APA-Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) Africa must swiftly harness its rich mineral and natural resources to drive a clean energy revolution and accelerate sustainable development amidst the current climate crisis, the Acting Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Antonio Pedro, has urged.
“Africa is a solutions powerhouse for saving the climate,” UNECA Sunday quoted Pedro as saying at the in Nairobi, Kenya, ahead of the inaugural Africa Climate Summit to take place from 4-6 September themed: Driving Green Growth & Climate Finance Solutions for Africa and the World.
Pedro pointed out that Africa has abundant renewable energy resources, including 40 percent of the world’s solar irradiation potential, making it a great location for advancing green hydrogen.
Already, multiple low-carbon hydrogen projects are in development in Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, and South Africa. Africa is also rich in cobalt, manganese, platinum, lithium, and copper – critical minerals for producing batteries and other green transition products.
The drive toward achieving net-zero emissions is expected to trigger a 40-fold increase in lithium demand and a 25-fold increase in cobalt demand. Furthermore, Africa is home to rich natural capital, such as the Congo Basin which contains some of the largest tropical rainforests in the world.
Pedro said that using nature-based sequestration alone, African countries could provide up to 30 percent of the world’s sequestration needs. A key challenge, however, was in “effectively and sustainably harnessing Africa’s abundant resources for the benefit of its people.”
“To mobilize the necessary funding, a paradigm shift is necessary,” said Mr. Pedro, emphasizing that Africa’s renewable and non-renewable resources were assets for mobilizing climate finance and investment.
“The ecological services provided by Africa to the world need to be monetised through carbon markets and other innovative instruments including debt-for-climate swaps,” he added.
Studies show that African countries could mobilize up to US$82 billion annually by participating in well-functioning carbon markets. Besides, more income could be generated from value chains around non-renewable resources such as critical minerals crucial for battery production.