/ 4 September 2023

Climate finance and clean technology is the tune Africa must sing at the Africa Climate Summit

Safrica Climate Warning Un Cop21
According to Mohamed Adow, climate, energy and development provisions must be found that can rally behind Africa’s interests. (Photo by Rodger BOSCH / AFP)

The Africa Climate Summit is in full swing in Nairobi Kenya and Mohamed Adow, the director of energy and climate think-tank Power Shift Africa, says the summit must bring Africa a new alternative. Climate, energy and development provisions must be found that can rally behind Africa’s interests. 

“I hope our leaders can forge forward in a partnership that secures that,” he said. 

Adow told the Mail & Guardian that without clean technology and climate finance, there is no way Africa can join in and contribute to the just transition to clean energy.  

“What we need [global leaders] to do is share the finance and clean technology so we can play our part and help them solve the problem that they created in the first place. That’s justice”, he said. 

Adow said those responsible for the problem must take accountability.

“Africa needs to demand climate reparations. The historic polluter must be held accountable, climate action must be delivered on the basis of equity”, he said. 

Adow says that countries with the means must provide adequate finance and clean technology to afford Africa the opportunity to join in establishing solutions. 

As it stands, African countries need to raise an annual average of $124 billion. Currently, they are receiving only $28 billion a year. Africa is responsible for only about 4% of global carbon emissions, yet it is being hardest hit by climate change. 

Adows said it is in Africa’s best interest to have a just transition. “We will inevitably have a transition” and “be required to shift away from fossil fuel to renewables”, he said. 

The South African case

At the heart of the transition are people and communities. The move to cleaner energy can devastate communities, like in Komati in Mpumalanga where the power station was decommissioned for renewable projects.

With the town now barren and jobs scarce, many government ministers have criticised the transition.

This is not just a South African predicament but a continental one, says Adow. 

“South Africa, like many other African countries, is locked into a dirty energy future with a risk of stranded assets in the process of transitioning,” he said. “Stranded assets are assets that lose value or are not able to be used after an event. So, in this instance, it would be coal plants which will become stranded as renewables take shape.”

Adow says African leaders need to be careful not to compromise workers’ rights in the name of a transition. 

“We don’t want to take away the privileges that they have, including access to energy, in the name of a transition. So we need to think through and have a forward-looking plan that thinks about the long-term interest of communities and carries everyone along.” 

Adow urged African leaders to sing the same song at the Africa Climate Summit so that when it is time for COP28, Africa has a clear and strong message and position. The most important is climate finance.  

“For COP28 to be a success for Africa, climate finance needs to be delivered not only to help solve the problem but to adapt and deal with the irreversible impacts of climate change which is called loss and damage in the climate conversations,” he said.  

Lesego Chepape is a climate reporting fellow, funded by the Open Society Foundation for South Africa.