Policy Pillar: Middle East and Africa unlocking export potential

The dynamism behind hydrogen in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region shows no signs of relenting with Gulf states accelerating opportunities and Africa firmly on the clean energy radar.

Much as COP27 shone the spotlight not only on Egypt but the wider region, the UAE will provide a focal point for MEA during its hosting of COP28 between November 30-December 12. No sooner will COP28 run down then Oman’s Green Hydrogen Summit will ramp up (December 12-15), reflecting the levels of activity now underway across all Gulf markets.

It’s not hard to see why. The Middle East is brimming with energy know-how and boasts abundant renewables – not just solar but also wind – and natural gas resources to produce low-carbon hydrogen at among the lowest technical costs in the world, according to a Roland Berger report published in January. More than 80% of all announced projects focus on the production of green hydrogen, with more than 20 projects in Egypt alone.

But there is one caveat. While considerable potential exists for the region to become a hydrogen powerhouse, overarching strategies are thin on the ground (with some exceptions, such as the UAE and Egypt). The report identifies five main barriers which must be overcome to ensure a robust hydrogen economy principally: a lack of strategy and institutional design; inadequate infrastructure; low demand for low-carbon hydrogen; lack of certification and standards; and insufficient human capital and technology.

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