In 2015, the World Bank launched the Africa Climate Business Plan. The Plan marks a strategic effort to accelerate low-carbon, climate-resilient development in sub-Saharan Africa. A great success, the World Bank is now in its first stages of rolling out the Next Generation Africa Climate Business Plan, building off of lessons learned from the first installation. The new plan is ambitious, but necessarily so—with climate impacts on the rise and less than a decade left to achieve the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Africa must rapidly deploy climate-smart, inclusive development projects. The Next Generation Africa Climate Business Plan stems from the World Bank’s greater commitment to placing climate at the center of all development efforts. It works toward carving out green paths to prosperity.
A Continent in Crisis
By and large, sub-Saharan Africa has contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions. Despite this, it suffers some of the most devastating impacts of environmental challenges and changing weather patterns. The year 2019 was the third-warmest year ever on record in Africa.
A sample of 30 African countries found that two-thirds were warming quicker than the whole world on average. Poorer countries are more vulnerable to weather challenges due to the limited adaptive capacity of rural economies. Though Africa’s engines of growth are diversified, agriculture is still its largest economic sector. Agriculture makes up 15% of the continent’s GDP. It is highly climate-sensitive. Changing weather patterns and natural disasters like droughts and cyclones have directly impacted productivity.
Africa boasts a variety of climate types from arid to rainforest or temperate, so changing weather manifests differently in different regions. Effects can range from rising sea levels and coastal erosion to extreme floods, landslides and even desert locusts. These events threaten food and water security, as well as the overall socio-economic development of the continent. Changes in weather reverse development gains, undermining the health, safety and stability of communities. Climate-informed development is urgent; without it, an estimated 43 million additional people in sub-Saharan Africa could fall below the poverty line by 2030.
The Next Generation Africa Climate Business Plan is all about thinking ahead for the future, but this does not mean that the World Bank is not looking to the past for guidance. The new and improved Climate Plan is building on the successes of its predecessor, the original Africa Climate Business Plan. This plan supported 246 projects with more than $33 billion in World Bank financing over the course of its six-year tenure. As the largest financial sponsor of climate action in Africa, the World Bank plans to ramp up existing efforts and institute new initiatives as part of the Next Generation Plan. With the plan, it will work to cooperatively tackling changing weather and promoting development within African countries.
The Next Generation African Climate Business Plan is essentially a sustainable development blueprint with five Strategic Directions. These include:
- Food Security
- Environmental Sustainability
- Clean Energy
- Resilient Green Cities
- Climate Shocks
The plan also has two Special Areas of Emphasis including Climate-Informed Macroeconomic Policies and Green and Resilient Infrastructure. At its core, it aims to scale up climate resilience as part and parcel of development efforts to reduce poverty and grow economies.
The Plan in Action
Until recently, Adwoa Adezawa, a resident of the Cape Coast of Ghana, lived in a community entirely without power. However, Adwoa, along with thousands of other Ghanaians, could purchase a mini solar grid thanks to the $220 million Ghana Energy and Development Access Project (GEDAP) financed by the World Bank. GEDAP focuses on inclusive access to renewable energy through the deployment of off-grid solar products. The project includes subsidies to make energy more affordable. It also collaborates with local financiers like rural banks to support access to financing. Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal Sierra Leone and Togo have all rolled out similar solar programs.
Given that sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest energy access rates in the world—electricity reaches only around half of its people—such programs are critical. Efficient, affordable solar energy is a pillar of the Next Generation Africa Climate Business Plan. Furthermore, the World Bank has been scaling up such projects each year.
Other cruxes of the plan include outfitting cities with low-carbon urban planning approaches and promoting climate-smart agriculture. The World Bank already supports modern agriculture projects in Ethiopia, Niger and Zambia. Additionally, it currently works to target 28 million farmers to ensure food security across 20 countries. The World Bank aims to train farmers on climate-smart agricultural approaches and expand integrated landscape management to more than 60 million hectares. Overall, expectations have determined investments in new projects will reach $22.5 billion by 2025. Treating development and climate action as interwoven, interdependent goals, the World Bank is pushing for growth that not only minimizes environmental impact but actively corrects past and future trends of environmental degradation.
– Margot Seidel