Africa should harness its vast mineral reserves to drive economic transformation and accelerate sustainable development on the back of power poverty, the Acting Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, Antonio Pedro has urged, highlighting that the continent is well position to spearhead clean energy transition.
“The top priority for Africa is to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic transformation that delivers tangible impacts on job creation and poverty eradication while addressing the triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution,” Mr. Pedro, said in a video address at the 17th August opening of the 19th Ordinary Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The Ministerial Segment of the 19th Ordinary Session of AMCEN was held under the theme: Seizing opportunities and enhancing collaboration to address environmental challenges in Africa. Mr. Pedro reiterated that Africa was in the spotlight because of its rich mineral reserves which it must harness to tackle its development challenges.
“Africa therefore needs a deep rethink on how it addresses its vast development challenges if it is to meet the goals of Agenda 2063, the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and various national development goals, while positioning itself at the center of the global clean energy transition agenda,” Mr. Pedro said.
Home to up to one-third of global mineral reserves, Africa currently produces over half of the world’s platinum group metals, manganese, cobalt, and others. With the global demand for wind turbines, electric vehicles and other products that can generate electricity and transport people and goods without emitting C02, there is a projected huge increase in demand for lithium, cobalt, graphite, nickel, and copper by 2040.
Mr. Pedro said the Continent was uniquely placed to translate its mineral and metal endowments into tools for industrialization, economic transformation, job creation and electrification but cautioned that political will was needed to realize the Africa Mining Vision.
ECA has been working closely with member states and other stakeholders to assist countries maximize benefits from the ‘green’ minerals boom. For example, ECA and its partners are currently supporting the building of a regional Battery and Electric Vehicle Value Chain in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.
“Africa has the opportunity to shape itself for a compelling energy transition agenda, premised on its industrialization priorities, while positioning itself at the center of global decarbonization by harnessing its abundant clean energy resources to transform its critical minerals for regional and global electric batteries value chains, “ he said.
A green energy transition is essential for Africa, a region accounting for 80% of the 733 million people globally without access to electricity and 39% of the 2.4 billion people without access to clean cooking.
Highlighting the huge opportunity for Africa to tap into the carbon markets to drive investments to benefit local communities, promote energy transition and attain national commitments on climate change and sustainable development, Mr. Pedro lamented the continent’s low participation in the carbon markets. It has not harnessed the full potential of its resources, especially the largest carbon sinks in the Congo Basin, including the peatlands and rain forest.
This was a result of the lack of efficient carbon market instruments, unfair and unreasonable carbon prices, limited or absent legal and regulatory frameworks, and limited technical capacities, Mr. Pedro said.
The ECA has assisted the 16 member countries of the Congo-Basin Climate Commission (CBCC) to develop a regional carbon registry that allows the fast-tracking of relevant credits as well as the projects from which the credits have been generated.
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