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A new climate action: Digital Decarbonization of the African continent


The African continent is one of the regions most impacted by the effects of climate change, and least capable to deal with them. The Global South in general, and Africa in particular, require capacity building and technology transfers to ensure their resilience to climate change, and this need has been clearly outlined in the Paris Agreement and the ongoing climate discussions.

Adding to this important element of climate action, the African Development Bank has provided a space to discuss the importance of technologies in tackling climate change during a side avent at COP24 on December 5. More specifically, it took a look at one of the most fast-developing sectors of our time: digital technology.

A fresh wave of technological innovation in the digital sector is deepening our understanding of the challenges of climate change, and at the same time providing us new ways to respond to them, with the digital revolution opening up pathways to new solutions.

Africa is also part of this digital revolution, explained Fauste Munyazikwiye, Deputy Director-General of the Rwandan Environmental Management Authority. The number of tech hubs in Africa is growing on a weekly basis across Africa, and great strides in data collection have been made. The African Development Bank has invested US$50 million in climate centers in the region to improve data collection, filling important knowledge gaps for several African regions.

“Although Africa has been catching up with the digital revolution, this type of rapidly developing technology needs collaboration, in order for countries to catch up and use it to their advantage, no single one country can do so on its own,” Sei-Joong Kwon Director-General of the Climate Change Bureau in South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained.

A key element of the UN climate discussions currently going on in Poland is how this technological exchange can be streamlined for vulnerable countries to be equipped with the necessary means to deal with climate change (discussed under article 7 of the Paris Agreement).

“The successes of digital solutions around the world for low-carbon green growth, as well as for better monitoring and climate resilience need further replication and adoption, both in Africa and beyond,”  Kwon added.

There are, however, specific pitfalls that have to be avoided when deploying rapidly evolving technologies. “Currently there are no recycle policies or collecting points for the growing amount of electronic waste,” stated Anthony Nyong, Climate Change and Green Growth Director at the African Development Bank. “More effective policy interventions, regulations and business models need to be developed, tailored to the African economies, to avoid Africa becoming another dumping ground for old technologies.”

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