On February 18, the Nigerian presidency announced the launch of the G4, which will bring together Nigeria, Algeria, Ethiopia and South Africa. On what issues will this new African influence grouping focus?
“A hard anti-Moroccan core within the African Union”. This is how the Moroccan magazine Médias24 presents the G4, the new diplomatic grouping which will bring together Algeria, Nigeria, South Africa and Ethiopia. The idea would have germinated on the sidelines of the last Europe-Africa summit. This G4 will be, according to the initiators of the project, a "platform to find solutions to the challenges of the continent".
To say that it is an anti-Moroccan core — in reference to the African Union (AU) countries opposed to Israel's observer status and recognizing the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) — seems at first glance somewhat simplistic. The four countries forming the G4 indeed share much more than common positions on issues of interest to Morocco.
According to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, the G4 notably shares “the same vision of security in Mali and Libya”. A summit will be held between the four heads of state of the G4 in the coming months. Without a date having, for the moment, been stopped.
The G4 wants to see far
If several media have expressed their doubts as to the relevance of this new front, pitting the G4 against other African powers such as Morocco and Egypt, however, this new group of African countries includes more than a third of the continent's population. And despite the problems that each G4 country faces, economically or diplomatically, the quartet can have the ambition to become an African superpower. All the more so when we know the current difficulties of historical organizations, which bind countries according to their geographical positions.
However, we will have to wait for the first G4 summit to find out a little more about its priorities. If diplomacy and security are on the agenda, the potential issues are numerous: ecology, energy, finances...
However, the G4 was created in particular circumstances. Between the race for "financial aid" which has started between the United States, Europe and China, as well as the current fragile African economic context, it is possible that the priorities of the G4 will be decided according to current events.
The G4 countries, with the possible exception of Nigeria, have another thing in common: they have strained relations with the West. An essential element because, if the G4 were to maneuver on a continental scale, it would inevitably have to come up against Western influence on the African Union (AU), as well as foreign pressures which each reign over their square meadows.
The Nigeria-Algeria gas pipeline, a real challenge
The G4 could however agree on a more consensual theme: the energy crisis. Indeed, each G4 country has something to contribute in the field of hydrocarbon production. Even Ethiopia, which produces very little, is affected by its proximity to the Arab Gulf countries, its friendship with Russia and its geographical position, Addis Ababa hosting the headquarters of the African Union.
But it is above all Algeria, Africa's leading gas producer, and Nigeria, the leading oil producer, who intend to pool their efforts. A meeting between Nigerian Oil Minister Timipre Sylva and his Algerian counterpart Mohamed Arkab in early February led to the announcement of the creation of a gas pipeline between Nigeria and Algeria.
Timipre Sylva said he wanted to build “a trans-Saharan gas pipeline, which will transport our gas to Algeria, then to Europe”.
At the same time, a project to improve the Medgaz gas pipeline, which links Algeria to Europe, is being studied… in South Africa. It is the director of DLO Energy Resources Group, Linda Mabhena-Olagunju, who would be at the top of the list of potential partners of Algiers for the extension of Medgaz.
But in addition to the gas networking of the G4 countries, the real challenge for the four countries of the emerging bloc lies with their African neighbours. Countries whose heads of state are beginning to consider a pan-African solution to the current gas crisis.
An African gas power that could expand across the continent
Among these countries, Tanzania. With the sixth largest gas reserves in Africa - 1,6 billion cubic meters - the state is beginning to reconsider the exploitation of its resources by Shell. Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan says she wants to work “with European companies. But whether in Europe, America or Africa, we continue to look for markets”.
And the Tanzanian Head of State continued: “The war in Ukraine could prove to be an opportunity for gas sales, for African countries”.
A Nigeria-Algeria gas pipeline could also be of interest to Angola. Luanda holds about 380 million cubic meters of reserves. But, above all, Angola enjoys a production surplus amounting to 11% of its annual production. The country's problem today is to transport its gas to importing countries.
In this regard, Angola relies on maritime transport. However, between the security threats in the Gulf of Guinea and the cost of transport, the margin of the Angolan State is very small.
Gas pipelines also present a considerable axis of diplomatic influence. In North Africa, Algeria exercises it, via its gas pipelines crossing Morocco, Tunisia, Spain and Italy. Nigeria is no doubt seeking to exert the same influence by proposing that the Algerian gas pipeline cross Niger.