Climate Change: Africa’s Voice Must Be Heard

Published on 8th December 2015

Africa suffers more from the scotching heat from rising temperatures. Droughts are now more frequent and with greater intensity more than ever before. Lake Chad is disappearing fast, throwing the livelihoods of millions of people into disarray and triggering increased fragility. Africa is no longer the same. The degradation of the environment has led to displacement of population - and we all witness today the rising wave of migrants into Europe.

Our sons and daughters are fleeing Africa. This is not acceptable. The heat and floods are too much, the conflicts over limited water resources are bursting communities –and if care is not taken, there may be future water wars in Africa. We can change all this by simply recognizing that Africa needs help – and that help must come very quickly.

A more climate resilient Africa, with resources to support climate mitigation and adaptation will be a more stable Africa, with peace, prosperity and jobs for our youths. Africa has been short changed by Climate Change – but Africa must not be short changed by Climate Finance. COP 21 can only be considered successful if it meets the needs of Africa. That is why the African Development Bank (AfDB) will triple its climate finance to USD $5 billion every year till 2020 – which will account for approximately 40% of our total portfolio.

Africa needs massive financing for climate adaptation and mitigation. The voice of Africa is also strong on electricity: Africa is tired of being in the dark. Today, over 640 million Africans do not have access to electricity. Africa is known more for the darkness of its cities and rural areas. Over 700 million Africans do not have access to clean cooking energy and rely on charcoal, fuel wood and kerosene. Over 600,000 women and children die every year from dangerous fumes from indoor pollution.

Africa’s per capita energy consumption averages only 162 KWh compared to the global average of 7,000 KWh. And Africa loses 3-4% of its GDP due to lack of energy. Lack of electricity has put the brakes on Africa’s industrialization. This is not acceptable. Yet, Africa has massive potentials for renewable energy. Our sunshine should do more than nourish our crops, it must light up our homes. Our massive water resources should do more than water our farms, they must power our industries. Potential is important, but homes and industries cannot be powered by potential. Africa must unlock its renewable energy potentials. As we do, we will also renew Africa and turn it into a place full of light – what a new dawn that will be!

This is why the development of the Africa Energy Renewable Energy Initiative is a game changer for solving Africa’s energy challenge. The success of the Africa Renewable Initiative will be seen on the ground not on pages of papers. The initiative will deliver 300, 000 MW of renewable energy to Africa by 2030. I believe that this can even be achieved much earlier, if we raise the level of our collective ambition. We must not have low ambitions for Africa. That is why the African Development Bank has launched the New Deal on Energy for Africa to accelerate universal access to electricity in Africa by 2025.

The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative will be one of the key deliverables in our collective drive to light up and power Africa. The AfDB will also: (a) invest USD $12 billon in energy in the next five years, and leverage USD $40 - $50 billion to the energy sector; (b) launch the “Bottom of the Pyramid Energy Financing Facility” which will provide 700 million Africans with access to clean cooking energy in 5 years; and (c) launch an “Affirmative Finance Action for Women” with USD $300 million to leverage USD $3 billion for women and women owned businesses. We will support modern agriculture. We want women on tractors not using hand-held hoes.

The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative must now be strongly supported. Its successful launch is a key outcome of COP 21 in Paris – and now we must take it on the road outside Paris, to all of Africa. Let us rise up and deliver that hope for millions of Africans without electricity and clean cooking energy. Like the butterfly we must fly out to light up and power Africa.

By Akinwumi A. Adesina

President, African Development Bank.

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