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A new energy for the Africa of today and tomorrow

The energy transition on the African continent depends on biofuels, agreements on new energy sources and alternative forms of production.

New forms of energy and new economies

One of the main challenges for the energy sector in the transition process to a low-carbon future is to ensure access to energy for all in an efficient and sustainable way. According to International Energy Agency (IEA) projections, in the coming years energy demand will continue to grow, particularly in emerging markets and developing economies due to the convergence of several factors, including population increase, increased urbanisation and infrastructure development. The looming threat of climate change and the commitments made by national governments in the Paris Agreement require a strong push forward in the reconversion of industrial processes in specific sectors, such as transport and agriculture, promoting new technologies capable of generating clean energy and creating new job opportunities

With this in mind, at the beginning of 2021, we launched a series of joint initiatives in various countries on the African continent to develop the supply chain for high-quality biofuels based on new circular economy models. These biofuels are produced from raw materials that are not in direct competition with food and fodder crops, such as agricultural residue and non-food crops (e.g. castor and Low-ILUC cover crops1).

The aim is to provide raw material for the Eni bio-refining system in Italy and for the conversion of refineries in Africa, through the creation of agrihubs for the local cultivation of feedstock that does not compete with the food chain, for example castor, and the processing of agricultural residue, such as that deriving from cotton, to replace palm oil in feeding bio-refineries. Kenya is now the lead country in achieving the identified goals: thanks to the advanced development of its agricultural sector and the collection and refining of used cooking oil, it will be able to revolutionise its energy industry, making it efficient and sustainable. 

Eni and IRENA for decarbonization in Africa

The recent agreements signed with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) feature among the various initiatives aimed at promoting the inclusion of renewable energy in the decarbonization pathways of the international agency's member states. The agreement in question provides for the integration of the African continent into the biofuel value chain, including through institutional capacity building, agribusiness and industrial development initiatives for the production of biofuels that will promote decarbonization of the transport sector.

Our commitment is also based on promoting the integration of the African continent into the biofuel value chain through agribusiness and industrial development initiatives, supporting the decarbonization of the transport sector and promoting development opportunities.

Claudio Descalzi, Chief Executive Officer of Eni

The way forward for Kenya

Located on the East coast of Africa, Kenya is one of the most advanced countries in Africa when it comes to its commitment to combatting the effects of climate change. It is a signatory to the Paris Agreement on climate change and intends to reduce its emissions 32% by 2030, while also creating “a globally competitive and prosperous country with a high quality of life," according to its Vision 2030 plan. In December 2020, President Uhuru Kenyatta met with our CEO Claudio Descalzi to discuss how we could contribute to the achievement of the country's environmental commitments, provide local communities with efficient and sustainable access to energy resources, while also reducing its reliance on fossil fuels, which Kenya imports. The meeting led to the government setting up a team ready to work with Eni on every aspect of this strong social impact project. In Kenya we are currently looking at the possibility of converting the Mombasa refinery into a bio-refinery, developing the first plant in Africa capable of producing biofuels. In its initial phase, the Mombasa bio-refinery would be able to produce around 250,000 tonnes of biofuel per year from Low-ILUC vegetable oil and used cooking oil. The conversion of the refinery will make it possible to reduce the commissioning time, as well as the costs associated with new construction, employing around 400 people.

Our initiatives on the African continent

Biofuels play a central role in Eni's commitment to achieving the complete decarbonization of its products and processes by 2050. Thanks to Eni's experience, technology and know-how, it will be possible to launch a series of joint initiatives to develop the biofuels supply chain in various African countries, including Kenya, Congo, Angola, Mozambique and Benin. A further step towards the process of transforming energy resources into possible partnerships that facilitate the energy transition and the development of a real circular economy on the African continent.

Kenya

Some of the key aspects of Eni's work in the country include, in addition to the major conversion of the Mombasa bio-refinery: the development of Kenya's agriculture sector to supply the bio-refinery the collection and refining of used cooking oil; the development of a bioethanol plant and the advancement of international partnerships. In Kenya, we are working to assess the untapped potential of bio-refineries, always with a view to sustainability that does not compete with the country's food chain. It is essential to ensure that food security is respected throughout the process. We aim to promote and safeguard the work of millions of inhabitants engaged in agricultural work on a daily basis, who, through a network of hubs, will collect biomass to feed the bio-refineries, thereby benefiting from an additional source of agricultural income. In the context of UCO collection, one of the goals of the project is to increase awareness of the environmental and health benefits

Côte d'Ivoire

The goal of making Eni's projects in Côte d'Ivoire completely carbon neutral is one of the main aims of Eni’s work in the country, achievable through the use of its knowledge and technology. During the meeting with President Ouattara, discussions were focussed in particular on how Eni can achieve carbon neutrality through the use of renewable energy sources and other initiatives related to decarbonization, such as forestry-related projects and the UN REDD+ programmes. Projects capable of strengthening the country's energy security while protecting primary forests and local biodiversity.

Benin

In Benin, following the meeting with President Patrice Talon, a number of growth projects are being developed for the agro-industrial supply chain. The valorisation of agricultural waste and the production of oilseeds that do not compete with the food chain are the main areas we are working on. We are in the process of defining the role that the country could play due to its high levels of cotton cultivation. Benin is a leader in West Africa in the production of this type of fibre, the by-products of which can be used as feedstock for bio-refineries, promoting a virtuous example of circular economy. With this in mind, in March 2022 we signed a new co-operation agreement with the country's Ministry for Agriculture, Farming and Fisheries to develop Low-ILUC oil crops which will be used to supply our bio-refineries. This agreement will contribute to the development of new industrial models in Benin, ensuring the sustainability of the agro-feedstock procurement chain and providing the country with benefits in terms of employment and the broader economy.

Congo

In Congo, thanks to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding the development of the agro-fuel sector in the country is under way. The MoU in question aims to boost the production of castor oil on an industrial scale. The agreement will provide raw material for Eni's bio-refining systems and job opportunities for local people. After the initial phase, a pilot project to sow castor beans on more than 200 hectares of land, a second phase of industrial development will begin, involving the cultivation of 150,000 hectares with an estimated 90,000 beneficiaries by 2030. Also in Congo, agricultural and gas exploitation projects were discussed in October 2021, including access to energy for the internal market. Indeed, Eni is the only company currently involved in development activities, supplying gas to the Congo Electric Power Station (CEC), which provides 70% of the country's electricity production.

Angola

In Angola we are expanding our areas of cooperation with the country. Through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, development opportunities in the waste collection sector were assessed. The aim is to valorise the organic fraction as much as possible. The relationship between Eni and the local government will enable Angola to increase its LNG production and the availability of domestic gas for the country's industrial development. Other initiatives focus on the role of renewables, agricultural development, access to water, energy, education and healthcare. Not forgetting initiatives on land mine clearance, access to land, diversity and inclusion.

Mozambico

In February 2022 we signed with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Republic of Mozambique (MADER) an agreement for the cooperation and development of agricultural projects in Mozambique, aimed at producing oil seeds and vegetable oils to be used as agro-feedstock for the production of biofuels. Under the agreement, Eni and MADER will assess potential sites and the most appropriate crops, focusing on areas that would not compete with food production and taking into consideration the preservation of forests and natural ecosystems. Other initiatives include the collection and valorisation of agricultural and agro-processing residues, by-products and co-products, for production of biofeedstock and Natural Climate Solutions (NCS). The agreement builds on the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2019 by Eni and the Government of Mozambique for the joint definition of sustainable development and decarbonisation projects to support the country’s National and Local Economic and Social Development Agenda. Also, it is in line with Eni´s commitments to accelerate the energy transition in fossil fuel producing countries.

1Indirect Land-Use Change (ILUC) is the displacement of agricultural production into areas with high carbon stock (such as forests, wetlands and peatlands), driven by the growing demand for raw materials. Low-ILUC biofuels are produced in a way that mitigates the emissions caused by land use change, avoiding competition with land dedicated to food production or natural environments.

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