Our Burning Planet


Africa Climate Summit ends with call for action and pledge of $23bn in investment

Africa Climate Summit ends with call for action and pledge of $23bn in investment
Pastoralists from the Turkana community, who are affected by drought, at a march in Nairobi during the opening ceremony on 4 September 2023 of the inaugural Africa Climate Summit at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Daniel Irungu)

The three-day Africa Climate Summit saw global leaders, governments and organisations come together to pave the way forward for Africa’s climate action and development agenda. A declaration was adopted with calls for action that require a reduced debt burden so development is not at the expense of climate action.

The inaugural Africa Climate Summit concluded on Wednesday with the adoption of the Nairobi Declaration, a document that highlighted Africa’s vulnerability to the climate crisis and called for more ambitious and progressive action from the developed world.

Leaders of nations and their governments adopted the declaration, which called on the international community to assist Africa through investment in its decarbonisation agenda.

africa climate summit

Kenyan President William Ruto delivers his closing speech in front of African leaders on day three of the Africa Climate Summit outside the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, on Wednesday, 6 September 2023. (Photo: Fredrik Lerneryd / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

In addition to the declaration, the summit secured $23-billion in investment from various stakeholders. The funds will go towards “green growth, mitigation and adaptation” across Africa. The commitments included a $4.5-billion initiative from the UAE’s COP28 president towards 15GW of clean energy in Africa by 2030.

Read more in Daily Maverick: UAE pledges $4.5bn towards Africa’s clean energy development

The declaration calls on countries to “invite development partners from both the Global South and North to align and coordinate their technical and financial resources directed toward Africa to promote sustainable utilisation of Africa’s natural assets for the continent’s progression toward low carbon development, and contributing to global decarbonisation”.

africa climate summit ramokgopa

Carole Kariuki, chief executive officer of Kenya Private Sector Alliance (left) and Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, South Africa’s energy minister, on a panel on the opening day of the Africa Climate Summit (ACS23) at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, Kenya, on Monday, 4 September 2023. (Photo: Fredrik Lerneryd / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A recent report by Zenizeni Sustainable Finance found that emerging markets and developing economies (excluding China) need $1.3-trillion by 2025 and $3.5-trillion by 2030 to achieve sustainable development and climate goals in areas such as health and education, sustainable infrastructure and energy transition, adaptation and resilience, and sustainable agriculture and biodiversity.

The Nairobi Declaration calls on the continent to:

  • Increase its renewable energy generation capacity from 56GW in 2022 to at least 300GW by 2030;
  • Improve access to technology that will bolster its green industrialisation and transition; and
  • Urge global leaders to propose a global tax regime, including a carbon tax on fossil fuels trade, maritime transport and aviation.

The leaders and governments tabled the issue of multilateral finance reform — raising the concern of borrowing costs for developing countries, for which interest rates were five to eight times higher than those of developed countries. The declaration called for the rates to be slashed by at least 50%, to 2.5-4% by 2025.

A call was also made for improved debt management measures such as extending sovereign debt maturity and a 10-year grace period.

Debt-preventing action

Dean Bhebhe of the Don’t Gas Africa campaign said that unsustainable debt was hindering funding towards public services such as health, education and healthcare.

africa climate summit

Climate activists hold placards and shout slogans at a march dubbed ‘The real Africa Climate Summit People’s March’, held by civil society groups during a demonstration on the streets of Nairobi against the exclusion of civil society in climate talks. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Daniel Irungu)

africa climate summit

Climate activists during a demonstration in Nairobi during the Inaugural opening ceremony of the Africa Climate Summit at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre on 4 September 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Daniel Irungu)

africa climate summit

Climate activists at a demonstration in Nairobi during the Inaugural opening ceremony of the Africa Climate Summit at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre on 4 September 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Daniel Irungu)

“Unsustainable debt levels that many countries face today also mean less fiscal space and [less] to invest in adaptation and mitigation as well as address losses and damages already being experienced,” Bhebhe said.

The declaration noted: “Multilateral finance reform is necessary but not sufficient to provide the scale of climate financing the world needs to achieve the 45 percent emission reduction by 2030 required to meet the Paris Agreement, without which keeping global warming to 1.5% will be in serious jeopardy.

“Further note that the scale of financing required to unlock Africa’s climate-positive growth is beyond the borrowing capacity of national balance sheets, or at the risk premium that Africa is currently paying for private capital.”

Leaders highlighted that the high borrowing costs were the root cause of developing countries’ debt crisis, thus hampering investment in climate action. Cited to support this was a statement from the Paris Summit for a New Global Financing Pact that reads, “No country should ever have to choose between development aspirations and climate action.”

Barbara Creecy, the minister of forestry, fisheries and the environment, said in a panel discussion at the Africa Climate Summit that measures needed to be put in place to ensure that climate finance did not lead to further debt burden for African countries.

“African countries need a new suite of financing instruments, with a set of favourable terms and conditions that are not merely debt generators, or our efforts and actions of mobilising the trillions of dollars required for significantly scaled-up climate action will be actions in futility.

“Local currency lending is an imperative to support climate action in Africa. In this regard, recent efforts by the Green Climate Fund and the New Development Bank offer rays of hope,” Creecy said.

Developed countries committed $100-billion a year towards climate action development in developing countries about 14 years ago. The Nairobi Declaration noted that this commitment had not been met and included a call for developed countries to honour their pledge.

Read more in Daily Maverick: We must ‘plant seeds of change,’ declare activists at Nairobi climate summit

The Nairobi Declaration will serve as the continent’s standpoint ahead of intergovernmental gatherings such as the upcoming G20 Summit in India, the UN General Assembly and the global climate talks COP28 in Dubai in November.

In his closing speech at the summit, Kenyan President William Ruto said: “The declaration we make to the world today defines and amplifies the African position on the way forward in climate action, and the fundamentals that the international community must attend to in order to ensure that humanity’s economic and ecological imperatives are effectively, coherently and sustainably achieved.” DM

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