AfDB’s Response to Climate Change in Africa

07/09/2010
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Youssef Arfaoui   Energy Senior

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group is taking a lead in addressing climate change issues which are adversely impacting on the African continent. According to Youssef Arfaoui, a Senior Energy Expert and Investment Officer in the Bank’s Private Sector Department, the continent has real opportunities and potentials to respond to climate change, but the problem is that the countries are not effectively sharing information among themselves.  

Emphasizing importance of relevant information on the emerging climate change realities, Mr Arfaoui, noted that the AfDB was making great effort to ensure a clear understanding of its investment approaches and responses to climate change issues in Africa. He said that this was necessary to strengthen overall confidence in the Bank’s ability to deliver results on climate change, particularly among relevant stakeholders, including donor agencies, development partners, civil society organizations, public and private sector operators.

Mr. Arfaoui highlighted two main pillars of the Bank’s climate change strategy which revolve around mitigation and adaptation. On mitigation, he outlined the Bank’s wide experience in the field of renewable energy in Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Algeria and Tunisia. In Egypt for example, he cited the Bank’s energy projects noting that the country had a systematic programme of phasing out old taxis that increase carbon emission.

Other areas of major Bank Group climate change operations in Africa include geothermal, hydro, solar, wind energy investments. He further explained the compelling relationship between energy and environmental studies as well as their relevant assessment procedures in the Bank. Mr. Arfaoui stressed the Bank’s efforts to help African countries cope with the growing incidence of hurricane, desert encroachment, bush fires and erosion, among others.

“The Bank’s climate change strategy is a “holistic framework that goes hand-in-hand with renewable energy development, environmental improvements, as well as carbon credit investments,” he concluded.    

The development of renewable energy is an indispensable element to deal with the continent’s energy poverty, especially in rural areas. Through its public and private sector departments, the Bank Group has substantially increased its renewable energy investments in the continent. The promotion of energy efficiency projects and the provision of facilities for access to low-carbon technologies will be encouraged under ADF-12. These actions will include tapping Africa’s high hydroelectricity potential (13% of the world potential) of which only 7% has been exploited so far.

Adequate replenishment of the African Development Fund will enable the Bank Group to meet growing demand for investment in clean, renewable energy from borrowing member countries. Both the public and private sectors in Africa are keen to tackle the negative effects of climate change by investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency, to ensure a low carbon economic growth. The Bank has a rapidly growing pipeline of wind, hydro, co-generation, geothermal and solar power projects.

It is working with its clients to help them access climate finance via channels such as the Clean Development Mechanism, the Global Environmental Facility, and the Climate Investment Funds. These climate finance tools, when eligible, will at best finance a portion of the needed costs to make these projects happen.  ADF resources and other co-financing solutions are essential to take the renewable energy projects forward while keeping them consistent with the affordability threshold required in low-income African countries.

Mr. Arfaoui has extensive knowledge and experience in the fields of renewable energy application, project design, and planning, economic and financial analysis, acquired during his 18 years involvement in the sector.


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