African experts met last March 3-5 in Kigali, Rwanda, to discuss climate impact on the continent. This was a part of the eighth session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD-8).
During their session, the experts expressed the need for increased financing to help the continent adapt to climate change and reach carbon neutrality. Vera Songwe, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of UNECA called on the international community to fulfill their commitments “especially concerning the means of implementation and the global consensus on carbon pricing, to reward Africa as a custodian of global climate goods, such as the carbon stored in the Congo Basin forest and its peatlands.”
Jean-Paul Adam, another ECA expert, says special attention should be paid to small island states. “It is often difficult for low-income countries to access resources. They have to borrow at high costs and accept frameworks that are not necessarily adapted to their needs. There is hardly any country in the world that is as vulnerable to climate change as small island states,” he noted.
Africa is presented as the region of the world that will be the most vulnerable, but also the most unfairly hit by the consequences of global warming. Although the continent only contributes to 4% of greenhouse gas emissions (mainly CO2) and absorbs a significant portion of carbon dioxide emitted into nature through its rainforest.
Africa is also a reservoir of resources that will allow a transition to greener energy. It has deposits of liquefied natural gas which is seen as the transitional energy resource towards net zero. The continent’s subsoil is rich in minerals such as lithium or cobalt, which are associated with the development of digital equipment, essential for non-polluting economies. Finally, Africa has one of the largest solar exposures in the world, as well as hydrogen and wind energy exploitation points.
However, despite this potential, coupled with a young population, and a common market under construction, the continent is struggling to raise the resources necessary to become the leader in renewable energy. Experts believe it needs to build a productive system that will allow it to no longer depend on the outside world. Responding to climate change is becoming a survival issue. If Africa is not able to act effectively in this direction, its economy will continue to lose out in terms of value creation. On the other hand, there are opportunities for economic gains.
According to the 2020 report on sustainable development in Africa, the implementation of functional policies for sustainable development goals could create a market of $12,000 billion, and create more than 380 million jobs, by 2030. But for this to happen, resources must be mobilized.