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EU to invest $324B in African clean jet fuel projects



The European Union (EU) is currently looking into ways to help fund clean jet fuel projects in Africa through its Global Gateway infrastructure fund. They’re doing this because they expect there to be a significant increase in the need for eco-friendly air travel options.

As part of their plan, the EU has decided to dedicate half of their €300 billion ($324 billion) infrastructure budget to projects in Africa. This move is aimed at establishing a strong presence in Africa and is seen as a potential competitor to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

According to Reuters, the Global Gateway fund has already provided support to various projects in Africa, including renewable energy facilities, green hydrogen initiatives, vaccines, and education programs. Now, the focus is shifting towards sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

Stefan De Keersmaecker, a European Commission spokesperson, stated,

  • “In the context of the Global Gateway, the Commission is currently exploring potential co-financing mechanisms and guarantee instruments. SAF production in the African continent has significant potential.”

SAFs represent low-carbon fuel alternatives for the aviation sector and can be derived from various sources, including crops.

To facilitate the development of SAF in Africa, the EU plans to launch a €4 million capacity-building project by December 31.

This project will support SAF feasibility studies and certification efforts in 11 African countries as well as India.

Why is the EU interested in Africa?

The aviation industry is responsible for over 2% of global energy-related emissions.

To address this, the EU is implementing emissions reduction targets that will necessitate greater use of SAF by airlines.

This commitment is expected to drive global demand for SAF to reach 450 billion litres annually by 2050, according to the International Air Transport Association.

This demand, coupled with Africa’s extensive untapped agricultural land, is making the continent an attractive destination for SAF projects.

It is important to note that there is currently no SAF production on the African continent. Establishing reliable feedstock supply chains presents challenges in Africa due to issues such as poor infrastructure, limited refining capacity, and inadequate regulations, all of which could potentially delay projects and increase costs.

Allan Kilavuka, CEO of Kenya Airways, emphasized, “The most effective way to reduce the cost of SAF in Africa and ensure sustainable production is through local manufacturing.”

Despite these challenges, companies such as Italy’s Eni, South Africa’s Sasol, Germany’s Linde, and Denmark’s Topsoe are pressing ahead with investments in African SAF and biofuels.

Franklin Omondi, environmental manager at the African Civil Aviation Commission, expressed the organization’s ambition to launch SAF production in at least two African countries within a few years, with the possibility of a third. South Africa, Kenya, and Ethiopia are among the likely candidates for these endeavours.