EU makes offer to Africa's climate change fight

Tuesday September 05 2023

President of the European Commission Ursula Von Der Leyen makes her remarks during the second day of the Africa Climate Summit ongoing at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi, Kenya on September 05, 2023. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG


The European Union says it doesn't want to be just a natural resource harvester in Africa, choosing, instead, to promise new assistance to help the continent transit to greener energy.

On the second day of the African Climate Summit in Nairobi, the European Union said it was backing the continent with assistance to create jobs with a special investment plan on adapting to climate change, an additional stripe to a region that has perennially been accused of exploiting Africa for centuries.

And European Union (EU) President, Ursula Von Der Leyen said the European bloc was upending its dealings with Africa through the £150 billion ($156 billion) Global Gateway Investment Plan for Africa.

For decades, the EU members extracted oil, gas and other natural resources in Africa to power their industries. Now the bloc itself wants to rid itself of dirty energy and has been pushing poor Africans to follow suit. This change in policy has proven controversial as some African countries want to enjoy the lately discovered resources before transiting. 

EU's Global Gateway targets investments ranging from hydropower plants in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania. It also includes the €1 billion ($1.1 billion) Initiative on Climate Adaptation and Resilience in Africa, which the EU announced at COP27, the UN climate conference in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt in November last year.

Read: Kenya to work with UAE amid calls to have COP28 president removed


“We are not only interested in extracting resources. We want to partner with you to create local value chains, to create good jobs here in Africa,” said Ms von der Leyen.

“We want to share European technology with you. We want to invest in skills for local workers. This is crucial for the young people. Because the stronger you are as suppliers, the more Europe will diversify supply chains towards Africa, and the more we will both de-risk our economies.”

She said that the Nairobi summit was a crucial step to prepare the upcoming COP28 meeting and to make sure that Africa's voice resonates around the world and that Africa's priorities – as a continent that is most affected by climate change – are duly taken on board.

“First of all, we fully support the need for multilateral development bank reform. It is time to move from words to action – absolutely,” she explained.

“Secondly, investment has to come. Africa needs massive investment. And Europe wants to be your partner in closing this investment gap. This is why EUR 150 billion in our investment plan is designated for Africa, we call it Global Gateway. These €150 billion are aimed at the African continent.”

She cited Namibia, which is now building a new hydrogen industry, as well as a raw materials value chain, in partnership with Europe.

Kenya and the EU were expected to conclude a new Hydrogen Partnership to develop the green hydrogen economy, and with the full support of Team Europe.

Read: AfDB to provide $25 million climate financing, Adesina says

During the summit, that ends on Wednesday, the African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina said the Bank is committing $25 million towards climate financing.

“Africa must use its natural gas and combine it with renewable resources. We must ensure that Africa's food and agriculture are climate resilient,” said Adesina.

“We must revalue the wealth of Africa by accounting for the proper valuation of its natural resources, an example being the Congo forest which is a carbon sink. Africa's GDP must be re-valued based on their carbon sequestration. Africa must develop its own carbon markets. It cannot be nature rich, and cash poor.”

The COP28 President-Designate, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, announced  a United Arab Emirates  (UAE) finance initiative that will provide $4.5 billion to help unlock Africa's clean energy potential.

The announcement came with a clear call to action for African leaders to improve policy and regulatory frameworks to attract the long-term investments necessary to accelerate the deployment of clean and renewable energy.