructure by removing red tape, addressing monopolies and passing on the development and construction of this vital infrastructure to the private sector.
Southern Africa’s engineering skills are ready for the opportunity to design and build this infrastructure and the construction sector as a whole is in urgent need of these megaprojects to ensure regional economic stimulus.