Regional Coalition Launched To Push Green Economy Agenda

The East African region is making a deliberate effort to transition the economies of Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania into the sphere of the green economy under the stewardship of Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE), a Ugandan Think Tank.

In this region, ACODE has teamed up with the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR) in Rwanda, Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) and Research on Poverty Alleviation (REPOA) in Tanzania to launch the Green Economy Coalition – East Africa Hub (GEC-EA).

The GEC-EA, hosted by ACODE, is an extension of the globalized Green Economy Coalition (GEC), which has been formed to establish a sub-regional knowledge and action space that connects green economy and natural capital agendas across the three East African member countries.

The executive director of ACODE, Dr. Arthur Bainomugisha, in an interview with Earthfinds at the launch, explained that the Coalition is going to help countries put in place legal, policy and institutional frameworks that will help them transition to a green economy.

Economies That Value Nature

He explained that by green economy, they mean a fair, inclusive economy – one that caters for the future. “When we say green economy, we mean economies which understand that the planet has limits and can revolt because of climate change problems. And that revolt can manifest or is manifesting in a draught, bad rains (El Nino), shrinking rains and disappearing rivers like River Rwizi. In West Africa Lake Chad is disappearing” he said.

In the five years, GEC has been implemented in Uganda, Mr. Bainomugisha says there have been achievements recorded including the finance ministry greening the budget and practising natural capital accounting. Because of GEC efforts, parliament passed the climate change law among other regulatory regimes they are putting in place to facilitate the green economy transition. The government now has bought it, he said, revealing that now policymakers believe that climate change is real. Uganda cannot do it alone hence the necessity to bring on board the neighbours.

The Right Regulatory Frameworks Good

According to presentations made by representatives from Rwanda and Kenya, governments there are making progress – they have over the years put in place policies and frameworks that will make the transition to a green economy much easier.

Mr. Joseph Kagabo of IPAR says things like the banning of plastic carriers, planting of trees, the establishment of the green fund and greening of politics are good strides made by the Gen. Paul Kagame-led country which has in the recent years entertained great admiration for its economic successes.

In Kenya, Mr. Joshua Laichena from KIPPRA underscored the transitional progress being registered there considering that the country is 80% semi-arid and the nation’s Vision 2030 captures and is working on some of these areas of interest. We have good laws, what we need is to implement them, Mr. Laichena stated in a streamed presentation at the launch.

There Is Need For Targeted Reforms

Mr. Ronald Kaggwa who works with National Planning Authority in Uganda as Manager for Production, Trade & Tourism Planning noted that a macroeconomic way of doing things is fundamental if you are going to achieve the green economy goals. Also, Mr. Kaggwa notes that there should be reform to put in place healthy fiscal and monetary policies.

He adds that there should be deliberate intentions for both government and the private sector to invest in sectors like agriculture with high green growth.

The country programmes director, Green Economy Coalition, Mr. Stuart Worsley encouraged member organizations to engage each other, experiment and learn what works and what doesn’t work. “Get citizens to act; if citizens are with you, no one can stop you,” he said.

The Green Economy Coalition is the world’s largest movement committed to accelerating the global transition to green and fair economies. And with the launch of the GEC-EA, Local Green Enterprises (LGE) in the three East African member states join 53 other countries across the globe.

Three Steps For Africa To Combat Climate Change

With hopes for countering global warming pinned on progress at the upcoming COP27 UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt, a new report from the Africa Finance Corporation, Africa's leading infrastructure solutions provider, sets out the continent's stance by balancing the need for emissions reduction with critical development imperatives.

The report, Roadmap to Africa's COP: A Pragmatic Path to Net Zero is set within a context where Africa has borne the brunt of the most devastating impacts of climate change, while contributing little to global emissions. This low carbon output reflects Africa's crippling energy deficit which has stymied industrialization and economic development. Africa, therefore, needs a realistic agenda for addressing climate change which allows the region to also continue advancing its industrial base.

The report argues that, while cutting emissions is vital for the more developed and highest polluting wealthier nations, there is a more limited universal impact to be gained from reducing the far lower emissions of sub-Saharan Africa. The report concludes that African nations will drive a far greater effect in combatting global warming by focusing instead on three significant areas of change.

Localize

According to the report, Africa must focus on developing local industries by putting processing and manufacturing at the centre of sustainable circular economies. Doing so will eliminate emission-spewing shipments of Africa's minerals and other commodities to Asia for manufacturing and processing, only to be shipped again as finished goods to consumer markets.

Achieving this objective requires closing Africa's energy deficit. While renewable sources are the ultimate goal, in the near-term Africa must exploit its abundant reserves of natural gas. Since much of Africa is already at net zero, such development can be achieved without contributing substantially to global carbon emissions, while channeling harmful gas flares from oil fields and reducing the use of more polluting fuels such as coal, diesel and firewood. Resultant job creation and economic growth will enable African nations to invest further in renewable sources.

Especially important is creating local manufacturing of the components of renewable energy technology. It is critical for these metals to be mined in such a way that minimises further pollution and for resource-efficient sustainable mining techniques to be combined with ecosystems fostering local production centres.

Re-build

Africa is the most exposed region to the ravages of global warming largely because its infrastructure is ill equipped to withstand climate shocks. Without intervention, the cost of structural damage caused by natural disasters in Africa will increase to US$415 billion a year by 2030 from between US$250 billion to US$300 billion now, according to the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The continent needs strong and resilient building — to re-build ocean and river defenses, and infrastructure in transport, construction, electricity grids and off-grid energy, which will in turn help the development of sustainable mining and the circular economies that drive growth and job creation, according to the report.

Finnovate

Key to effecting change is ensuring that Africa-based institutions such as the AFC get access to essential climate funds through financial innovation to support resilient building and investment in localised mass-scale manufacturing and processing. Financing is also needed to help preserve Africa's vast carbon sinks, which absorb more carbon dioxide annually than any other region's rainforests but are being depleted by local populations for firewood for cooking and heating.

Working with development finance institutions, governments and institutional investors, AFC's many projects over the course of 15 years demonstrate that it is possible to mobilise financing at scale through crowding in private sector investment. Through leveraging financial input from governments and NGOs, we have the tools to de-risk climate investments and offer strong returns to incentivise funding from institutional investors. These efforts can help ensure that capital flows to the frontlines of the fight against climate change—Africa.

Bank Rewards Schools With Best Ideas In Climate Innovation Challenge

Mengo SS won the inaugural Standard Chartered Bank Uganda 2022 Climate Change Innovation Challenge beating four other schools that made the top five.

The bank in partnership with ECOTRUST rewarded the schools at an event which took place at Gayaza High School.

Each of the five schools that finished in the top five each won a prize of $1,000 (Shs3, 741, 000).

Six other schools – Uganda Martyr’s H.S Lubaga, Kololo SS, Ndejje SSS, Bishop Cypriano Kihangire, Nabisunsa Girl’s School and Mbogo College – which didn’t make the top five each received a certificate for their participation and UGX 400,000 as seed capital.

The Climate Change Innovation Challenge is one of the Bank’s environmental conservation initiatives. It was launched on 21st June 2022 at Old Kampala SS with thirty secondary schools in the Kampala Metropolitan Area participating.

The participating schools were tasked to use their critical-thinking and research skills to come up with innovative solutions to environmental issues affecting their communities. The shortlisted school teams were then invited to the pitching event and were each given 10 minutes to present their action plans infront of a panel of judges.

The judges looked out for clarity, implementation framework, scalability of the presented environmental conservation projects, impact of the intervention, budgets, writing quality, presentation skills, originality, teamwork and responses to the judges’ questions.

Uganda Will Need Green Investments For Sustainable Economic Growth

By Rachael Amongin

Amidst the ‘green recovery’ drive, many governments are still prioritising environmentally unfriendly stimulus measures supporting fossil fuels to support poverty eradication and economic development which remain the key priorities for developing countries like Uganda.

Mr. Geofrey Ssemakasa a poultry farmer in Mukono district quit formal employment for agriculture and he has never looked back on the decision he made but instead is happy with what he has accomplished since he started poultry farming.

Like Mr. Ssemakasa, a number of people returned to agriculture and other natural resource-dependent activities, as a means of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, and this has put additional strain on natural resources, which were already stretched from rapid population growth, urbanisation, a refugee influx, and the drive for industrialisation. Increased demand for food and energy to sustain livelihoods and create income sources have added to the already high levels of unsustainable natural resource utilisation.

The World Bank reported that about 41 percent of Uganda’s land is now degraded, with an unsustainable rate of soil erosion and land degradation whose cost is estimated at about 17 percent of GDP; forest cover is declining by 2.6 percent every year, which is one of the highest rates of forest loss globally. Climate risks, including slow-onset change and extreme events, have exacerbated this natural capital degradation contributing to economic vulnerabilities and poverty, and will continue to do so in the future.

At a macro level, agriculture remains the mainstay of Uganda’s economy, supporting the livelihoods of over 70% of the population, most of whom rely solely on subsistence agriculture for their livelihood yet in addition to the post-COVID-19 crisis, Uganda also faced a locust invasion affecting crop production in parts of the northern and eastern regions. Added to this, was the impact of flooding and landslides that had a significant negative impact on Uganda’s food security situation. These natural disasters have affected the harvest and caused increased food insecurity in the worst-hit areas.

Looking at the budgetary allocations for FY 2022/23 of Shs. 628 billion for the environment and climate change sector, including funding to enhance resilience to climate change, restoration of degraded and protected ecosystems, and forest conservation, the allocated resources are inadequate. They lack consideration of environmental sustainability in the long run.

It has been observed that if the identified green growth interventions were fully implemented, they could provide a boost to economic activity, worth around 10% of GDP by 2040, deliver employment of up to 4 million jobs and reduce future greenhouse gas emissions by 28% and considering that Uganda is a natural resource-based economy where the majority of the population highly depends on natural resources for their livelihoods, it follows that the transition to a green economy will require a paradigm shift in the management of the natural resources.

The natural environment is humanity’s first line of defense against floods, droughts, heat waves, and other disasters thus the need to protect and work with nature to build resilience and reduce climate risks at all scales. Let us continuously advocate for catalytic investment in sectors like agriculture, tourism, and clean energy that have got high green growth multiplier effects.

Rachael Amongin, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Locusts, Climate Change & Oil Exploitation

On Sunday, February 9, 2020, media reports indicated that Uganda had been invaded by locusts. That same day, the 33rd African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government Assembly commenced in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The two-day meeting was held under the theme: Silencing the guns: Creating conducive conditions for Africa’s Development.

As the leaders deliberated on topics such as conflicts in the Sahel region, sustainable funding of Africa’s development agenda and others, scores of Ugandans panicked over the locust invasion.

A government inter-ministerial met to discuss measures to address the locusts, which the public was informed could eat food that could feed 2,500 people per year!

In addition, army officers and others were shipped off to Karamoja, the site of the reported invasion, to address the threat. Several other efforts were engaged in.

LOCUSTS AND CLIMATE CHANGE

While some of the above was ongoing, the AU Heads of State and others deliberated on matters that would improve the wellbeing of African citizens.

However, they did not discuss how African Heads of State in alliance with national and international agricultural, oil and other companies are contributing towards climate change and are exposing Africans to more potential locust invasions.

With the permission of African leaders, activities such as destruction of forests such as Bugoma in Uganda for sugarcane growing and exploitation of fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas) including in eco-sensitive areas such as national parks, lakes, rivers and forests in Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria among others are ongoing in Africa today.

Both the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation are drivers of global warming and consequently, climate change.

Yet climate change is part of the reason that Uganda, Kenya and other Eastern African countries are in the predicament they are in today. Moreover, this is a predicament that African countries are ill-equipped to deal with.

As pointed out by the UN Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, warmer cyclones caused by climate change have created the perfect breeding conditions for locusts. Per information from the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the warmer cyclones resulted in rains in Oman, which enabled the breeding of the desert locusts. 

The locusts invaded Eastern Africa thereafter and have caused serious damage. FAO estimated that 200 billion locusts invaded Kenya. The locusts, which eat their own weight in food every day, destroyed pasturelands which had only been rejuvenated after drought.

Further, the damage caused by the locusts in Somalia was so much so that the country declared a state of emergency after the insects damaged about 70,000 hectares of food supplies in the country and in Ethiopia.

Experience shows that when food and pasturelands, which are major sources of income for many households are destroyed, other impacts follow.  Incomes reduce, children’s education suffers as parents lack incomes to pay school fees, and even domestic violence due to increased poverty in homes is seen.

OIL AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Now, several countries in Africa including Nigeria, Angola, Cameroon Niger, Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and others are oil producers. In addition, several countries including Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Togo and others are planning or are undertaking activities to become coal, oil and gas producers.

The above countries argue that they need to produce coal, oil and gas not only to create jobs but to generate revenues to support their respective economies among others.

However, the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas is the biggest contributor to climate change.

As earlier noted, climate change has been cited as the cause of the biggest locust invasion to be seen in Kenya in 70 years and in 25 years for Somalia and Ethiopia.

To continue to exploit oil to exacerbate climate change is to put the lives of African citizens at risk. Moreover, poorer African states are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. African states have too few resources to manage climate change impacts.

Indeed, the Ugandan government’s response to the locust invasion in Uganda on Sunday, February 9, 2020, was a testament to this. The country had no standby expert manpower and equipment such as airplanes to spray the locusts. Communities in Teso reported that they resorted to making noise to scare the locusts away.

One may argue that oil revenues could be used to make African states climate-resilient. However, experiences from Nigeria, Angola and other oil-producing countries show that oil revenues are never used for the benefit of citizens. Instead, they are largely abused by corrupt government officials at the expense of citizens’ wellbeing.

In line with available evidence that says that up to a 75% of known fossil fuel reserves including oil, coal and gas must be left unexploited for the Paris climate target to be attained, African countries must consider leaving fossil fuels unexploited. They should invest in other economic activities such as agriculture, tourism and others.

Further, in line with the AU’s 2020 theme, African countries should demiltarise oil production and should stop attacking citizens that critique oil activities in Africa.

The writer is the Senior Communications Officer at Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO).

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