AfDB approves 6 climate finance readiness projects in 2015

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The African Development Bank selected in 2014 22 proposals of climate finance readiness projects for appraisal. They were selected out of 362 proposals received after a first call of proposals mid-2014. 6 of the 22 proposals were retained.

Kurt Lonsway, AfDB Manager for Environment and Climate Change, made the disclosure on the eleventh day of the COP 21 in Paris when he featured on a high level discussion panel on advancing Africa's 'readiness' for climate resilient, low carbon development and green economy. Lonsway said the Bank recognises the importance of helping African countries transition to green economic pathways amidst the negative effects of climate that most countries are grappling with.

"In 2014, with the help of the German government, we established the Climate Development Fund aimed at helping countries with adaptation and facilitating a green growth path," said Lonsway. He however pointed out that due to the observed high demand for funds, the Bank is looking at expanding the portfolio into a trust to open up investment opportunities from international partners - a feat he said would subject countries to more rigorous processes that require readiness to access.

Despite progress to scale up climate finance globally, the amount of climate finance flowing to the African continent remains way below estimated needs - just about 4% of the total available climate financing portfolios. The question is therefore how to increase Africa's access to climate finance by addressing some bottlenecks that exist, to help the continent's transition toward climate resilient, low carbon development and green growth.

Among a few countries in Africa that recently got accredited to Green Climate Fund (GCF), is Rwanda. Rose Mukankomeje, Director of the Rwandan Environmental Management Authority said perseverance and negotiation were key elements to the processes required for accreditation. Quoting her former Minister of Education, Mukankomeje said: "In life, you don't get what you deserve, but what you negotiate for". With this, she encouraged other African countries not to fear the processes as perception maybe different from reality, saying "If Rwanda has been accredited by the GCF; it is possible for other countries to get accredited as well." She nevertheless pointed out that Africa has to put in place proper measures to hold its representatives on the GCF board accountable.

And in reacting to this position, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) agrees that there has to be more accountability from those representing developing countries on the GCF board. "Our advice to GCF board members representing developing countries is that they should put Africa's interest first. They are there not to represent themselves but the continent's interests", Sam Ogallah of PACJA said.

Ogallah also advised African countries to apply for climate readiness funds adding that lack of capacity to access the funds is not entirely the fault of the GCF board. "Why are countries not applying for the climate readiness funds? This money is there waiting to be utilized for capacity building and it is up to country focal points to wake up and do the right thing", he added.

Contributing to the debate on the panel, GCF Senior Advisor David Craig emphasized that the guidelines used by the GCF were created by the countries themselves, and that they should not be seen as a barrier to accessing funds but rather a process of ensuring transparency.

Others at the event included Axel Olearius, Director of Climate Policy Support Programme at the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) who spoke on GIZ's work in ten countries supporting capacity building programmes on readiness for climate financing, and Kenya's NETFUND, Phyllis Ombonyo, who highlighted the importance of policy and national planning strategies as key elements of readiness.