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Earth Finds

Climate Change Development Partners Believe Africa's Future Depends On Solidarity

There was standing room only as ministers, diplomats, activists and journalists gathered at the IFEMA conference centre in Madrid to mark Africa Day at the COP 25 climate meeting. Speakers called for a united front to tackle the challenges of climate change in Africa.

In the opening statement for Africa Day on Tuesday, Yasmin Fouad, Egypt's Minister of Environmental Affairs, on behalf of the African Union, said: "We have, and will continue to engage and to seek landing grounds on the outstanding issues.

But we must flag our concern at the apparent reluctance by our interlocutors to engage on issues of priority to developing countries, as evidenced by the large number of such issues which have simply been pushed from session to session without any progress."

Africa contributes the least to global warming emissions yet is the continent most vulnerable to climate change, as witnessed by devastating natural disasters recently. Africa Day has been held at the conference every year since COP 17 in 2011 to rally support for the continent's cause.

"The climate disaster issues confronting the continent demand a predictable and unified response," said UN ASG Mohamed Beavogui, Director General of African Risk Capacity, an agency of the African Union that helps governments respond to natural disasters.

"Africa needs to move towards market-based innovative financing models to achieve a strong, united, resilient and globally influential continent. The future of Africa depends on solidarity."

Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), said the ECA would support African countries to revise their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to attract private sector investments in clean energy.

"The lack of concerted and meaningful global ambition and action to tackle climate change poses an existential threat to African populations," Songwe said.

The Paris Agreement is the guiding force of current climate negotiations. It calls on nations to curb temperature increases at 2°C by the end of this century, while attempting to contain rises within 1.5°C. The next step is to implement NDCs, which set out national targets under the Paris Agreement.

While African countries outlined bold aspirations to build climate resilient and low-carbon economies in their NDCs, the continent's position is that it should not be treated the same as developed nations as its carbon emissions constitute a fraction of the world's big economies.

"The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) remains committed to partnering with other institutions in providing the requisite support to AU member states in reviewing and updating their NDCs," said Estherine Fotabong, Director of Programmes at AUDA-NEPAD.

Barbara Creecy, South Africa's Environment Minister and current chair of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, said the Africa Day event should come up with new ideas to enhance the implementation of NDCs in Africa.

Africa is already responding positively to the challenge of climate change, said Anthony Nyong, Director for Climate Change and Green Growth at the African Development Bank, citing huge investment interest in renewables at the Bank's Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg.

"Clearly, we are a continent that has what it takes to create the Africa that we want to see happen. I believe what has been the missing link is the ability to brand right and to act on the market signals," Nyong said. "We continue to present Africa as a vulnerable case and not as a business case with opportunities. In fact, where we have attempted the latter, the results have been spot-on."

Chief Fortune Charumbira, Vice President of the Pan-African Parliament, said robust climate legislation was key.

"The world's response to the challenge has shown that legislation is imperative to cement efforts employed by various stakeholders; from the Paris Agreement to Nationally Determined Contributions," he said.

Amb. Josefa Sacko, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union Commission, said climate change affected sectors key to Africa's socio-economic development, such as agriculture, livestock and fisheries, energy, biodiversity and tourism. She called on African countries to take stock of the Paris Agreement, and its implementation around finance capacity building and technology.

AfDB, African Union To Roll-out Continent-wide Electricity Market Masterplan

The African Development Bank (AfDB.org) and the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) have agreed to jointly develop a blueprint for a pan-continental electricity network and market.

The agreement to set up a Continental Power System Master Plan between the Bank and AUDA-NEPAD was unveiled, on November 29th, during a three-day workshop on the sidelines of Programme for Infrastructure Development (PIDA) Week held in Cairo. The workshop also produced the Masterplan’s terms of reference.

“The Continental Power System Master Plan will ensure that competitive electricity markets are developed at regional and continental levels, creating unique opportunities to optimally utilize Africa’s vast energy resources for the benefit of Africa,” said Professor Mosad Elmissiry, a Senior Energy Advisor to AUDA-NEPAD’s CEO.

The workshop was aimed at advancing the launch of an Integrated Continental Transmission Network (ICTN) to link national power utilities into regional power pools and, ultimately, into a continent-wide transmission network. Plans also include setting up a market for electricity trading.

The Masterplan also will inform the energy component of a PIDA Action Plan, which focuses on key regional integration projects.

Development of a unified electricity transmission network and market for electricity trading are viewed as a critical priority to improve the lives of people across the continent.

“Most state-owned electric utilities in Africa today are unable to secure the financial resources needed to implement required segments of regional interconnectors and associated national feeder lines,” said Angela Nalikka, the Bank’s manager for National and Regional Power Systems, to explain the impetus for the partnership. “The Bank plans to encourage private sector participation in transmission projects in the continent.”

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UNDP, IRENA Poised To Support Breakthroughs On Renewables

Nations around the world can make breakthroughs in the shift to renewable energy, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said today, adding that such a move would drastically cut emissions and help the world get on track to meet the Paris climate goals and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Action by countries to stop the continued progression of fossil fuels is possible, UNDP and IRENA said at a joint event held at the UN Climate Summit in Madrid.

Renewable energy deployment would have to accelerate six-fold by 2030 if the world is to achieve the goal of cutting global carbon emissions by 45 per cent and keep temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, IRENA said.

In September, UNDP launched a new initiative called the 'Climate Promise', vowing to support as many countries as possible to revise and submit enhanced climate pledges – known as Nationally Determined Contributions – or NDCs, by 2020.

Working with the NDC partnership and other partners, UNDP will support 100 countries to accelerate the enhancement of national climate pledges by 2020, building on its climate action portfolio in over 140 countries. Energy is a crucial part of this work and IRENA will provide the necessary knowledge, and support countries to accelerate energy transitions driven by renewable energy.

To date, 78 countries are drawing upon UNDP's experience in disaster risk reduction, gender, health, and nature-based solutions.

"Shifting to renewables will create far-reaching development impacts, triggering an economic stimulus and creating millions of jobs around the world, not to mention widespread health and other welfare benefits. Renewable energy should be an integral part of countries' climate pledges," said Achim Steiner, the Administrator of UNDP. "We recognise the challenges, but this transition is achievable. At UNDP we stand ready to support countries to take bolder action on climate change."

"There is no sustainable development without renewable energy. It's possible to accelerate the low-carbon energy transition and achieve sustainable development, thereby creating inclusive and prosperous economies," Francesco La Camera, the Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency said at the Madrid Climate Summit.

According to IRENA, out of the 156 NDCs submitted to date, 135 countries mention renewables but most are underutilising renewables to raise their ambition. The agency also estimates that over USD 1.7 trillion would be needed by 2030 annually to implement adequate renewable energy targets, though much of that funding could come as a result of eliminating fossil fuel subsidies. 

In September, both partners launched a global campaign called #ItsPossible, engaging policy-makers and investors to join a push for renewables in countries around the world. The campaign will carry over into the next year.

During the joint event at COP25, IRENA also launched a new report 'NDCs in 2020: Advancing Renewables in the Power Sector and Beyond'.

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AfDB, Germany Inaugurate Rwanda's Shango Power Substation

The African Development Bank, Embassy of Germany in Rwanda and the KfW Development Bank joined the Government of Rwanda to inaugurate the high voltage 188 MVA Shango power substation in the capital Kigali and its related transmission network.

The substation is part of the NELSAP Regional Interconnection Project involving Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, DRC, and Burundi. The Rwandan component, at an estimated cost of 111.03 million euros, involves the construction of 286 km of 220 kV lines, three substations and the upgrade of two substations.

The African Development Fund, part of the African Development Bank Group, contributed 38 million euros (about 34%) of the total project cost.

The Shango substation, the biggest in the country, has been designed to play a key role in the management of electricity dispatching services in Rwanda and a routing node for electricity trading between the East African neighbors. Itis line with the Bank's High 5 priorities, Light Up and Power Africa and Integrate Africa.

Speaking at the inauguration, held on 5 December, Martha Phiri, Bank Country Manager in Rwanda expressed appreciation for the strong cooperation that the Bank continues to enjoy with the Government of Rwanda.

The energization of the Shango substation and related network will facilitate the country's access to excess power of nearly 1,040 MW from the regional market, reducing reliance on expensive fossil-fuel generated power.

"This would eventually benefit the people and industries in Rwanda through increased availability, reliability of clean power and possible reduction in electricity tariffs," Phiri said.

Rwanda is pursuing an ambitious target to achieve affordable, reliable and universal access to electricity by 2024 in line with the National Strategy for Transformation.

The Bank's support to the energy sector has more than doubled over the past three years to the current level of 410.66 million euros, supporting seven public sector operations (of which three are regional projects) and one private sector operation.

With a total on-going portfolio of 1.04 billion euros, the Bank's country strategy for Rwanda has two pillars: (i) investing in energy and water infrastructure to enable inclusive and green growth, and (ii) developing skills to promote high value-added economic activities and economic transformation.

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