AmCham MENA Regional Council Conference: The Race Towards Sustainable Energy 

March 13, 2023


Africa is currently facing two challenges pertaining to climate change: energy security and energy transition, according to Secretary-General of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF), Osama Mubarez. 

“We need to have the right balance between energy transition and security because if we focus on energy security for only the short-term, we’ll have a lot of challenges,” Mubarez said at the 11th AmCham MENA Regional Council Conference “Accelerating Green Investments in the MENA Region: U.S. and Regional Partnerships for Growth” which was hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt in February.

During the event, prominent figures within the sector took to the podium to identify the issues, the takeaways, the viable solutions, and the road forward toward a green economy.

Impact of climate change

Global temperature has risen up to 0.14 degrees over the past few decades, as per a report released by the NOAA, Science & Information For Climate-Smart Nation,, released in January 2023.  The surplus of heat coming as a result of climate change has led to peaks in seasonal temperatures, a significant variation in plant and animal habitats, with regions of land reaching higher temperatures, and the arctic ocean heating up at a higher rate than other areas.  Europe, too, witnessed warmer summers last year, and 2022 was registered as the “sixth-warmest”, with the summers topping the charts in terms of temperature globally since 2010, the report added.

Eying alternatives in emerging markets

Sustainable practices are now, more than ever, a necessity, not just within the region but worldwide. The MENA region is no exception to the climate threat, with an already-evident change in the weather temperatures and more extremes to come, as per a report released by the World Bank in 2018. The report continues to place the region in a situation of imminent threat in terms of its agriculture, livelihood, and food security sectors. 

“We have seen the circumstances of severe weather change, which is an indication of the climate challenge. No one entity alone can do something about it,” Mubarez said.

For emerging markets, renewable energy is no longer an option but a must, according to Samer Judeh, co-founder and chairman of  The Jordan Wind Project Company. He added that green hydrogen is now a viable alternative to be worked with in the region.

The need for renewables has become imperative for both emerging and developed markets. While developed markets have the luxury of subsidizing their activities in terms of decarbonization and carbon footprints, emerging markets do not with the financing for climate being very much dependent on debt, as per the discussions headed by the panelists during the event. 

“There’s another dimension that came into play recently because of the geopolitical events,” explains CEO of Orascom Construction Industries in Egypt (OCI),  Osama Bishai. 

“Conventional sources of energy have been affected by the actions in Ukraine, whether that’s the availability or the price levels. On the MENA region [front], it’s becoming another objective there. It’s not only a matter of decarbonization and limiting carbon footprint because obviously emerging markets do not generate the same level of carbon as the developed world.” 

Moreover, an alternative to fossil fuels has become unavoidable for emerging and developing markets, not only for its environmental benefits but for its cheap cost, clarified Mr.Bishai. While a decade ago that wasn’t the case, emerging markets today are investing in renewable sources. 

Safe transition

Ensuring a transition towards renewable energy while also taking into consideration energy security is regarded as a high priority on the agenda toward a green economy.

“We should be reducing emissions by 45% from now until 2030. Instead, we are adding roughly 14%, so we are deviating from the target by 60%. And there’s no way to do it without talking about the challenges of managing the transitions from heavy dependence on fossil fuels to renewables,” said Mahmoud Mohieldin, the Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund.

During COP27, a summary of the global climate action was discussed. It sought to put in place plans to “mobilize all of society” into action in implementing steps towards climate change, which would help lead the road forward, according to an article released by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on  November 17, 2022. 

“In the world today, we still need to do better on the mitigation front as we know are deviating from the targets,” Mubarez said, citing the United Nations Secretary.