The Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB), held in Ghana from 23 to 27 May 2022, focused not only on purely economic issues but also on climate change. Opportunity for the African Development Finance Institution to reiterate its commitment to provide better opportunities for the youth and women of the continent.
Africa, the main victim of climate change while emitting only 3% of greenhouse gases, should turn its climate challenges into opportunities to create green jobs for young people and women. With this in mind, the third knowledge-sharing event, held on the last day of the Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group (23-27 May) brought together participants around the theme: “Green jobs for youth and women in Africa after Covid-19”. They shared their experiences on climate change adaptation solutions, developed in Africa and the United States by the private sector. Ghana’s Finance Minister, Kenneth Ofori-Atta, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the African Development Bank, has developed Ghana’s strategy to create green jobs for the youth and women. “We have put in place the $1 million ‘Program Youth Start’, which will help us create one million jobs for young people and women,” said the Minister. The sectors concerned are: agriculture, solar energy, reforestation, agricultural transformation. For him, young people represent more than 70% of the population and must be an opportunity if African governments are to exploit their potential, by offering them better education, training and care. His counterpart from Rwanda, Dr Uzziel Ndagijimana, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, highlighted that Rwanda has committed to climate change adaptation and banned the use of plastic bags and non-biodegradable packaging materials in 2008 and has created its own Green Fund, a revolutionary and the largest investment fund of its kind in Africa. “We need to develop human capital – technical and vocational training, science and technology training, engineering – and set up guarantee funds for SMEs and companies owned by young people and women,” he said. He stressed that 70% of SMEs benefited from public guarantees to promote their emergence. “More jobs for young people means more money for the public purse,” he said.
Recalling that the green economy generates $13 billion in revenue for the United States and creates 9.5 million full-time jobs, the United States Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for the Middle East and Africa, Eric Meyer, said that the United States has incredibly succeeded in creating green jobs, which is enough to share this experience with African countries to support investments aimed at creating green jobs for young women and men in Africa. “Green jobs make 70% more money than polluting jobs,” said Mr Meyer. He said the U.S. government is encouraging the private sector to invest heavily in the green economy. “The government is giving the right signals through regulations that are favourable to green investments. President Biden has put the US on the path to a green economy including electric vehicles, green energy, etc. ”
Private Sector Engagement in Climate Adaptation
Yewande Adebowale, founder of Salubata Technological Innovations Limited, a company that produces customizable footwear from plastic waste under the “Salubata” brand (shoes that never wear out, in Yoruba language),” recalled the need to invest more in the private sector to face the challenge of climate change. Every “Salubata” shoe purchased contributes to the removal of more than 12.66 kilograms of CO2 from the environment, she said. However, she deplored the obstacles for young entrepreneurs to access financing: administrative burdens, regulations, and other difficulties. “Young people have talents. We should give SMEs access to financing and develop strategic partnerships, build the capacity of young entrepreneurs, and support African brands “.
Ecobank Ghana CEO Daniel Nii Kwei-Kumah Sackey said that the private sector was strongly committed to climate change adaptation and was funding adaptation projects. Ecobank Ghana is the only financial institution accredited by the Green Climate Fund in Ghana. It has received $20 million to finance green projects as well as support from the African Development Bank under its Women’s Access to Finance in Africa Initiative (AFAWA), through which the Bank released $420 million in 2021 and intends to release $500 million in 2022 to support women-owned businesses in Africa.
Patrick Verkooijen, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Global Centre for Adaptation, made the link between green growth and green job creation. He stressed that $15 billion in investments on adaptation in Africa will bring in $200 billion per year. Calling for the mobilization of finance for large-scale adaptation, he said the bank and the Centre have mobilized $3 billion for the Accelerated Adaptation Programme in Africa since COP 26 in Glasgow. Echoing this statement, Dr Beth Dunford, Vice President of the African Development Bank Group in charge of Agriculture, Human and Social Development, in her remarks at the close of the event, recalled that a dollar invested for adaptation could avoid later, 30 to 40% of expenditure compared to its effects. She thinks that we must put together a sustainable structure to start from incubation to the creation of real businesses for young people and women.