Africa has hardly contributed to the climate crisis, but is particularly affected by it. In Nairobi, demands are therefore likely to be made on the industrialised countries. But there is also great potential at stake.

Africa: Greentech potential super big – renewable energies have 50x potential

For the first time, a climate summit is being held that focuses primarily on Africa. The continent suffers greatly from the consequences of the climate crisis, but contributes comparatively little to climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions.
That is why African countries want to focus on the global financing of climate protection projects on the continent during the three-day summit starting today in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. The expansion of renewable energies and the diversity of mineral resources important for the energy transition are also to be discussed.

Even representatives from Germany

Kenya’s President William Ruto and the African Union are hosting the summit, and African heads of state as well as representatives of the United Nations, international governments, the private sector and non-governmental organisations are expected to attend.

Germany will be represented by Bärbel Kofler (SPD), Parliamentary State Secretary in the Development Ministry, and Jennifer Morgan, Commissioner for International Climate Policy in the Federal Foreign Office.

Climate change is clearly felt in Africa: the Horn of Africa is experiencing the worst drought in 40 years.

Millions are also suffering from food insecurity in the Sahel, which stretches from Senegal in the west to Djibouti in the east. Extreme weather events such as hurricanes and floods are becoming more frequent. Seven out of ten climate crisis hotspots, identified in a study by the non-governmental organisation Oxfam, are in Africa.

«Motivating other countries to follow their example»

The summit is an opportunity for the continent to «actively drive important solutions itself», said Kerstin Opfer, expert for energy policy and civil society in Africa at the environment and development organisation Germanwatch.

«If African countries can show that the expansion of renewable energies and simultaneous economic progress are possible, this would have the potential to motivate other countries to follow their example.»

African countries are demanding compensation from the industrialised countries, which have contributed massively to global warming, for the consequences of climate change that are already being felt today.

Expansion of renewable energies and simultaneous economic progress

Africa, the argument goes, is statistically responsible for less than four percent of global warming, but pays the highest price. According to estimates by the African Development Bank, climate-related natural disasters cost countries between 7 and 15 billion US dollars per year. By 2030, these losses could rise to 50 billion US dollars annually.

Pandemic and war displaced Focus

Africa therefore wants to remind the industrialised countries in Nairobi once again of their financial obligations – for example in the financing of climate projects in the global South. Since 2020, states have committed to raising 100 billion US dollars annually for this purpose.

The aim is to reduce emissions and finance projects to adapt to climate change. It has long been known that the industrialised countries have not met this target. Especially since the Corona pandemic and the war of aggression in Ukraine, money has flowed into other areas.

Demands for debt relief are also likely to play an important role at the summit. «The climate crisis can only be overcome if countries of the Global South are freed from their crushing debt burden and given budgetary leeway for future investments,» said Klaus Schilder, development finance officer at Misereor.

Renewable energies and mineral resources

In return, Africa has a lot to offer the global community: the continent has ideal conditions for the production of solar and wind energy and possesses mineral resources that are critical for the energy transition, such as lithium, copper, rare earths or silicon. In addition, there is enormous «natural capital» such as forests, arable land, water and marine resources.

According to a report by the think tank PowerShift Africa, Africa’s potential for renewable energy production is 50 times greater than the expected global electricity demand for 2040. Africa has «clean, renewable energy in abundance», says director Mohamed Adow. «But to unleash it, Africa needs funding from countries made rich by our suffering.»

The example of Kenya shows that it is possible to realise the potential. The East African country with 53 million people has set itself the goal of completing its energy transition by 2030.

Already today, more than three quarters of Kenya’s energy comes from renewable sources; in the next seven years, this is to rise to 100 percent. A few months ago, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) described Kenya as a «real climate champion».

Morgan: Federal government wants to bring in pledges

During the summit, Germany will advocate for a «significant acceleration of the expansion of renewable energies worldwide, a clear phase-out path from fossil fuels and strong partnerships – between Africa and Europe and also globally», said State Secretary Morgan.

According to the statement, the German government wants to bring in a number of pledges, including debt conversion for climate adaptation, hedging against climate risks and forest protection.

The summit is to end with a «Nairobi Declaration», which is to set important signals and goals, also for the upcoming world climate conference starting on 30 November in Dubai.