ADDIS - Rwanda, Ethiopia, South Africa, Tunisia and Mauritius were some of the few countries recognised on Tuesday for pursuing development strategies that focus on building green economies and structural transformation on the African continent.
A three-day conference opened in Addis Ababa by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, is aimed mapping out ways how African countries can achieve sustainable economic growth by creating social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks.
Zenawi noted that while Africa is not the major cause of climate change, it remains with a huge challenge of mitigating it because it directly affects the continent, including agriculture, which is the lifeline of African economies.
“As a result of global warming that has already happened, we have become more exposed to combinations of flooding and drought. The resource base of our agriculture is seriously threatened.
“We need to stop this and act quickly to stop or at least radically mitigate soil erosion. We need to improve the moisture retention capability of our soil, recharge our underground water resources and increase the flow of our rivers,” Zenawi said.
The meeting observed that Africa will need above US$30 billion to meet its ambitions to build green economies. However, the Ethiopian Premier highlighted that some of the urgent actions needed to avert the situation do not require huge resources, but the commitment of the people.
One of the major challenges hampering the continent’s green ambitions, including building green industries and renewable energy, is lack of enough resources to pursue these programmes into actions.
Rwanda was cited among the few countries that have adopted policy strategies that focus on long term, sustainable development bearing in mind the environment and ecosystem. Among the government programmes hailed at the meeting is the monthly community work (Umuganda).
Abdoullie Janneh, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) called on African countries to integrate the concept of the ‘Green Economy’ in the ongoing processes and national development plans and strategies, citing Rwanda as one of the countries that had managed to do so.
“African countries like Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco and South Africa, to mention but a few, are good examples of how the green economy could be used to create jobs, generate energy and aim towards carbon-free targets.
“In addition, governments also have a role in establishing policy frameworks that will prioritise investments in the green economy and create incentives to overcome negative externalities and encourage private actors to embrace the idea,” Janneh said
Rwanda was cited on many occasions as one of the few countries that have managed to pursue the right development path, and being on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as provision of social services to its citizens.