2019 Blogs

Africa Climate Action Finance Gap- A Worrisome Trend

Africa Climate Action Finance Gap- A Worrisome Trend

Africa already needs a minimum of $2.5trillion to implement its climate action commitments. Even as COP26 in Glasgow agreed to double the $100 billion pledge to developing countries, this means that even if the pledges were honoured in full, the gap would still be gapping for Africa.

If we were to go with just a few countries example, Ghana needs $9.3 - 15.5billion to implement their Climate action plans between 2020- 2030. Uganda needs $2.9billion for adaptation and $5.4billion mitigation actions, specifically in energy totalling $8.3 billion. The key is that implementation costs are exorbitant & public finance alone is not adequate. Over the years, the total climate financing to Africa has not yet reached $10billion - not even sufficient for just Uganda & Ghana not to talk of the entire continent.  This then is to say that the continent urgently needs to look into market financing approaches beyond current international public finance alone.  

At the same time, Africa already invests in adaptation at the rate of 2% of GDP each year. The question is how the region can bridge the finance gap using what it already has. Through our work, we support countries to put in place structures to attract market investments - both local & international - and lessons from these countries will be expanded to inform all 54 countries with gaps in this area. The need for practical tools to inform optimal implementation trajectories for countries is now in full swing. For example, article 6 specifies cross-border cooperation in implementing the agreement. This opens the door for investment cooperation from different partners to drive the implementation of respective countries’ NDCs. Countries will need tools to inform them on the optimal areas of return that these investments should be channelled to. Tools – in the form of investment plans and multi-sectorial policy coordination – to ensure a ready platform to operationalize these critical aspects of the Paris Agreement that the Glasgow pact has now energized are crucial.

This is to say that the region can leverage Article 6 to mobilise market financing to drive key NDCs action in the two most critical sectors to the just transition – agriculture and clean energy – that are already prioritised in over 70% of NDCs. For example, Article 6.2 on Internationally-Transferred Mitigation Outcomes (ITMO) allows countries that are considered the highest emitters to partner with low emitters across the globe – including in Africa – and agree on how their high emissions can be offset through investing in supporting a low emission action within the territories of low emitters. Africa, due to its negligible emissions, is a natural supply market here. But the key to Africa’s benefit should be on how well such market mechanisms are tied to catalyse the growth of competitive low carbon enterprises on the continent. While typical areas of investment have been in reforestation, Africa should take a strategic stance and prioritise how any collaborations towards reforestation will enhance much needed economic productivity.

Creating jobs for youth, enhancing food security to drive a trajectory of competitive economies is critical. Here, collaboration to invest in clean energy aligned to powering agriculture value addition enterprises will be unlocking up to $48 billion worth of PHLs, as positive financing tied to power a just transition. Africa should look at investing its 2% of GDP contribution to climate action to forging collaborations under Article 6 that unlock such tangible enterprises to implement up to 70% of its NDCs while unlocking key socioeconomic opportunities to drive a just transition.
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Some of the money pledged and promised will go to developing countries to restore damaged land. The above opportunities for Africa should inform how this money is utilised to drive the implementation of NDCs. Indirect financing through incentivizing critical constituencies of implementers in Africa is vital. These resources should be used to incentivize a shift to non-typical sources such as micro-finance & cooperatives that are most accessible to most Africans in the informal sector and most vulnerable. Leveraging the informal sector that provides livelihoods for up to 80% of Africans and the youth to invest in enterprise actions that drive the realization of country NDCs is a critical niche to tap. Africa informal sector, as well as the youth, are already engaged in various actions.

In addition to looking at new sources of investment, we need to look at catalyzing a shift of investments by these actors who are the majority players in Africa’s economies. This is how the finance gap in Africa can be close as we supercharge and turbocharge the informal sector to become socio-economically viable. This will be when climate action financing will matter to the most vulnerable to the continent and elsewhere.
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Dr Richard Munang is a Climate Action and Development Policy Expert, Renowned Inspirational Public Speaker, Award-Winning Innovator, Author of #InnovativeVolunteerism

 

 

 

How to drive Climate Action through Youth Innovative Volunteerism in Africa

How to drive Climate Action through Youth Innovative Volunteerism in Africa

In recent years we have seen the disenfranchisement of young people from all works of life across the continent venting out their frustration. The indignity and the pain of being unable to put food on the table cut across everyone regardless of chronological age – and this is where the pain of our youth lies. These youth represent the continent’s most sovereign capital to drive accelerated socioeconomic, climate-resilient transformation.

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The way to change anything is NOT to use the same approaches that caused the problem, but rather apply alternative approaches, where inclusivity and selflessness are at the centre stage. We must all converge for a conversation on how we can each apply our talents, skills, motivations, aptitudes, passions to forge solutions to these challenges.  A conversation on how we can practically tap youth's talents to turn pressing socio-economic challenges into competitive enterprise opportunities that put more money in more pockets. 

We are living in unprecedented times. The Covid-19 Pandemic has undoubtedly challenged every one of us, ranging to economies and societies globally. Africa, like the rest of the globe, has suffered the consequences of the COVID-19Lives and livelihoods have been lostOpportunities and hopes of millions have been dashed. And in the midst of all this, many lessons have accrued. The most fundamental of which speaks to the core of value. Speaks to the core of our usefulness as a people. And the verdict has been consistent – t is time for all of us to stop passing the buck of responsibility and take development as a personal responsibilityBecause when it matters mostit must become personal.  

 

Let face it, in the solutions world where progress resides; youthfulness is usefulness. This is the only realistic view of the term “youth” that matters. What matters is the value we can bring to the solutions table. This understanding of youthfulness is critical to our discussion of Innovative Volunteerism, which starts with two insightful African proverbs.

The first proverb is - that “the one with eyes is not told to see” in the context of our discussion, from the mountains of East Africa to the rainforests of central Africa. From the coastlines of West Africa to the savannas of Southern Africa and on to the golden sands of North AfricaAfrica’s challenges are self-evident. 257 million people go to bed hungry every day. 620million people are energy impoverished. Over 12 million new jobs are needed every year as more youth join the “tarmac” in a desperate search for hard to find, near non-existent jobs. The elephant in the room – Climate Change, where the content remains the most disproportionately vulnerable region of the globe to its disastrous impacts, which we are already seeing across the entire continent.  

The blame game and passing the buck is not an optionSelflessly applying what we have, our skills, talents, creativity, energy to touch many lives is the only option. It is out of this reality and needs that Innovative Volunteerism came about as a mindset change tool. It is a tool to enable everyone to apply their skills & talents, regardless of disciplinary backgrounds, to touch many lives. To enable each of us to take personal responsibility for #ClimateAction and, in the process, tap into the many income & enterprise opportunities that it presents.

This then brings in the second proverb that contextualises Innovative Volunteerism from an operational dimension. Which is - that “not everyone who chased the zebra caught it, but he who caught it, chased it”. This proverb reminds us that we must take all chances and act if Innovative Volunteerism is to work. We must step out into the solutions space and get to work with what we have. One fundamental construct of life that is misconstrued and has limited us from taking chances is that people expect the world to be a place of celebration and absolute ease. Yet, the reality is that it is supposed to be a place of challenges. Those who came before us faced serious challenges. But they did not relent. They surmounted, and out of this, arose solutions that we continue to enjoy to this day. In this information age, the challenges we face are just a small fraction of the momentous challenges that those who went before us overcame. The point, therefore, is this – that the world is not a celebration or a place of ease, but it is a place of surmounting challenges, devising solutions that make life better for ourselves and everyone else.

 We, therefore, must banish this fundamental misconception that has made Africa continue to take last and embrace reality as it is. We must not let challenges relegate us to a place of dependency and shortcuts, but rather embrace them as the reality and work to devise solutions to them. To give you another example, consider a baby learning to walk and put yourself in the baby’s world. When learning to walk, that is a difficult, painful & risky task that all babies undertake. They fall often. At times, they injure themselves. They even bled and cried. But they do not stop. They push through, and that is how all of us adults learn to walk and run. You can imagine a baby who stopped trying at the shock and pain of the first fall because they thought people automatically walked with no pain. They will stagnate and never achieve any of their potentials. The same applies to life. We must stop expecting things to be easy. Remember that challenges are inevitable and will come. But they represent an opportunity for you to devise alternatives & solutions that will surmount them and catapult you to a high level where you touch many lives. This is what each of us must engrain in our minds on a sombre note from now on. Anything less and the sorry state we will persist. 

This is the letter and spirit of Innovative Volunteerism. That we take personal responsibility to address climate change challenges using what we already have – our skills, talents, energy, creativity, ongoing work, and leveraging the already existing enabling policy & regulatory environment, and delivering climate action solutions from an enterprise dimension, but to execute this responsibility, first, we must be willing. Then we must be selfless. Then we must act in a structured way, building on our strengths to ensure the solutions are effective and globally competitive. And this structure means improving, refining, and adapting our skills, talents, ongoing work, regardless of disciplinary backgrounds, to selflessly offer competitive climate action solutions in Africa’s area of global comparative advantage, which is its clean energy powered sustainable agro-value chains. And as you set forth, I will leave you with the following key takeaways: 

First, Fundamentals do not change.

We live in the era of global competitiveness and market economies. The implication is that the sustainability of any initiative we undertake depends on how successfully it can be executed as an enterprise. To you, this means that any cause you are passionate about must touch many lives and one that can be implemented in an enterprising way. And this means prioritising solutions through sectors for which we hold unique comparative advantages that can enable us to solve challenges while creating competitive enterprise opportunities. In Africa, our clear global abundance in clean energy and arable land, coupled with very high postharvest losses & food imports, place us primally to tap no less than $83 billion each year from straightforward actions.

 

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For example, decentralizing solar driers made from locally available material to farmers & traders in local markets who produce and sell us food means enabling them to preserve and increase the shelf life of their harvest. This, in turn, means that what remains unsold at the end of the day can be sold when demand peaks. This means cutting postharvest losses to increase food availability and increasing earnings at this farmer & informal trader level by up to 30times. And the multiplier effects of such a move means unlocking income opportunities which means more opportunities – be it for the transports, small-scale manufacturing opportunities for those who fabricate these dryers, marketing opportunities, among many. And all these realised without piling on unnecessary emissions that exacerbate climate change. And the beauty is there are favourable sectorial policies in all countries. What it will take is for each of us to come down from our mental high horse, that tells us that having a certificate entitles us to a job, that tells us life is supposed to be a celebration and to realise that the certificates actually bequeath us a responsibility to solve problems and offer real value to society and the creator.

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Second, “you have little power over what is not yours”.

The first thing you must answer yourself honestly is to determine what you really have. And what you really own – is yourself. By yourself, I mean your skills. It is your responsibility to continually improve, refine and adapt your skills to ensure you tap into contemporary opportunities that climate action presents in the catalytic area. Waste recovery to wealth is another critical area that is complementary to clean energy & agro-vale chains. 

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Converting agriculture waste to fuel briquettes is a $20 billion a year industry that replaces charcoal use while preserving forests.  Converting waste to biofertilizer can recoup billions spent in imported mineral fertilisers. And by this, ignite local fertiliser production enterprises that do not harm the environmentAgriculture waste recovery to fuel briquettes and biofertilizer represent the most non-capital enterprise areas that any youth can engage in, which also aligns with Africa’s area of comparative advantage. But this is not the only one. Plastic pollution, for instance, already costs Africa millions of dollars.

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 Third, is the finance question.

As an African proverb reminds us, “money is sharper than the sword”. This speaks of the importance of financial capital. But one key question that is hardly answered is – do we need finance at scale or impact at scale? Africa needs impact at scale, and for this, finance cannot be approached in the traditional sense but built on structures that are well known in Africa. I am talking of the already well-established structure of low-risk financing that we call communal cooperatives. These exist in nearly every village in Africa. What needs to happen is for each of you to join these cooperatives, pool your resources, and raise the capital you need to kick start climate action enterprises. In addition, through these cooperatives, you will build relationships with other actors, who may end up being your clients. This is how we will achieve impact at scale.  

Fourth, we must leverage Soft Power to reboot Africa’s narrative.

One profound African proverb reminds us that “a cutting word is worse than a bowstring, a cut may heal, but the cut of the tongue does not”. In the context of this discussion, this proverb underscores the importance of what I call “soft power”, which is mostly expressed in the content in our words. And I will give just one example to illustrate this. With the advent of social media, many youths are influencing their peers through what they share. From their taste in fashion to music and lifestyles that they share on social media platforms, youth influence each other’s choices on a global scale through social media. This is a manifestation of soft power. In the not so distant past, an international media house slandered an African country. And the youth and other social media users launched a famous hashtag that trended for days causing the media house to withdraw and apologise for their out of character representation of the said country. This is soft powerMy message to you today is this – instead of wasting your soft power in influencing your peers to do things that do not add value, the time has now come that you influence each other to become solutions providers. To catalyse the growth of alliances of solutions providers – where we all influence each other to take decisive integrated action on catalytic areas of clean energy value addition and waste recovery to wealth as discussed today. This is what being an Innovative Volunteerism actor entails. We have the tools in our hands. Let us not waste any more time.

 

 Dr Richard Munang is a Climate Action and Development Policy Expert, Renowned Inspirational Public Speaker, Award-Winning Innovator, Author of #InnovativeVolunteerism

 

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