UNECA – Green approach to closing Africa’s huge infrastructure gap has immense benefits

Addis Ababa, 23 October 2017 (ECA) – Following a green approach to closing Africa’s huge infrastructure gap can create public and private value with co-benefits across a diverse range of stakeholders and goals, says Linus Mofor, Senior Environmental Affairs Officer for Energy, Infrastructure and Climate Change at the ECA’s African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC).

In remarks at an event at the just-ended Global Green Growth Week 2017, which was held under the theme “Unlocking Africa’s green growth potential”, Mr. Mofor presented the Africa Climate Resilient Investment Facility (AFRI-RES) – a joint initiative of the ECA, the World Bank, the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank and the Nordic Development Fund, that is hosted in the ACPC, as an example of how infrastructure can be made greener.

He said AFRI-RES was put in place with the aim of strengthening the capacity of African institutions, as well as the private sector to plan, design and implement infrastructure investments that are resilient to climate variability and change in selected sectors.

“Thus enabling those investments to reap the resilience dividend,” said Mr. Mofor, adding such a facility can assist authorities to make good infrastructure investment decisions to ensure performance and return on investment in a changing climate.

He said greening infrastructure means ensuring resource efficiency to reduce the intensity of inputs and emission; compliance with environmental safeguards and standards to ensure environmental and social sustainability; and resilience to natural disasters, as well as weather and climate change and variability.

The event titled; “The What, Why and How of Making the Transformation of Africa’s Infrastructure Greener”, was organized by the ECA in partnership with the Global Green Growth Institute and Dalberg as part of the Global Green Growth Week 2017.

Unlocking Africa’s potential

In opening remarks on behalf of Ms. Fatima Denton, Director of the Special Initiatives Division of the ECA, Mr. Nassim Oulmane, Head of Green Economy and Natural Resources at the ECA, stressed the urgency to unlock Africa’s enormous potential for green growth to drive social and economic transformation to meet the development goals set out in the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

He said for this to happen concerted efforts among all key stakeholders were needed to tackle the historical and structural constraints holding back the continent, and to leverage growth towards a green economy trajectory.

Mr. Dauda Suma, Senior Industrial Advisor at the Global Green Growth Institute, speaking on behalf of Mr. Robert Mukiza, GGGI Country Representative in Ethiopia, said Africa’s rapid urbanization has presented both a dynamic opportunity and a challenge to Africa.

“On the one hand, urbanisation is predicted to deliver stronger economic growth rates for Africa. On the other hand, urbanisation also underlines the huge infrastructure gap in Africa, especially in energy and transportation,” Mr. Mukiza said.

He said the establishment of GGGI regional hub in Addis Ababa in the near future will strengthen its support to African countries to achieve green infrastructure successfully.


Mr. Jordan Fabyanske, Associate Partner at Dalberg Global Development Advisors, moderating the session and speaking on behalf of Dalberg, said; “More than half of the infrastructure the world will have by 2070 hasn’t been built yet, and the fraction is even larger in Africa.  We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure Africa’s infrastructure contributes maximally to more climate resilient, green and inclusive African economies.”

Partnerships, he said, are required to seize this opportunity, especially the resources and expertise of the private sector. 

“It also requires a shift in how we as development partners think and plan. It requires new tools for designing more holistic and integrated infrastructure solutions, improved measurement of the many co-benefits of infrastructure projects, and new means and methods of capturing the economic value of those co-benefits.”

 Mr. Gareth Phillips, Chief of Green Growth and Climate Change at the African Development Bank, said; “It is essential to ensure that we build assets which can continue to operate under conditions of changing climates but it is also vital to ensure assets can remain profitable in future policy environments.”

Deputy Director Mr. Ian de Cruz of Global Strategy and Partnerships at the New Climate Economy said changing global trends were creating new opportunities for economic transformation and green industrialization in Africa.

“African countries can serve as global leaders in pioneering these new economic transformation pathways,” he said.


Mr. Magnus Asbjornsson, Executive Director, Reykjavik Geothermal Ltd, said; “Africa has an incredible wealth of renewable energy resources, and we have seen huge appetite among private investors around the world to invest in clean energy on the continent. The bottleneck is to find projects that combine high quality sponsors, strong and genuine government support, a secure off-taker, a clear and stable legal framework and risk-commensurate returns.”

He praised Ethiopia’s “pioneering vision and wholehearted support that has led us to the verge of signing the twin 500 MW, US$ 2 Billion Corbetti and Tulu Moye geothermal projects, and we believe it will serve as an example of how private investment can be mobilized to make the continent’s infrastructure greener.”

Mr. Atnafseged Kifle Demeke, an advisor in the Ethiopian Ministry of Transport said for mass rapid transit systems to contribute to a climate-resilient, green and inclusive economy, the continent must break the vicious circle of private car use in urban areas.

The main objective of the event was to engage high level public and private sector leaders, experts, influencers and investors to deliberate and provide insights and key policy messages to inform and influence transformative thinking, planning and partnership for accelerated climate-resilient and resource-efficient infrastructure development in Africa.

Issued by:

Communications Section
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Addis Ababa
Tel: +251 11 551 5826
E-mail: ecainfo@uneca.org

Written by Reykjavik Geothermal

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