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Remarks by Kevin Chika Urama, on behalf of President Akinwumi A. Adesina of the African Development Bank at the LPAA Focus on Energy, December 7, 2015, COP21, Paris.

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Your Excellencies, I bring you greetings from Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank. He is not able to join us today due to other appointments in Abidjan.

As he has underscored in his speeches at COP21, “Climate change has no borders. Africa, the least emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, now suffers the most from climate change. Multiple effects of climate change are destroying livelihoods, displacing populations, triggering rising waves of fragility, migration and conflicts. This is neither sustainable nor acceptable.

As noted by President Adesina, “Africa has been short-changed by climate change, and must  not be short-changed by climate finance”. Africa has much to offer the world in the battle against climate change, but fellow leaders at the Paris climate talks must also be prepared to do their bit.

This is where the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative comes in. As a transformative, Africa-owned and Africa-led effort, the Initiative is an inclusive effort to accelerate and scale up the harnessing of the continent’s huge renewable energy potential. It is set to achieve at least 10 GW of new and additional renewable energy generation capacity by 2020, and mobilize the African potential to generate at least 300 GW by 2030. The initiative shows how low carbon development strategies can be achieved, recognizing the critical importance of rapid expansion of energy access for sustained economic development and the achievement of the sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal #7 on energy, in Africa.

Africa is tired of being in the dark. Today, over 640 million Africans do not have access to electricity. Over 700 million Africans do not have access to clean cooking energy. Over 600,000 women and children die every year from indoor pollution. Africa’s per capita energy consumption averages only 162 KWh compared to the global average of 7,000 KWh. And Africa loses 3-4% of its GDP due to lack of energy… Lack of electricity has put the brakes on Africa’s industrialization. This is not acceptable.

To address this challenge, the African Development Bank will launch the New Deal on Energy for Africa – To light up and power Africa. Doing so in a climate smart way, will save our forests, reduce desertification, improve livelihoods for the 700 million Africans who depend on fuel wood and charcoal to cook. It will save lives of the 600,000 women and children who die each year from indoor pollution, and foster sustained economic growth. We can sustain fast economic growth in Africa and on a low carbon development pathway.

This is achievable. Africa has massive potentials for renewable energy deployment and energy efficiency measures. We must unlock this potential. As we do, we will also renew Africa, and help the continent to grow on a climate smart development path. This will be a win-win for African economies and the global community.

This is why the development of the Africa Energy Renewable Energy Initiative is a game changer for solving Africa’s energy and climate challenges concurrently.

President Adesina is delighted that the African Development Bank has been selected to host the independent delivery unit of the initiative, and act as its Trustee. We look forward to working closely with all partners to make this initiative a huge success for Africa.

We must not have low ambitions for Africa. To achieve a less than 2 degree development pathway, renewable energy and energy efficiency measures must form a significant share of future energy systems. And coordinated action is required to make this happen. We must act together to mobilize capacity, develop and deploy technologies, reform policies, and mobilize domestic and external financing to make this happen.

That is why the African Development Bank will launch a Transformative Partnership on Energy for Africa. As already announced by President Adesina, “Together with partners, including the World Bank, the African Development Bank will launch a Bottom of the Pyramid Energy Financing Facility that will provide access to clean cooking energy for 700 million Africans within five years: invest $12 billion in energy in Africa within the next five years to leverage $40-50 billion in investments into the energy sector, and triple its climate finance to $5 billion per year by 2020.

The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative will be one of the key deliverables in our collective drive to light up and power Africa in a climate smart way.

Excellencies, President Adesina calls for your support to the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative. Its successful launch is a key outcome of COP 21 in Paris – and now we must take it on the road outside Paris, to all of Africa – to impact the lives of the millions of Africans living in darkness and the thousands dying of indoor air pollution.

Let me close in the words of President Adesina at the launching of the initiative on 1st December 2015, “I can feel the energy in this Pavilion. It is renewable energy, as our hope and aspirations to light up and power Africa are now renewed… Let us rise up and deliver that hope for millions of Africans without electricity and clean cooking energy”.

Let us build a climate resilient, low carbon, energy efficient Africa. This is good for economic growth in Africa. This is good for climate mitigation in Africa, This is good for sustainable development in Africa. This is good for our common future.

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