NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Africa must swiftly harness its rich mineral and natural resources to drive a clean energy revolution and accelerate sustainable development amidst the current climate crisis, the Acting Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Antonio Pedro, has urged.
“Africa is a solutions powerhouse for saving the climate, Mr. Antonio Pedro, said at the opening of the 11th Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA) in Nairobi, Kenya, ahead of the inaugural Africa Climate Summit to take place from 4-6 September themed: Driving Green Growth & Climate Finance Solutions for Africa and the World.
Mr. Pedro pointed out that Africa has abundant renewable energy resources, including 40% of the world’s solar irradiation potential, making it a great location for advancing green hydrogen.
Already, multiple low-carbon hydrogen projects are in development in Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, and South Africa. Africa is also rich in cobalt, manganese, platinum, lithium, and copper – critical minerals for producing batteries and other green transition products.
The drive toward achieving net-zero emissions is expected to trigger a 40-fold increase in lithium demand and a 25-fold increase in cobalt demand. Furthermore, Africa is home to rich natural capital, such as the Congo Basin which contains some of the largest tropical rainforests in the world.
Mr. Pedro said that using nature-based sequestration alone, African countries could provide up to 30% of the world’s sequestration needs. A key challenge, however, was in “effectively and sustainably harnessing Africa’s abundant resources for the benefit of its people.”
“To mobilize the necessary funding, a paradigm shift is necessary,” said Mr. Pedro, emphasizing that Africa’s renewable and non-renewable resources were assets for mobilizing climate finance and investment.
“The ecological services provided by Africa to the world need to be monetised through carbon markets and other innovative instruments including debt-for-climate swaps,” he added.
Studies show that African countries could mobilize up to US$82 billion annually by participating in well-functioning carbon markets. Besides, more income could be generated from value chains around non-renewable resources such as critical minerals crucial for battery production.
“Our renewable and non-renewable resources must be harnessed to secure the continent’s human, energy, food, mineral, environmental and climate security, meeting basic needs and fostering sustainable structural transformation,” Mr. Pedro urged.
For her part, Soipan Tuya, Kenya Minister of Environment and Forestry noted that Africa’s sustainable development hinged on the successful adaptation and mitigation of climate change impacts because the continent’s growth depends heavily on climate sensitive sectors and natural resources.
She stressed, in her opening remarks that Africa was capable of overcoming climate change challenges and turning them into development opportunities through innovation, clean technologies and a paradigm shift that unlocks Africa’s huge natural resource and human potential.
“Harnessing these rich enormous resources, however, requires mobilization of financial resources from both domestic and international sources to enable Africa tackle climate change and facilitate the option for clean and low carbon development pathways,” she said.
Africa is bearing the brunt of climate change more, despite contributing the least to it. Increased droughts, intensive tropical cyclones, high temperatures and extensive floods have affected lives and livelihoods across Africa, limiting the continent’s ability to achieve sustainable development.
Huge financing gap
Estimates indicate that, by 2030, Africa could spend 5% of its annual GDP on climate crises based on a warming scenario of 2 degrees, with the Sahel region paying as much as 15%.
The African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change estimates that Africa will require between US$65 and US$86.5 billion annually for adaptation alone up to 2030. Currently, the continent receives a mere $11.4 billion in adaptation financing per year.
Present at the opening were high-level representatives from key institutions including Josefa Correia Sacko, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy, and Sustainable Environment (ARBE) at the African Union Commission; Anthony Nyong, Director for Climate Change and Green Growth at the African Development Bank; and Mwenda Mithika, Executive Director, Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) made remarks.