The world’s yearning for clean energy could find its answer in a surprising alliance: a minerals “Super Region” uniting Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. This bold vision, championed by Wood Mackenzie, proposes pooling the vast mineral resources of these regions – home to critical elements for renewable technologies like cobalt, lithium, and manganese – to become a powerhouse in the energy transition.
Imagine a continent, Africa, boasting 79% of the world’s cobalt reserves, the very backbone of lithium-ion batteries. Imagine the Middle East, rich in lithium and solar energy potential, becoming a renewable energy hub. And picture South Asia, with its substantial manganese deposits, powering the production of steel for wind turbines. Collectively, these regions represent an untapped treasure trove of resources for the clean energy revolution.
“The Super Region concept holds immense potential,” asserts Julian Kettle, Senior Vice President of Research at Wood Mackenzie, co-author of a white paper detailing the vision. “By aligning resources, infrastructure, and expertise, these regions can become leading players in the global energy transition, creating jobs, attracting investments, and driving economic growth.”
The Super Region promises to address the critical resource bottleneck hindering the widespread adoption of renewables. With concentrated mining, processing, and manufacturing capabilities, the Super Region could streamline the supply chain, bringing down costs and accelerating the deployment of sustainable energy technologies.
But the benefits extend beyond economics. By establishing a unified platform for knowledge sharing and collaboration, the Super Region can foster innovation in cleaner mining practices, resource recycling, and responsible waste management. This could ensure the clean energy revolution leaves no one behind, prioritizing environmental sustainability and community development.
Of course, forging a Super Region comes with its own set of challenges. Political barriers, complex legal frameworks, and infrastructure disparities need to be addressed. Building trust and ensuring equitable distribution of benefits across diverse nations will be crucial for long-term success.
“This is not a quick fix,” emphasizes Kettle. “Building the Super Region requires political will, long-term commitment, and collaborative efforts from governments, industries, and local communities. But the potential rewards are significant enough to warrant the investment.”
The Super Region concept offers a ray of hope not just for clean energy, but for regional cooperation and development. By leveraging their shared resources and collective strengths, these three regions have the potential to redefine the energy landscape, rewrite the global economic order, and become a beacon of sustainable progress for the world.