Africa Seizing Opportunities for Green Economy Transition – Achim Steiner’s Speech to the Africa Regional 3GF (Global Green Growth Forum)


Building on a strong endowment of natural resource and skills, Africa is poised to become the frontline of a global transition to more-inclusive green economies.

Nairobi, 13 May 2015

Esteemed Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here today at the beginning of a discussion that will, I am sure, see the sharing of many innovative ideas that will further drive the growing green economy revolution in Africa.

I would like to thank His Excellency William Ruto, Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya, for taking the time from his busy schedule to lend weight to today’s proceedings, and therefore to the transition to a continent-wide green economy.

I would also like to congratulate His Excellency Geert Aagaard Andersen, who will later this year take over the leadership of Global Green Growth Forum in

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year, a series of events will set the development agenda for decades to come: the Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa, the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Agenda, and the climate change meeting in Paris at the end of the year.

The 3GF provides a timely opportunity for African stakeholders to define their priorities to feed into these important processes. I am sure you will take full advantage of this meeting – just as we are seeing the continent take advantage of the many green economy opportunities at its fingertips. Building on a strong endowment of natural resource and skills, Africa is poised to become the frontline of a global transition to more-inclusive green economies.

African Ministers of Environment endorsed the green economy at the recent African Ministerial Conference on the Environment in Cairo, acknowledging that the “green economy can be a vehicle to achieve all 17 draft sustainable development goals”.

This is a clear signal of continent-wide political will to accelerate the transition to a green economy. At a country level – from Rwanda to Ghana, from Morocco to South Africa, from Senegal to Kenya – the level of innovation and commitment to sustainable economic growth is remarkable.

In our host nation, for example, the government will soon launch its Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan (GESIP), which lays out how Kenya can increase investment in the green economy.

This is simple economic sense. Investing in the green economy provides opportunities to boost growth, address poverty, create employment and improve the overall well-being of the population.

In Kenya alone, a shift in investment to green sectors would lead to an additional 3.1 million people being lifted out of poverty by 2030, and gross domestic product (GDP) 12 per cent higher than under a business-as-usual scenario.

Green investments also improve agricultural yields, on which the majority of African citizens still depend. Agriculture remains the dominant sector of the African economy – accounting for 32 per cent of GDP and supporting the livelihoods of 80 per cent of Africa’s population. In Senegal, for example, the amount of arable land available will increase by 5 per cent if investments in sustainable agriculture are made.

Wealth Accounting

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Africa’s economy is growing fast. The World Bank estimates that growth in sub-Saharan Africa will hit 5.1 per cent by 2017. But the challenge before today’s leaders is to ensure that this expansion does not come at the expense of the natural resources upon which the continent so heavily depends.

Natural capital is a critical asset, but such resources are often left out of balance sheets, meaning they are not accounted for in development processes – despite the economic value they bring and the many livelihoods and businesses they support.

For example, a recent UNEP study found that Zambia’s forest ecosystems contribute $1.3 billion, roughly 6.3 per cent of GDP, to the national economy – almost double previous estimates thanks to the inclusion of value-adds such as water regulation, carbon storage and pollination.

And evidence elsewhere shows that conserving natural capital creates jobs – crucial in Africa where an estimated 11 million youth are expected to join the labour market every year. Since 1995, an estimated 486,000 work opportunities were created in South Africa in environmental rehabilitation programs, including sustainable forest management and reducing invasive species.

Renewable Energy

Part of Africa’s growth strategy must also involve bringing energy to all of its citizens – a key focus of UNEP’s work under the Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative.

Over 1.2 billion people don’t have access to electricity, almost half of them in Africa. As a result, many rely on wood or other biomass to cook and heat their homes, causing millions of deaths each year from indoor air pollution.

To ensure people are not left behind, we need to provide them with access to clean, reliable and efficient energy – which of course brings the co-benefit of reduced carbon emissions and pollution. In that regard, it is encouraging to note that investment in a low-carbon future is on the rise.

In 2014, we saw a US$270 billion surge in investment, up 17 per cent on the previous year, according to the most recent Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment report from the Frankfurt School UNEP Centre and Bloomberg New Energy Finance. In developing countries, clean energy investment rose 36 per cent to US$131 billion, on track to surpass investment in developed countries.

I am delighted to note that Kenya is a major player in this shift to sustainable energy sources, with the government and private sector pursuing opportunities in geothermal, solar and wind.

Another example can be found in Ghana, where the Renewable Energy Fund is a successful illustration of resource mobilization for the promotion of renewable energy sources. Ghana is now building Africa’s largest solar PV plant.

Renewable energy also creates employment, as can be seen in Senegal – where investments in expanding solar and wind capacity are projected to create up to 30,000 additional jobs by 2035.

This trend in growth of renewable energy is one we at UNEP support through initiatives such as the Seed Capital Assistance Facility, and I look forward to seeing further investment around the continent.


Another vital element of the green economy transition lies within cities. Africa’s urban population was 41 per cent in 2012. But by 2035, around half of all its citizens will live in cities as the population approaches the two-billion mark.

This is, of course, a challenge. But it is also a major opportunity. Cities have agglomeration benefits that drive innovation, business development and job creation. What matters are innovative and integrated approaches, and the way cities are designed and managed.

For example, huge opportunities exist in energy-efficient buildings and lighting. According to a 2014 study by UNEP’s Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), energy-efficient buildings can deliver up to 20 per cent reductions in energy consumption and provide overall better market value for investors. Equally, a global switch to efficient on-grid and off-grid lighting would save more than US$140 billion and reduce CO2 emissions by 580 million tonnes every year.

Possibilities also exist in transport. With spending on transport infrastructure growing at an unprecedented rate across Africa, policymakers have a window of opportunity to mitigate climate change threats and ensure the health and well-being of millions of Africans by introducing clean and efficient transportation. In this regard, the Africa Sustainable Transport Forum, held in Nairobi last October, was an important step in the right direction.

The Adaptation Challenge

It is also important to focus our minds on the challenges the continent faces – chief among them climate change. Regardless of what the international community does this year in Paris, some impacts of climate change have already become unavoidable. Africa is, unfortunately, set to bear the brunt of such impacts.

By 2050, Africa’s adaptation costs could rise to US$50 billion per year if global warming were to remain below 2°C, and up to US$100 billion per year if the global temperature rise were more than 4°C by 2100.

This would have a severe impact on agricultural production, food security, human health and water availability – and undermine the sustainable development agenda. In Burkina Faso, for example, changes in rainfall patterns and temperatures could affect up to 30 per cent of agricultural production.

The evidence suggests that African countries – such as Ghana, Ethiopia and South Africa – are already committing resources of their own to adaptation efforts. However, international funding will be required to bridge the growing gap.


The need for financing is not limited to the climate, however. Enormous public and private investment is required for the transition to a low-carbon economy, to win the global fight against poverty and disease, and to provide high-quality education and physical infrastructure worldwide.

Indicative figures show the required additional investment flows into sustainable development will be in the range of 1 to 2.5 per cent of GDP per year from 2010 to 2050. Currently, investments in sustainable development are well below 1 per cent of global GDP.

A significant change across the world’s financial system in strategy, culture and approach will be required if capital and finance are to be reallocated to accelerate the emergence of a green economy – which is why UNEP launched the Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System.

The Inquiry, due to present its findings in October of this year, aims to engage, inform and guide policy makers, financial market actors and other stakeholders concerned with the health of the financial system and its potential for shaping the future economy.

Achieving a financial system that finances a green economy is dependent on working with all segments of the finance industry, and on bridging the dialogue gap between private finance and public stakeholders. UNEP FI is a good example of such effective partnerships. UNEP FI has 20 financial members in seven African countries, including South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Morocco.

Independently, several countries, such as Ethiopia, Rwanda and Mozambique, have established, or are looking to establish, special national funds to finance the implementation of their respective Green Economy Strategies. The Government of South Africa has set up a Green Fund to provide catalytic finance to facilitate investment in green initiatives – this includes funding green economy project initiation and development, research and development, and capacity-building initiatives.

This is just the beginning of what I hope will be a global move to the catalyzing the finance we need, but money doesn’t solve everything. Only when coupled with sound regulatory frameworks and appropriate pricing and incentives, and only when sustainability is mainstreamed in national development planning processes, will green economy investments achieve their full potential.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In conclusion, governments across Africa are formulating green economy strategies. These strategies are already driving growth, employment and trade opportunities, as well as reducing natural risks.

UNEP will be working with a wider range of stakeholders, most notably under the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), to assist governments in developing and boosting these strategies. Four African countries are already working with PAGE – Ghana, Senegal, Mauritius and Burkina Faso – and we look forward to more.

In addition, UNEP is working with the African Development Bank (AfDB) in countries such as Kenya and Mozambique. The AfDB has anchored green growth in its 10-Year Strategic plan, and established a cross-departmental Green Growth team.

With initiatives such as the above and the 3GF in place, political will to act growing ever stronger, a wealth of opportunities to draw upon, and more and more partners coming on board, Africa’s growth trajectory is undoubtedly set to go green.

Source: All Africa


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Tanzania’s unique park where tourists overflow over well conserved glaciers

For a tourist climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, some of the breathtaking tourism attractions feature is the permanent glaciers on the Mountain peaks.

Strange as it may sound, some tourists and researchers walking to the roof of Africa would like to know why the white capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro is just 300km from the equator, yet glaciers exist! Explains Chief Park Warden for Kilimanjaro National Park, Erastus Lufungulo.
He said under normal circumstances its location near the equator and permanent snow cover throughout the year is a wonder to many tourists because one does not expect to find glaciers on the Mountain which is just 300km from the equator where   temperature is usually hot.
As a result he said there have been a big number of tourists traveling all the way from Europe, America and Africa just to see and enjoy the glaciers.
Despite this uniqueness and the role the glaciers play to attract tourists, yet increased human activities at village, district, regional, national and international level have severely affected the glaciers causing it to shrink.
The mountain forest has been subjected to logging of indigenous trees for construction purposes, charcoal, fires, mushrooming of squatters and unsustainable agriculture which has partly contributed to the receding of the glaciers.
“Unlike the past, currently, Kilimanjaro is very populated. For example, Moshi District population density stands at 240 per square km, which means there is very high demand for land,” he said.
“Warmer global temperatures, increased industrial activities and green houses effect have also partly contributed to climate change which in turn is causing the shrinking of the mountain glaciers.
According to the Chief Park Warden, glaciers depended very on the natural and conserved surrounding environment. In the past, the air moisture from the Ocean would move horizontally through the mountain forest towards the peak of the mountain.
This caused regular rains and snow that would accumulate on the mountain peaks, keeping the glaciers in its natural form.
Moshi, Marangu
Chairman of Kisangesangeni village, Kahe ward, Moshi District, Gerald Mlay and a villager Joyce Mushi together with residents of Marangu Arisi village near the mountain, explained that in the past the mountain forest was intact.
They said Marangu would be filled with snow and at times they would use sharp objects to rub out the snow spread on the house walls.
“It was too cold here, snow everywhere covered the thick forest, but we started experiencing drought some 20 years ago due to increased deforestation.
Currently the rains are unpredictable and in order to increase food production, one has to dig borehole for irrigation during absence of rains which is very expensive,” said Mlay .
Research findings
According to Lufungulo, a research conducted by the Department of Geosciences of the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the United States of America has revealed shrinking of the glaciers.
He explained that the research findings showed that Kilimanjaro glaciers began shrinking towards the end of the 19th century-prior to the first ascent in 1889 from what was likely their greatest extent of the Holocene epoch.
He said that according to the research, the total ice covered area dropped nearly 90 percent from approximately 20km2 to 2.5km2 in 2000 over the next nine years the glacier area shrank by another 30 percent.
Satellite imagery reveals the best estimate of ice area in June 2011 to be 1.76 km2. Glacier shrinkage will almost certainly continue, and Kilimanjaro could be without glaciers within several decades.” concludes the research findings.
Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA)
Commenting on the shrinking of the glaciers, Professor Clavery Tungaraza from the faculty of Science at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) who has conducted a research on the shrinking of the glaciers said that the shrinking of the glaciers is to a large extent contributed by global warming.
Warmer global temperatures, air and wind that pass through the top of the Mountain from other parts of the world have also played a big part.” he said.
Prof Tungaraza said it is a responsibility of everybody, institution, and every country to play its part in the restoration of the Mountain Glaciers.
Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG)
The Executive Director for Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) Charles Meshark said climate change is definitely responsible for the loss of glacier ice mass on Kilimanjaro.
 “I believe deforestation and forest degradation at the foot of the mountain is a contributing factor to slow disappearance of glaciers of Kilimanjaro Mountain. The drivers of deforestation include harvesting timber, wildfires and livestock grazing in different areas, with total impunity,” he noted.
He said that changes in the local vegetation around Kilimanjaro, which has lost much of it’s forests, may have affected the cloudiness and amount of snow that falls on the mountain. However, scientists believe that warmer global temperatures have had a bigger impact on the rate at which its glaciers are melting.
Whatever the reasons, if Kilimanjaro is to lose its snowy top, the repercussions would be extremely serious. Kilimanjaro glaciers are essential to the survival of the local villages. They supply drinking water, water to irrigate their crops and produce hydroelectric power; never mind the blow the loss of the snow-cap would affect tourism, he said.
For his part, Former Director of Forestry and Beekeeping division of the Ministry of Natural Resource and Tourism Dr Felician Kilahama said that the shrinking of the glaciers is due to global warming, which is a result of negative impacts of climate change.
Dr Kilahama said experiences show that temperatures globally have been on the rise because the atmosphere is filled with undesirable gases of Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as a result of increased refrigeration, air conditioning, and similar applications.
The greatest contributor of global warming is carbon dioxide generated from industrial production using fossil fuels, increased transportation activities also heavily relying on fossil fuels.
In Africa and other developing countries climate change reports indicate that most of the carbon dioxide is due to unsustainable use of natural forests.
Deforestation and forest degradation due to various human activities cause carbon dioxide emissions globally estimated to be about 23 percent of total global carbon dioxide emissions.
Besides USA and other developed countries, countries like Brazil, China, India and South Africa are nowadays noted to contribute significantly to carbon dioxide  emissions; adding additional threats to global warming.
He suggested that there is a need to seriously regulate and stop deforestation throughout the country saying this will happen only if there shall be a strong political will.
He also said that there is a need to expand conservation efforts and the global political leaders must agree to significantly reduce Carbon dioxide emissions.
Why concerted efforts are needed to conserve the Mountain
According to the Chief Park Warden, apart from glaciers that attract tourists, Mount Kilimanjaro provides direct and indirect socio-economic and cultural values to the surrounding communities, Tanzanians, neighbouring countries like Kenya, Africa and the world at large.
Tourism attraction
The Park is endowed with diverse varieties of attractions ranging from terrestrial wilderness to permanent glaciers on the Mountain peaks.
The chief park warden said that there are three peaks namely Kibo, the highest peak (5,895m), which is covered by snow throughout the year, Mawenzi (5,149m) and Shira (3,962).
Being the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro attracts visitors from all over the world said Chief Park Warden.
The number of tourists hiking Mount Kilimanjaro has been increasing in recent years although in 2013/14 the number decreased.
For example, he said that in 2009/10, the number of non residents were 41,213 where as residents were 2,974. In 2010/11 the number of non residents were 49,515 where as residents were 3181. In 2011/12 the number of non residents were 54,320 where as residents were 3,136.
He further said that in 2012/2013, the number of non residents were 51,835 where as the residents were 3,718. In 2013/2014 the number of non residents were 48,813 where as the residents were 2,021.
Provision of social services
Besides tourism attraction, the Mountain is famous water catchment for both Tanzania and Kenya. Forest belt forms the major source of water flowing from Mount Kilimanjaro.
He said that this benefits human population for domestic use, irrigation agriculture, industrial activities and for generation of hydroelectric power.
Citing an example, the Chief Park warden said that the Pangani River is one of the Tanzania’s largest rivers drains water to the hydropower plants.
He named the plants as Nyumba ya Mungu (8MW), Hale (17 MW), and Pangani falls (66 MW) which generates about 20 percent of Tanzania’s total electricity output.
He further explained that water from the forest supports traditional furrow irrigation systems for coffee and banana plantations in densely populated area with over one million inhabitants in the southern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.
He named other benefits as conducting research studies, provision of employment to TANAPA workers, tour guides, porters, and hoteliers among many others.
Efforts by Kilimanjaro National Park to address the situation
According to the Chief Park Warden, in recent years, the Park in collaboration with the government has put in place comprehensive plans and strategies that have started bearing fruits.
Smoking out the poachers and cattle
The Chief Park Warden explained that most poachers in Kilimanjaro National Park are those looking for forest products. However, wild animal poachers are in the west at a game controlled area in the boundary with Amboseli Park in Kenya.
“This poaching is trans-boundary; some poachers come from Kenya hunting the Elephants, Buffaloes, Giraffes, and Antelopes. They hunt Elephants that migrate from the dry areas of Amboseli in Kenya following water in Kilimanjaro National Park,” he said.
He said that Kilimanjaro National Parks in collaboration with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) have launched intelligence system of exchanging information and they meet once every year to assess the situation and put new strategies.
He also said that the Park in collaboration with the Kilimanjaro Regional Authorities launched regular patrols to smoke out the poachers in the forest. Citing an example, he said that in 2012/2013, KINAPA’s patrol team arrested a total of 426 poachers.
“During the same period, we arrested a total of 2239 timbers, 94 ordinary wood saws and 5 chain saws. The Park also arrested and smoked out 102, Cows, 23 Goats and 27 Sheep.”
In 2013/14, the park arrested 337 poachers, 105 ordinary wood saws, 3 chain saws, 755 timbers, 45 cows, 22 goats, and 46 sheep
“During the operation, the regional commissioner Leonidas Gama gave us a very big support. We also work closely with law enforcement organs such as the police, the court and government state Attorneys,” he revealed.
Community participation
Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) Outreach Programme: This involves provision of social services by the authorities while local communities support conservation through community policing and intelligence to counter illegal activities such as poaching.
To enhance community participation, TANAPA conducts conservation education and awareness campaigns to the local communities.  This makes the surrounding communities part of the conservation of the Mountain.
The Park’s Outreach Programme warden, Charles Ngendo explained that the Park established community outreach department where the Park is conducting regular training on conservation education of the Park.
“If we have good cooperation with the adjacent communities it is easy to win their support and dissolve some conflicts that arises between the Park and the surrounding communities,” he added.
About community projects
According to Ngendo, the projects are initiated by the communities themselves according to their preference. He said that they are bottom-up approach.
In realising this goal, seven percent of the recurrent budget is set aside to support different community projects. It is like corporate social responsibility,” he said.
In these projects, KINAPA contributes 70 percent and the community 30 percent of the total cost of the project. “Communities contribute some amount so that they don’t perceive KINAPA as a donor agent but feel a sense of ownership and for sustainability of the project” he said.
He said since the programme started in early 1990’s, the Park has supported a total of 120 different projects ranging from construction of classrooms to health projects in Kilimanjaro and Arusha regions. Districts supported include Hai, Moshi Rural District, Rombo, Siha and Longido.
The views of the government
The Chairman of Permanent Parliamentary Committee on Land, Natural Resources and Environment James Lembeli said that conservation should be given first priority because that will attract more tourists in the Park.
“Everyone should play his role in the fight against poachers, there should be no politics in this issue because without conservation there shall be no tourists” said Kahama Lawmaker.
The Minister for Natural Resource and Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu explained that as the Ministry plans to rebrand tourists attraction, conservation of Tanzania National Parks is a must.
He explained that the government is determined on this matter and will continue working with local communities and the international community to adequately implement its anti-poaching drive in its different national parks.
Source: IPP Media 

East African Countries Move to Adopt Renewable Energy Technologies

The East African region is leading the continent’s charge to embrace renewable energy, including solar, geothermal and wind power.