Our Burning Planet


UAE pledges $4.5bn towards Africa’s clean energy development

UAE pledges $4.5bn towards Africa’s clean energy development
Illustrative image - (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

As climate crisis effects worsen on the vulnerable African continent, more resources are needed for it to mitigate and adapt. The COP28 president, from the United Arab Emirates, has pledged $4.5bn towards the continent’s clean energy development.

A $4.5-billion investment in Africa’s clean energy development was announced at the inaugural Africa Climate Summit, by COP28 president Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber on the second day of the gathering. 

The funding facility is one that Al Jaber hopes will encourage African leaders to remove red tape around new energy projects to improve regulatory framework and policy, in turn attracting further investment. 

Al Jaber, the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE’s) minister of industry and advanced technology, was speaking at the gathering in Nairobi, Kenya, where delegates including presidents, ministers and organisations from around the continent and globe have gathered. The attendees are seeking to come up with solutions on climate action financing, green growth for Africa, climate action and economic development, as well as global capital optimisation.

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

“The initiative will prioritise investments in countries across Africa with clear transition strategies, enhanced regulatory frameworks and a masterplan for developing grid infrastructure that integrates supply and demand.

“In short, this initiative is designed to work with Africa, for Africa. It aims to clearly demonstrate the commercial case for clean investment across this continent. And it will act as a scalable model that can be replicated to help put Africa on a superhighway to low carbon growth,” Al Jaber said.

Institutions that will invest in and mobilise additional finance include a mixed bag of public and private entities from the UAE, such as credit, insurance and energy companies. 

The announcement came a day after South African Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy said at an event running parallel to the summit that further infrastructure development was needed to advance climate resilience on the continent.

Creecy emphasised that developed countries had not met their pledge of $100-billion per year in climate financing to developing countries.

“In South Africa’s view, we must pioneer the deployment of new financial instruments, particularly non-debt instruments, policy-based guarantees, and options that do not require sovereign guarantees.

“These instruments should focus on the economic costs of transition risk by taking first-loss risks on investments in technologies that are not yet commercially available. In addition, we need approaches that facilitate scaling-up through interventions that help bridge the gap to commercial project viability, mitigate risks, finance first-of-its-kind projects and support technical assistance work,” Creecy said.

The Africa Climate Summit is being held ahead of the COP28 global climate negotiations that will take place in Dubai, UAE, in November/December. Last year, COP27 saw a watered-down commitment to “phasing down on fossil fuels” as opposed to doing away with them — as numerous trusted groups such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have shown is required.

‘False solutions’

Fossil Free South Africa has called out the Africa Climate Summit for not addressing or placing on the agenda a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels. The Real Africa Climate Summit — a collective of more than 500 civil society organisations — has raised the matter of the Africa Climate Summit being driven by research from the US consultancy firm McKinsey & Co, noting that African leaders have been pushed aside.

The organisations fear that the summit’s outcomes will be aligned with “false solutions” such as carbon markets, carbon removal and climate-positive approaches; ideas led by and aligned with the West.

The Africa Climate Summit ends on Wednesday and is expected to produce the Nairobi Declaration; an outline of Africa’s climate action, priorities and needs. This declaration will be presented at COP28 in Dubai, in the hope of attracting more support and aid for climate action for the continent.

Creecy said, “The African continent needs access to scaled-up new and additional and predictable grants and highly concessional finance which could be deployed effectively to create enabling environments by beginning to buy down risks and create new asset classes for clean investments that would allow for greater mobilisation and leveraging of public and private finance.” DM

Absa OBP

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Caroline de Braganza says:

    The mention of McKinsey being involved in research for the Summit raises a red flag of Western influence. We should phase out, not phase down fossil fuels – finished and klaar. Talk of carbon markets, carbon credits, etc is obfuscation. Will COP28 be another copout kicking the climate can down the road?

    The pledge of $4.5bn investment in Africa from the UAE is laughable. Eskom’s grid infrastructure expansion alone will require investment of around R270bn over the next decade. The UAE’s investment offer equates to R0.0855bn – a microscopic drop in the ocean.

  • Michele Rivarola says:

    Like KarpPower donating a game reserve for IAPs to withdraw objections: “Karpowership donates game farm in exchange for no objections from KZN wildlife body”. If this is not attempted capture and dishonest then I have no idea what is, as if it makes any difference to the pollution and environmental damage. As they SA open for business, it matters not whether it is honest or crooked.

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