In the 2020 EU ‘Hydrogen Strategy’ the European Commission formally identified renewable hydrogen as a key tool to decarbonise the European energy system and other hard to abate sectors. Since then, targets for a scale up in the production and application of this energy vector have been increased in scope and accelerated in urgency as the EU hurriedly looks to break away from Russian fossil fuel dependency, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. This paper looks at the opportunities for renewable hydrogen development in African countries, as potential alternative mid to long-term trading partners for renewable energy commodities and their derivative products. Some examples of existing and planned projects and supporting tools are outlined to indicate the state of play, as well as case studies from other sectors that could offer learnings here. Four central policy recommendations are offered: firstly, (i) foreign direct investment (FDI) should be de-risked through offtake mechanisms and public-private partnerships, (ii) flagship projects should lead the way, (iii) large parts of the value chain should remain in Africa, (iv) wider ‘democratisation’ and accessibility of the sector should be encouraged.
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