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Interventions By Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, President, African Development Bank Group, UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit - New York, 23 September 2019


Your Excellency, President of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly,

Your Excellency, United Nations Secretary General,


Distinguished delegates,

This Summit is a pledging one for concrete actions to get us on a solid carbon neutrality by 2050 trajectory, while also building resilience to the adverse impacts of climate change in poor vulnerable countries, especially the Least Developed Countries most of whom are found in Africa. The African Development Bank, an institution that has been at the core of Africa’s development for over half a century, has three key pledges which we believe close the loop on this global quest:

(i): Raising Ambition on climate financeThe African Development will double its climate finance from current levels to $ 25 billion between 2020-2025. This investment from the African Development Bank will leverage additional US100 billion to unleash the continent’s low-carbon and climate resilient investments, with about 50% going for adaptation. Africa has for long been shortchanged by climate finance. I call on partners to remove all unnecessary obstacles to Africa’s access to global climate finance.

(ii): Building Resilience to Climate Disasters – The Africa Disaster Risk Financing Program. It is imperative that Africa develops financing options to insure investments and lives against climate risks. In an innovative partnership with the African Risk Capacity, the Bank is implementing the Africa Disaster Risk Financing Program for countries to mobilize USD 250 million for insurance premiums with a potential payout of about USD 1 billion from the reinsurance market by 2030. My call to action to all owners of capital - both private and public - is to join us in scaling up the Africa Disaster Risk Finance Programme to build resilience in Africa – I believe that is climate justice.

(iii): Desert to Power – Creating the World’s Largest Solar Zone and Energizing Development in the Sahel. The African Development Bank launched the Desert to Power program as an ambitious and innovative partnership-driven initiative to transform the Sahel and Sahara region through the deployment of solar technologies at scale to ultimately create the largest solar zone in the world. Desert to Power proposes to deliver access to electricity to about 250 million people and to develop up to 10 GW of solar generation capacity through a combination of on-grid and off-grid projects. This will accelerate the region’s social and economic development, from enhanced agricultural practices to upgraded manufacturing value chains, more opportunities for youth employment, and sustainable mitigation actions to combat desertification. The Heads of State of the Sahel G5 countries recently endorsed the initiative, its implementation roadmap and the set-up of a dedicated Taskforce. We call upon partner to join forces in support of the initiative.

(iv): Green Baseload: Powering Africa through Renewable Energy. The African Development Bank is fully cognizant that 21st century economic transformation in Africa cannot be powered by 19th century technologies like coal and heavy fuel oil. Industrialization cannot happen at the expense of our climate. Yet all African countries need firm, reliable and dispatchable power in their grids and the low-carbon options are limited and costly. We are therefore launching the “green baseload” programme under the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) to provide concessional finance and technical assistance to support the penetration and scale-up of renewable energy to displace fossil fuel generation including from coal. We are rolling-out this effort in 2020 on the back of strong commitments from several donor countries including Denmark, Norway, UK, US, Italy, Sweden and Spain. We encourage them, and others to join us on this journey, as we look to raise USD 500 million in contributions to SEFA to leverage up to ten times this amount in total investments.

(v) AFAWA: Fostering inclusive green growth in Africa. Africa’s economy is largely powered by SMEs and women constitute the majority of small-business owners. Despite their entrepreneurial dynamism, women-owned firms have fewer employees, lower-access to capital and lower revenues, profits, and productivity. This limits the potential of women entrepreneurs and hinders economic growth and poverty reduction needed to achieve the SDGs on the continent. To address these challenges, the African Development Bank created the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA), a pan-African programme with the primary objective of bridging the finance gap for women in Africa and releasing their entrepreneurial capacity and potential to drive low-carbon and climate-resilient development in Africa. AFAWA’s three-pronged approach to enhancing women investments through access to finance, capacity building and enabling environment has put in place a Continental Risk sharing mechanism to de-risk lending by financial institutions to women businesses across the Africa. This guarantee mechanism is envisaged to leverage billions in new private sector lending for women entrepreneurs in Africa in the coming years.


Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, those are the three catalytic initiatives we are committed to delivering to unlock Africa’s potential in the fight against climate change.

I thank you for your kind attention.

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