Oil Industry in Africa: Seeking to Increase Refining Capacity and Reduce Dependency on Imports

How Much Oil is Produced in Africa

The oil industry is a vital source of revenue for many African countries. However, the continent’s crude oil is mostly sent overseas to be refined and then re-exported.

With prices on the world market rising, several African states are seeking to increase their refining capacity and cut their dependency on imported petroleum products. Here are 10 countries that have the most oil.


The African country is a major oil producer, but it spends enormous sums importing refined fuel because it lacks a refinery. In 2022, Angola spent $4 billion on crude oil imports. The government and Sonangol are working to change that, building three new refineries with capacity to produce diesel, jet fuel and lubricants, reducing dependence on petroleum imports.

The country also has extensive natural gas resources, and a new LNG project is under way in Cabinda, near the border with Namibia. However, most of the nation’s natural gas is re-injected into oil fields or flared to boost recovery. Activists say the wealth resulting from the industry bypasses ordinary Angolans. Splashy new boardwalks in the capital Luanda and a flood of luxury properties are all signs of oil money, but ramshackle slums and endemic poverty persist.


Nigeria is a major oil producer in Africa. Its daily crude production averaged 1.5 million barrels per day in 2022. Oil revenues account for the majority of the country’s foreign exchange earnings.

As the price of oil rises, many African countries are starting to look for ways to reduce their dependence on the fuel. One option is to increase investments in renewable energy.

But there are some problems with this approach. Many of these investments are financed with oil money. And the companies that make them often argue that their role is simply to get the oil out of the ground and maximize profits. They say it is up to politicians to invest the taxes into education and infrastructure. That’s not enough. Nigeria needs to diversify its economy.


The Republic of Congo (French: Republique du Congo) is the fourth-largest crude oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa. Oil accounts for nearly 80% of its export revenues. It has one oil refinery in the coastal city of Pointe-Noire, operated by Coraf. The country is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Development experts argue that oil-importing African countries should seek ways to reduce their dependence on oil by investing in alternative energy sources. Some have large natural gas reserves, and a number have rivers and waterfalls that can be harnessed for hydro-electric power. Many are also in a good position to dedicate land to biofuel crops. But reducing dependency on fossil fuels will require political commitment and access to domestic and foreign investment capital.


As oil prices rise globally, many African countries are looking to reduce dependence on the fossil fuel. But, as with any energy source, a successful transition will require political commitment and favourable markets.

Kenya plays a critical transit role in East Africa, with most of its petroleum product imports arriving via the Mombasa port. In addition, it is developing a pipeline system to bring oil inland for distribution to arid areas.

Tullow Plc discovered commercial oil in the Lokichar Basin of Turkana Region in 2012. The news sent stocks soaring and politicians gushing, but Kenya still has to develop a road from Lokichar to the port of Lamu and build the required infrastructure for large scale production. The development process could take years, and the results are expected to be the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.


Despite the soaring price of crude, African oil-importing nations remain committed to expanding their consumption in coming years. However, many development experts argue that they should try to reduce their dependence on oil by seeking alternative energy sources, which are cleaner and less polluting than fossil fuels that must be burned to generate electricity.

Some African countries have natural gas deposits, while others have rivers or waterfalls suitable for hydro-electric power and many have ample sunlight to encourage solar and wind power. Almost all have fertile land that could be used to grow biofuel crops. Even if such alternatives are expensive, their costs will eventually come down as demand rises. In the meantime, China and other energy-hungry economies are stepping up their investments in Africa.

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