EU-Africa Green Investment Forum highlights Africa’s Green Growth scope

EU-Africa Green Investment Forum highlights Africa’s Green Growth scope

Last Friday, United Nations Secretary General Antionio Guterres and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen opened the EU-Africa Green Investment Forum- the largest event for dialogue centred on investment in Africa to take place since the beginning of the coronavirus global pandemic. Hosted by EU Portuguese Presidency and the European Investment Bank, the event was attended by around 1,000 participants, both in Lisbon and online from around the world, who shared sustainable investment best practice, including through catalysing digitalisation and strengthening economic resilience.

A recorded message by António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, was played during the opening session of the event, in which he said that the gathering was an opportunity to strengthen partnerships and boost investment in Africa for the benefit of all. He added that agendas were converging around financing a green transition and greater resilience, and that African countries were rapidly scaling up renewables, particularly solar and wind power.

African Development Bank President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina also spoke to global audiences via a video address about the continent’s vast opportunities for green growth through investing in climate-smart crops to build more resilient food systems, climate-resilient infrastructure and energy transition. According to him, energy, agriculture and infrastructure are three key areas of investment potential for a post-Covid-19 recovery in Africa from its first recession in 25 years. He threw light on the fact that since the continent has abundant solar, wind, hydro and geothermal energy resources, its energy transition alone offers a $100 billion per year investment opportunity. He added that a climate-resilient infrastructure would offer investment potential of $130 billion to $170 billion.

While many speakers appreciated the Biden administration’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030, nearly all highlighted the need for Africa’s recovery to be green. “We need to bring everyone on board,” said African Union Commissioner Josefa Sako, calling for a just transition- one that would hold the developed world historically responsible for climate change, and prevent the vulnerable populations from being pushed into greater poverty.

Werner Hoyer, European Investment Bank President, said that even though Africa is the most vulnerable continent in terms of climate change, it produces the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per head and is a place where mistakes made in the past in developed countries can be avoided. He emphasised the need to invest in innovative technologies for a sustainable and inclusive future.

Adesina added that while the African Development Bank is in the vanguard of investment in climate adaptation, more than 70% of the financing requires to be funded by the private sector, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, to complement public investments in the collective fight against climate change through innovative approaches. Through citing the example of a new plastic recycling plant in Ghana which has already created 2,300 green jobs, while converting food waste into organic fertilisers, he explained that a greener Africa must also focus on the circular economy, in which waste can be recycled and turned into wealth.

Dr. Adesina commended the European Commission’s External Investment Plan, and said that the Bank looked forward to building a strong partnership with the Commission to deliver more in the context of the new EU strategy with Africa. “Africa is already green. Africa just needs to get greener. What is needed now is more euros to back Africa’s green growth,” he concluded, encouraging people to think about different investment opportunities, to “think differently, think Africa.”

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Soumya Duggal

Soumya is a master's degree holder in English, with a passion for writing. It's an interest she has directed towards environmental writing recently, with a special emphasis on the progress being made in renewable energy.