The fact that Climate Change poses challenges of survival and economic development makes it imperative for Africa to define its plan and come up with a vision that addresses its own peculiarities, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this Thursday at the Infrastructure Solutions Summit organised by the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC).
Speaking on Africa’s position on the transition from gas to renewable energy, the Vice President said, “we are in a peculiar position; this is why Africa needs to come in very forcefully to chart a different path. We are not just challenged in terms of global warming, but for us, it is also the existential challenge of just survival.”
It is the point the Vice President has been advocating for more that a year both at home and international forums. This issue was one of the high points of the Summit which featured a set of two Fireside Chats with the VP and the President of Ghana Nana Addo Akufo-Addo, anchored by BBC’s Nancy Kacungira.
According to Prof. Osinbajo, “there are several voices around the world and in Africa who are saying the same thing. I think that there is some change. The EU has categorized nuclear and gas as green investments, and they are saying they are going to need more investments in gas over the next 10 years so as to be able to meet their targets of 2050.
“They are leaving us room to say that we, in Africa, are going to be needing investments in gas in the next 30 years for us to be able to meet our targets.”
Continuing, the VP noted that “Africa first needs to come together to put out a vision that is ours for climate change or carbon neutrality by 2050, 2070 or whenever it is convenient.
“I don’t think that Africa has articulated the vision yet, but there are ongoing efforts towards that. We think that at Egypt COP27 (forthcoming climate change conference in Egypt), we will begin to articulate an African vision and initiative, because all of the decisions were initiated and taken by wealthier countries where they defined practically everything about how we respond to climate change. But our own peculiarities and challenges are different.
“We need to have access to energy, access to electricity just to be able to survive and create industry for the millions of people. So, Africa has an existential challenge and survival around our economies,” he added.
Justifying the case for a wholly African plan and vision on Climate Change, the Vice President said, “no country in the world has been able to industrialize using renewable energy and we (Africa) have been asked to industrialize using renewable energy when everybody else in the world knows that we need gas-powered industries for business.
“We need to have investments in fossil fuels. we need energy access for development. I am sure the force of the logic will make it inevitable for African leaders to see that it is actually the way to go.
“We actually need to create room for investments, not just in natural gas for export, but for cooking and for industry. So, I think that the sheer force of the logic of using gas to benefit our communities will make it inevitable for us to invest in fossil fuels.”
Responding to a question on infrastructure development, the Vice President said the Buhari administration is committed to the infrastructure development of the country.
According to Prof. Osinbajo, “we have a Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund in the order of a billion dollars for a start. We started with the seed fund of about a trillion naira.”
He said “I think we have key opportunities, and it may be impossible now; we might need to do more. For me, I think what we need to do will be more innovation.
“There’s a huge gap there, but I think innovation is what will play a significant part. For example, seeing the models that already exist, there is plenty of room for more improvements; (such as) insurance that has not yet been leveraged or used.”
Aside from President Akufo-Addo of Ghana, other speakers at the opening session of the summit were the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Kingsley Obiora; President of AFC, Mr Samaila Zubairu; President of the AFREXIM Bank Prof. Benedict Orama among others.
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