By Elias Mhegera – On the 23rd of November 2015 the East African Community (EAC), Konrad-AdenauerStiftung (KAS) and ForumCC jointly convened representatives from the East African Community’s Member States to a one-day conference at the Mount Hotel in Arusha.
Speaking to shout-africa.com was Ms. Stefanie Brinkel coordinator for Climate Change at the KAS; she said the main theme of discussion was on “Climate Change, Renewable Energies and Sustainable Use of Natural Resources in East Africa – The Role of Climate Finance”. The discussions of more than 20 experts were in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
Climate finance refers to local, national or transnational financing, which may be drawn from public, private and alternative sources of financing. This is fundamental to address climate change and vital for a broad implementation of mitigation as well as adaptation measures.
Tanzania was represented in the conference amongst others, by experts from the Vice President’s Office (VPO), Environment Division. The discussion centred on how to deploy financial resources effectively, and assist the involved parties to understand and assess the financial needs of the respective countries.
Moreover it addressed the issues of mobilization, administration and governance, as well as disbursement mechanisms and principles of the financial means. The meeting conducted a joint analysis and evaluation of the current climate finance architecture and its opportunities for use in East Africa.
This conference built on its first joint meeting in December 2013 which was meant as a kick-off meeting to discuss how collective action under the umbrella of the EAC can be strengthened in the future.
Presenting a paper titled Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in East Africa Gerard Hendriksen, spoke on Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) on energy which underpins progress on a large number of other SDGs. This is meant to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
He spoke on the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) objectives by 2030, which strives to ensure universal access to modern energy services doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency, doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix
Concerning the (SE4ALL) Africa Hub he said the African Development Bank (AfDB) Secretariat, Oversight and Operations Committee has the task of funding African Climate Technology and Finance Centre as well as other issues which strives to maintain sustainable energy fund for Africa.
In concluding his presentation he had this to say “we must increase the range of technical options, namely, mini hydro, solar, wind, biomass, diesel hybrid and battery storage, mobile phone towers etc.
…But this means an involvement of a private sector led development and knowing the challenges like high costs, few customers, and low incomes, but also regulatory issues like permits and tariffs and increase of donor support.” He said.
For his part Eng. Jules Kazungu, Senior Program officer in charge of Energy, Climate Change and Chemicals Management Rwanda Bamboo Organization (RBO), he said that fuels such as wood, followed by the transport sector (4 percent), industry (3percent), and public services (2percent).
He was presenting a paper titled Overview of Natural Resources and Renewable in Energy in Rwanda. He said some of the largest sources of Energy resources in Rwanda are hydropower, solar, methane gas, peat, geothermal, biomass and waste. However, the Government resources alone are inadequate to meet the high energy demands.
He admitted that the challenge is so huge given the fact that Rwanda’s economy depends mostly on agriculture which employs over 70 percent of the population. This then means the government has to design means of driving the country to middle income status and putting it on the path to meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Vision 2020 targets.
Speaking on the challenges of climate finance in the light of renewable energies and sustainable use of natural resources including the role of the private sector, Ms Lilian Awinja-Acting Executive Director the East African Business Council (EABC) said that there is a strong leaning towards development aid in efforts of climate change adaptation.
On local efforts she recommended the Republic of South Africa for her efforts, “In sub-Saharan Africa- only South Africa has made a strong shift towards renewable Energy with the ‘Renewable Energy Independent Power Procurement Program’ which uses an auction system. This program has reduced the national security supply constraint and it is driven by the private sector” she commented.
Rev. Prof Aidan Msafiri Climate Change Ambassador for Tanzania from the Mwenge Catholic University in Moshi said climate change has had destructive impact on agriculture, food productivity and security.
He associated this with prolonged drought spells as a result of increased mean annual temperatures and ever‐changing rainfall patterns in the past 10 years, to the extent that staple food productivity has substantially declined.
He highlighted that this is a significant agricultural vulnerability scenario. He added that according to the World Bank, “food crop production accounts for about 65 percent of the agricultural GDP of Tanzania, while cash crops account for only about 10 percent. Among food crops, maize is the most important, accounting for over 20 percent of the total agricultural GDP.
He mentioned other crops as rice, beans, cassava, sorghum and wheat. He added that in spite of Tanzania’s huge potential for agricultural irrigation, with the size of land available for irrigation estimated to be 29.4 million hectares, only about 450,000 hectares is being utilized. This is about 15 percent of the land available for irrigation farming.
Likewise Burundi has been facing similar challenges, it has introduced the concepts of green economy and green development refers to current trends in production and consumption, in order to secure sustainable development in the medium and long term, while preserving natural resources.
The green economy covers all socio-economic activities, directly or indirectly related to environmental protection. It takes into consideration the management of natural resources, development and utilization of new and renewable energy, adaptation and mitigation of climate change, risk prevention and management of non biodegradable waste.
The Burundian situation was presented by Ntahorwamiye Aime Claude whose paper was Climate Finance and the Use of Natural Resources and Renewable Energies in the EAC the Burundian Perspective.
But Celline Achieng’ from the East African Wildlife Society said climate financing might include finance that supports discrete climate activities but it excludes activities in which climate considerations are mainstreamed into traditional development assistance through a ‘climate‐proofing’ process.
She said climate financing might include some or all of the finance toward any development project that includes climate benefits. She was presenting a paper titled: Global Climate Finance Architecture-Principles, Criteria and Status Quo.
She said there have been good efforts in financing climate change related issues in attempts to reduce emissions, enhancing sinks of greenhouse gases and at reducing vulnerability, but also maintaining the increasing resilience of human and ecological systems to negative climate change impacts.
The climate change coordinator at the EAC, Brian Otiende who deals with the community’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said the average cost of climate change on African economies is estimated at 1.5 ‐3 percent of the GDP by 2030 and is that this is projected to rise.
The current warming could result to climate change adaptation costs rise to US$50 billion per year by 2050, despite international efforts keep global warming below 2°C this century, this is according to the second Africa’s adaptation Gap, namely the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Emissions Gap Report 2014, and the UNEP’s Global Adaptation Gap Report 2014.
The report says adaptation costs in developing countries cumulatively could rise as high as US$250‐ 500bn per year by 2050. Rwanda’s Ministry of Natural Resources (MINIRENA) has been approved as the National Implementing Entity (NIE) for the Adaptation Fund established under the UNFCCC.
While Andrew Masaba, senior economist, ministry of finance, planning and economic development, Republic of Uganda, said that Firewood, charcoal and crop residues provide almost all the energy used. However, fuel wood requirements have contributed to the degradation of forests, as wood reserves are depleted rapidly.
He also revealed that bagasse which are fibrous residue), are burnt in Uganda to produce electricity and steam in a cogeneration system. Biomass-based power generation in Uganda is increasingly becoming economical and cheaper than thermal power based on fossil fuels while solar power is also utilized fully due to plenty of sunshine throughout the year.
Presenting a paper on behalf of the Africa Partnership on Climate Change Coalition (APCCC) was its Executive Director, Edward Paul Munaaba. He said that Tanzania is experiencing an increasing scarcity of affordable, reliable, sustainable and efficient energy services particularly at household and institutional levels.
He challenged that this is a pre‐requisite demand for ensuring sustainable livelihood and enhancing socio‐economic development. He revealed that scarcity is mentioned to hinder development and significant realization of the implementation of development goals.
He called for the enabling of community productivity with an intention of creating a vibrant mini economy, improving social development. He admitted that while it is not possible in the immediate to-near-future for every household in rural Tanzania to have a light bulb, it is very possible for each community to have a Community Light Center (CLC).
He said such centres are important because community members can meet their needs provided by sustainable modern energy services powered by the Sun. He said such centres can be used for technical training to technicians’ business models training and for other selective trainings.