President Ruto and UAE spearhead new African clean energy initiative at COP28

  • 7 Dec 2023
  • 4 Mins Read
  • 〜 by James Ngunjiri

President William Ruto and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have joined forces to convene African Heads of State and other prominent personalities to accelerate Africa’s green industrialisation.  

Speaking during the launch of the ‘Africa Green Industrialization Initiative’ at the COP28, President Ruto said the initiative aims to accelerate and scale green industries and businesses across Africa, promote climate mitigation and adaptation, and catalyse economic green growth on the continent.

The launch was made at a high-profile event focused on accelerating Africa’s green industrialisation co-hosted by Kenya and the UAE and attended by African Heads of State and leading figures from green developers, industry, multilateral development banks, and key institutions from across the UAE and Africa.

President Ruto’s new initiative’ builds upon the UAE’s existing USD 4.5 billion ‘Africa Green Investment Initiative’, which aims to finance 15 Gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity in Africa by the end of the decade and unlock catalytic investments in Africa’s green industrialization. 

The initiative further aims to create and implement a new economic narrative for the continent and its role in global trade, develop a full value chain of activities and sectors to drive the continent’s green industrialisation and launch regional partnerships and consortiums of collaborations to implement it. 

“The initiative marks a concrete step towards the realization of the Nairobi Declaration, activating private sector-led scaling-up of green industrial clusters,” President Ruto said.

African leaders unequivocally embraced the Africa Green Industrialization Initiative as the definitive pathway for the development of their nations. The leaders discussed their plans for active end-to-end socioeconomic transformation through the rapid growth of green industrial clusters, and the strong role of regional and global export markets for value-added green products and technologies, crucial for the global clean energy value chain. 

“We are forging a green pathway for Africa. Through strategic collaborations with industrial and energy developers across the continent, we have set in motion a virtuous cycle, fostering economic growth and sustainable job creation,” said Macky Sall, President of Senegal. 

The initiative underscores the importance of green industrialization to harness the African continent’s vast and high-quality resources to secure prosperity for all. Those in attendance also stressed that Africa’s green industrialization is critical for the achievement of the world’s collective climate ambitions.

COP28 President, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, lauded the initiative as an opportunity to elevate the ambition of the COP28 Presidency’s Clean Energy program launched at the African Climate Summit in Nairobi in September. 

“The UAE not only wants to support countries’ green industrialization: we want populations in those countries to have access to high-quality jobs and opportunities. This is the spirit of green industrialization,” said Dr Jaber. He further emphasised that the challenge the African continent faces is not in the scarcity of resources but in the scarcity of action. 

The COP28 Presidency announced the initial achievements under the UAE’s Initiative, noting nearly USD 2.6 billion has already been allocated for power projects across eight countries that will add approximately 1.8 GW of clean capacity to the African grid. 

The two initiatives are part of the operationalisation of the COP28 UAE ‘Leaders Declaration on a Global Climate Finance Framework’ adopted by 12 countries that will guide new models of delivering climate finance that is more available, accessible, and affordable. 

The initiatives will also play a key role in creating the necessary investment pipelines for the operationalisation of the catalytic climate vehicle ALTÉRRA, worth USD 30 billion, which was also announced by the UAE at the World Climate Action Summit on December 1. 

Robust financing 

At the same time, global leaders who attended this year’s global climate change conference in Dubai urged a more global response to the continent’s adaptation financing needs to tackle the impact of climate change and build resilience.  

Speaking during the Adaptation Finance Summit for Africa on the second day of the COP28, the leaders said climate adaptation funding, currently at 39 percent of all climate finance flows to Africa, must rapidly increase. 

The President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, announced initiatives by the institution in response to the climate adaptation needs of Africa. This includes the launch of a Climate Action Window, aimed at mobilising up to USD 14 billion to support adaptation for 37 low-income countries. 

“I am pleased to announce here today that the operationalisation of the Climate Action Window starts right here, at this COP, as we launch the first Call for Proposals this week,” said Dr Adesina.

The AfDB President called on donors and investors to join the Climate Action Window to deliver climate-resilient agricultural technologies for 20 million farmers; deliver weather insurance for 20 million farmers; rehabilitate one million hectares of degraded lands; provide water, sanitation and health services to 18 million people, and renewable energy for close to 10 million people.  

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan announced that the Global Centre for Adaptation would formalise partnerships under the African Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAA-P) to provide technical support to mobilise USD 700 million green bonds issued by two Tanzanian commercial banks to finance climate adaptation. “In Tanzania, we are showing how to generate funds for adaptation and mitigation,” she said.  

Senegal President Macky Sall proposed the exploration by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other partners to finance green projects, including adaptation, with resources initially earmarked for debt repayments. 

“Africa remains behind in the adaptation process because it benefits very little from concessional financing and green investments,” he said. The Senegalese president added that as a result, African countries are going into heavy debt to finance their green projects, which constitutes a double punishment for the continent that pollutes the least. “Africa is not asking for a special favour but a fair and equitable approach to the fight against global warming.” 

To help bridge the financing gap, the continent launched in 2021 the world’s largest adaptation program, the USD 25 billion Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program. It is led by the AfDB Group, the African Union Commission (AU), and the Global Centre of Adaptation, to actualise the vision of the Africa Adaptation Initiative.

The COP is the single largest global platform for nations to negotiate an agreed way forward to tackle climate change. The gathering also brings together major stakeholders engaged in climate change – governments, the private sector, youth and civil society.