Amplify the voice of African countries globally and provide a space and platform to highlight the continent's challenges, opportunities and responses -- this was the focus of Africa Day on 2 December 2023.
The day opened with a high-level session at which several African leaders called for "increasing climate finance and green growth in Africa", the theme of the event.
Claver Gatete, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Commission for Africa, emphasized key areas for leveraging resources and strategic collaborations to finance climate action and green growth:
"Let’s make our priority investing in the deployment of the continent's abundant renewable resources and processing its essential minerals. Let’s concentrate on developing innovative financing mechanisms such as the initiatives of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Editor's note: Sustainable Development Goal 7: "Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy"), which have enabled South Africa to issue three billion Rand in green bonds for renewable energy investments."
Mr Gatete added, "Let us also develop African carbon credit markets, which provide significant opportunities for opening up green finance."
The African Development Bank, which launched a Climate Action Window to mobilize up to $14 billion to support adaptation in 37 low-income countries, highlighted the continent's wealth. "Everything that we have, we have in abundance," said Bank President Akinwumi Adesina to African leaders and representatives of governments and the private and public sectors.
Dr Adesina made his point forcefully: Africa is home to 65% of the world's uncultivated arable land and has a key role to play in global food security. "What Africa makes of agriculture will determine the future of the world's food. Our determination is crystal clear: Africa will never again beg for food," he said, referring to the January 2023 Dakar Summit, which was the key to mobilizing, to date, $72 billion for the agriculture and food sector in Africa.
Speaking on this special day at COP28, the Bank's president called on African countries to be proud of themselves: "Africa should always be celebrated. The Africa that we celebrate is that of the young people who are the continent’s present and future."
The President of Senegal, Macky Sall, agreed fully: "African young people's future is on the continent of Africa. Africa has a legitimate need for development and industrialization to become part of global value chains, rather than being merely a reservoir of raw materials. We must create added value to provide our young people with jobs.
The fundamental challenge in Africa is to be able to finance cheap energy, especially through green industry. The continent must benefit from a fair energy transition. Partners have to support this transformation towards a low-carbon economy. We need adequate funding to develop our potential," concluded the Senegalese President.
African Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, took a more political tone. Denouncing the injustice of seeing the continent, a "minor polluter", receive "too little" in funding to fight the effects of climate change, he stressed that financial climate investment in Africa represented a "congruent share". "This investment must not diminish," he said, insisting on the link between transition and adaptation: "We must engage in serious negotiations with our partners to find consensus."
Moussa Faki Mahamat said, "The Nairobi Declaration (adopted at the September 2023 Africa Climate Summit in Kenya) must remain our credo. Africa's opportunity lies in speaking as one."
The honour of officially inaugurating Africa Day at COP28 went to Azali Assoumani, the president of Comoros and sitting Chair of the African Union. "We see the growing importance of green and sustainable growth in Africa and of innovative partnerships to ensure climate finance," he said, praising Kenyan President William Ruto’s leadership at the Africa Climate Summit.
Coming from an archipelago that is sharply impacted by climate change, Mr Assoumani highlighted the situation of coastal and island states, calling especially for the development of a synergy between green and blue economies so that no African country remains on the margins of inclusive growth in Africa.
"The oceans and marine resources have a crucial role to play in the African Union’s Agenda 2063. Given their potential, the blue and green economies constitute a potent catalyst for sustainable development on our continent," he concluded, on a note of optimism.
Source: African Development Bank Group