Mauritania’s quest for green hydrogen financing will be the focus of the upcoming MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power conference – scheduled for November 21-22 in Nouakchott, Mauritania. The conference will connect stakeholders, providing a platform for deals to be signed and investment secured.

The Mauritanian government has placed green hydrogen as a strategic development opportunity under efforts to position the country as a global hydrogen hub. However, to achieve this objective, significant investments are required.

Moustapha Bechir, Director General of Hydrocarbons at Mauritania’s Ministry of Petroleum, Energy and Mines, stated in an exclusive interview with Energy Capital & Power (ECP) that, “With its sunshine, year-round winds and extensive coastline, Mauritania has the potential to become a leading green hydrogen producer in the region and the world.”

However, challenges associated with lack of investment and infrastructure have largely restricted industry growth.

According to a McKinsey analysis, meeting the green hydrogen goals of top African countries will require up to $55 billion in investment by 2030 and $900 billion by 2050.

The main infrastructure challenges in the MSGBC nation, according to Isselmou Lehbib, Director of the Port of Ndiago in Mauritania, are a lack of roads connecting ports to the rest of the nation; an absence of power; and a shortage of pipelines.

“The main projects, like Nour or Aman, are located northeast of Nouakchott, in the middle of the desert, near the mining region, and we need to unlock these areas,” Lehbib said in an interview with ECP. As such, Mauritania is pursuing a range of financing mechanisms to grow its green hydrogen market.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank have emerged as top advocates for Mauritania’s green hydrogen initiatives. The AfDB is supporting Mauritania in areas such as legal frameworks, local procurement requirements and green hydrogen knowledge transfer, while the World Bank has released the country’s Roadmap for Low-Carbon Hydrogen Development, providing support through policy advise and frameworks.

Loana Billieux, World Bank Communications Associate for Western and Central Africa, agrees that large investments are needed in Mauritania to unleash the potential of green hydrogen. “Mauritania has significant potential in hydrogen production through gas reforming and renewable energy-powered electrolysis,” she explained to ECP, “But the sector requires substantial investments and impact management throughout the value chain.”

Support from these multinational development finance institutions is not enough, and as such, Mauritania is looking towards the private sector to fund projects. The government signed an agreement with Britain’s bp for the evaluation of the technical and commercial feasibility of green hydrogen.

Additionally, companies such as Conjuncta, CWP Global, Total Eren and Chariot are spearheading projects. These developments barely scratch the surface of the country’s green hydrogen potential, and the government is inviting new private players to join the market.

Mauritania has also turned to its regional neighbors to finance the green hydrogen market. Abdessalam Ould Mohamed Saleh, Mauritania’s Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, is touring the world to meet with and encourage possible state investors.

Last June, he proposed that Belgium serve as the first entry point for Mauritanian green hydrogen in Europe. He put forward a bilateral memorandum of understanding for European authorities to consider.

Saleh also met with Wung Wentao, China’s Minister of Economic Cooperation and Trade, to discuss bilateral investment and cooperation opportunities, notably in the field of green hydrogen. China intends to put 50,000 hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles on the road by 2025, as well as establish a number of hydrogen-recharging stations, making it a viable market for Mauritanian green hydrogen.

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