How Rwanda, Africa can finance the green growth agenda

Farmers in Gisagara make terraces as part of efforts to practice modern farming. File.

By Athan Tashobya –

Climate financing was perhaps the most talked-about issue in various environmental gatherings in 2016.

Some international environmental deals faced criticism and delays simply because stakeholders could not seem to figure out the approach through which they would solicit huge chunks of funds for green growth agenda.

Africa, according to several research findings, is regarded as the fastest growing economy on the globe. This comes with industrial revolution – which on the other hand has several negative implications on climate.

Experts say that it is imperative that such accelerated transformation embraces a green economy if the continent is to achieve global agenda, notably the Sustainable Development Goals.

Rwanda being one of the fastest emerging economies in Africa and on the globe – according to various reports -it requires more holistic approaches to promote greener development and transformation processes and climate resilience.

The rationale for all this is derived from the increasingly apparent adverse effects of climate change on human lives, livelihoods, social capital and physical infrastructure as well as over reliance on non-renewable fossil fuels, such as petroleum and coal.

However, this requires a big budget, which is not readily available due to various reasons, including lack of clear policies and guidelines and political will, among others.
One of the key focus for Rwanda’s green growth agenda in 2017 is to revise the current law to open up greater opportunities for resources mobilisation, according to Alex Mulisa, the Coordinator of National Fund for Environment and Climate Change (FONERWA).

Mulisa told The New Times that Rwanda has put in place policies that are guided by sustainable development agenda.

He cited the Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy (GGCRS) which has substantially informed the country’s development blueprint (EDPRS II), particularly priority 5 of the Economic transformation thematic area.

But this seemingly worthy footprint might not yield the expected outcome yet, at least on time, if implementation funds are not readily available.

Dr. Richard Munang, UN Environment Climate Change Coordinator for Africa, said funds should not be expected from anywhere else but from within.

“From the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on sustainable financing to the UN Environment Inquiry into sustainable financing to the 2nd Africa Adaptation Gap Report, there is consensus that Africa and other developing regions need to diversify climate finance sources beyond unpredictable international public sources,” Munang told The New Times.

He called on developing countries like Rwanda to implement a more sustainable financing model; a “composite resource mobilisation model that combines both domestic and international public and private finance sources.”

Munang described Rwanda’s FONERWA as “exemplary” of what developing countries, especially in Africa, should do to finance their green growth for sustainable development.

“FONERWA is exemplary and I believe many countries across the continent will follow suit. What is more encouraging is the portfolio of sectors in which these funds are being invested – agriculture, forestry, clean energy expansion, water,” he said.

“These are foundational sectors capable of unleashing clean industry in the catalytic agriculture sector and ensuring Rwanda simultaneously meets pressing socio-economic development priorities of guaranteeing food security, creating jobs, expanding and diversifying its economy while meeting climate objectives under the Paris Agreement.”

The fund for environment and climate change was established in 2011 to serve as a sustainable financing mechanism for the Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy.

This strategic policy framework that is translated into implementation and results has generated growing momentum for Rwanda to attract and access climate finance to date, Mulisa said.

Rubavu residents plant trees during Umuganda last year. File.

Africa’s potential

Climate change is real and Africa has to act now to address this matter before it is too late.

On how the continent can garner resources to finance the “green industrial revolution,” Munang said the answer lies in public resources, formulation of policies to re-prioritise the continent’s expenditures and devise new revenue sources.

“For example, based on an analysis provided by the 2nd Africa Adaptation Gap Report, African countries can domestically raise a minimum of $3bn annually by 2020 for adaptation actions. This can be through a series of dedicated national and continental level levies, cutting wasteful expenditures, and leveraging on diaspora remittances that exceed $40bn annually among other measures,” he said.

On private sources, Munang said Africa can unlock private sector financing for climate action through focusing policies to incentivise investment in catalytic sectors that can potentially offset carbon while contributing to socio-economic growth with a substantial return on investment.

“For instance, favourable feed in tariff policies were among factors that made Kenya attract €625mn investment in clean energy through the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project. This marked the single largest private investment in Kenya’s history. Wholesale commitment by Africa’s governments to ideals of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) enabled mobilisation of $7bn in less than one year,” Munang reiterated.

He noted that policies such as setting aside special enterprise zones or agro-industrial zones to further optimise potential of Africa’s agriculture can go a long way in creating enabling environment to attract private investment to build resilience in this crucial sector, hence finance priority climate action on the continent.

“Considering its potential to generate up to $1trillion by 2030, Africa’s agriculture is attracting significant private investment to climate proof it. As an example, the Africa Risk Capacity Ltd. has secured $55bn in private finance to insure Africa’s agriculture from climate shocks. This is private sector investment financing implementation of Article 7 on adaptation,” Munang explained.

Rwanda on track

According to Mulisa, FONERWA has so far disbursed about Rwf15 billion in various green growth initiatives across the country since its establishment.

This, according to Mulisa has already created commendable impact on the country’s vision to achieve SDGs.

He observed it is too early for the projects to report on impacts but current results should illustrate the key impact areas in the foreseeable future.

For example, Watershed and landscapes protected and rehabilitated about 13,000 hectares of terraces on landscapes and 12,000 hectares of watersheds, creating about 90,000 green jobs by end of September 2016.

This has increased agricultural productivity and incomes for mostly small holder farmers, resulting into many beneficiaries building resilience to climate change impacts in addition to other livelihoods improvement co-benefits, according to Mulisa.

Commenting on how a developing country like Rwanda, can reach green growth and sustainable development goal, UNEP’s Munang said that the country is already making commendable strides, but there is a need to prioritise investment to optimise productivity of key catalytic sectors.

“I think Rwanda is on track as it has shown with FONERWA,” he said.

Munang argued that the key is to prioritise investment to optimise productivity of key catalytic sectors for which a country holds a comparative advantage.

“That can meet both socio-economic development priorities and climate objectives. Policies and investments targeted at actualising sustainable agro-industrialisation powered by clean energy sources stands out as a catalytic area,” he said.

The continent holds the majority 65 percent of global arable land and 10 percent of its inland fresh water resources.

This gives Rwanda and indeed Africa a global comparative advantage on healthy ecosystems, according to Munang.

“On clean energy, Africa holds the best solar resource in the entire planet not to mention significant wind, hydro, geothermal resources.  By prioritising healthy ecosystems with sustainable agriculture, we can also help to combat climate change, reverse environmental degradation, which is costing the continent up to $68bn annually, fight desertification and stop biodiversity loss,” he added.

He noted that the creation of the Africa Ecosystems Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA), is a step in the right direction.

The assembly, which has branches in 40 countries across the continent, serves as the continental policy platform to foster and enhance access to renewable energy that can power agro-processing, and boost access to markets and nurture partnerships through branch formation in each African country.

Natural Resource minister Vincent Biruta gives his opening remarks during the forest landscape restoration meeting in Kigali last year. File.

Source: The New Times

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