Rwanda, a small country nestled amongst a thousand green undulating hills, has been taking a cue from the rich nature that surrounds and sustains it.
Although its contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions is negligible, its vulnerability to climate change shocks risks stifling the remarkable economic and social progress the country has achieved in the past decade.
The consequences of extreme natural disasters, including frequent floods and droughts, dampen Rwanda’s prospects for sustainable growth. They also delay the government’s ambitious plans to improve the health and livelihoods of Rwandans.
A new diagnostic report from the World Bank, the Country Climate and Development Report (CCDR) for Rwanda, estimates that if no action is taken to address climate change, GDP would be around two percent lower on average through 2050 than it would be in a world without climate change, with similar reductions in levels of household consumption, exports, and government revenue.
Rwanda has been at the region’s forefront when it comes to putting climate at the centre of its development. The government has made concerted efforts to mainstream climate action into its strategies in order to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance adaptation — all while fostering a better, more prosperous, and more resilient future for its people.
It’s 2020 Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) outlines critical climate mitigation and adaptation measures needed to support the country’s low carbon and resilient national development ambitions.
The CCDR for Rwanda presents pathways that Rwanda could consider achieving its Vision 2050 and national strategies for transformation, green growth, and climate resilience — while prioritising actions that will enhance the impact of NDC investments and deepen the commitment to green economic and social transformation.
The cost of implementing actions in the 2020 NDC is high — the Government estimates it at $11 billion, or to spend 8.8 percent of the GDP each year through 2030.
Thus, the biggest hurdle Rwanda faces in implementing its innovative, green, inclusive, responsive, and growth-oriented development pathway is finding resources to finance these plans and strategies.
It is a challenge that affects a majority of countries in the region at a time when global climate action is stalling amid multiple crises — the conflict in Ukraine, Covid-19, surging inflation, and reversals in development.
The CCDR suggests a mix of resources: the government’s own, development partners, and the private sector to help balance the costs and risks. Therefore, one of the most urgent actions the government can take is to develop a climate-smart, private sector-friendly investment environment that helps balance investment projects with policy reforms and encourages the development of a green finance market.
The private sector and private investment have crucial roles to play in helping Rwanda achieve its climate and development goals. The CCDR explores how Rwanda could best engage the private sector across its economy, including agriculture, infrastructure, and urban development.
For example, blended finance can reduce perceived risks by investors looking to enter new markets, and eventually demonstrate the business case for sustainable private sector investment in the sector and the country.
These kinds of solutions are needed to scale up investments in human and natural capital, but also in water infrastructure and management, conservation agriculture, and sustainable forestry to mitigate emissions from, agriculture and land use.
At COP27, Rwanda will unveil its plans to launch Ireme Invest, a facility for private-sector green investments that will crowd in private-sector investment. Ireme Invest is a green investment facility that will support the private sector to access green finance and increase the private sector’s contribution to Rwanda’s response.
The facility will catalyse green and low-carbon private investment with a focus on blended finance.
Keith Hansen is the World Bank Country Director for Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and Somalia, and Rolande Pryce is, World Bank Country Manager for Rwanda
As African leaders give excuses, peers reach for the skies, By Tee Ngugi
Many Africans might have missed an event that should have been at the centre of the news. On August 23, 2023, India landed a spacecraft on the moon, making history as the fourth country to do so.
India is in exalted company. The other countries in that rarefied club are Russia, the US and China. India did not just land a spacecraft on the moon, it landed the craft near the south pole of the moon — the only country to achieve such a feat.
The reporting on this in the African press missed the significance of India’s achievement. Most media reported it as if it was another routine space mission by another power. First, any landing on the moon or any missions into space by any country are not routine.
They demonstrate the most advanced science and technology and their economic might. They showcase meticulous organisation, steely political will to achieve national ambitions, and an extraordinary sense of patriotism among citizens to make their country great.
Read: India becomes first nation to land spacecraft near Moon’s south pole
There is another reason why this news should have dominated our airwaves and discourse. India was colonised for more years than most African countries. India, like African countries, is multiethnic and multireligious. India, like Africa, has suffered from social strife. India, like many African countries, has gone to war with neighbouring countries. India, just like us, has to deal with disabling outdated traditional customs and beliefs.
And yet it did not use any of these characteristics as an excuse not to reach, quite literally, for the skies.
Further, India suffers from Monsoons and volcanic activity from which, for the most part, we are spared. It has a huge population, which many African countries do not. Yet it did not use these as excuses not to compete with, and sometimes beat, the best.
Perhaps we let this event pass without much commentary because we felt ashamed. Ghana became independent in 1957, 10 years after India.
Decades later, India had expanded its railway network to become the largest in the world. Ghana just expanded the railway left by the British the other day. As Ghana’s economy collapsed, India’s rose steadily. As Ghana’s education system stagnated, India advanced in science and technology, enabling it to explode a nuclear device in 1974, 27 years after Independence.
As Ghana’s heath system collapsed, India advanced theirs. Today, India has very advanced medical science and health system. Our leaders, after collapsing our health systems, seek treatment in India. India has expanded its GDP to become the fifth largest in the world. Ghana’s GDP is $80 billion, below that of Luxembourg, a tiny country of less than a million people.
Ghana is, of course, representative of the African post-independence experience of mismanagement, thievery and collapse. Will India’s example wean us from our “Pathological Excuse Syndrome” (PES)? Unlikely.
The Kenya Kwanza regime has churned out more excuses in one year than all previous regimes combined.
Tee Ngugi is a Nairobi-based political commentator.
What a beautiful summit! Now to vague promises by rich North, Joachim Buwembo
In an average lifetime, an African is expected to get involved in and attend many weddings (and funerals). First, you attend those of your elders, which leaves you hoping that yours too will not only come one day but that it will also be more glamorous.
Then there were those weddings (and funerals) of your contemporaries for which you have to pay the ‘African tax’, partly out of fear and hope that when your turn comes, people will contribute generously since you will have been known to be a generous contributor yourself.
Finally, you have to attend weddings of the younger generations, including virtual ones like the ones that were held during the Covid-19 lockdown, or those being staged in different countries where the wedding couples live.
In my idealistic opinion, one shortcoming of many wedding formats and texts is the vague and often immeasurable nature of the promises made.
Fine, the specifics and details could darken the joyful, colourful ceremony and even bog it down, but in a separate, written and signed agreement, things should be spelt out. This would probably even make divorce proceedings less messy.
How for instance is love measured? What does providing for and protecting include? And comfort? At least “until death do us part” is fair for it specifies an event and so no one can compel a surviving spouse to be buried with a dead partner (and you know how many relatives would love to do that and then take over the house and other valuables). But one can argue their way out of the other wedding promises.
The climax of wedding injustices comes from the preachers who urge the partners to always forgive the other party for whatever crimes they commit. If courts operated in the same spirit, all murderers and robbers would walk free to continue murdering and robbing more victims while counting on systemic forgiveness.
The text of the declaration at the end of the big Nairobi climate summit for Africa brought to mind a glittering wedding, whose success is measured first on its having been held at all, the number of guests, the size of the cake and the courses of the meal. Africans should hope that future climate summits are not measured the way a bride measures a wedding (including how less beautiful her lady friends looked), but in tangible, countable outcomes.
At the Nairobi climate summit, we Africans demanded specifics from the rich countries with which we are justifiably angry. We were accurate on what they owe and should pay in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Then we also made our ‘commitments’ but were careful enough to remain non-committal. We promised policy formulations, the right investments and job creation.
Somehow, we did not say how many jobs and by when. This was a climate summit, for God’s sake, and the heads of state who have armies of researchers at their disposal should have specified, or at least estimated, the number of jobs to be created in the provision and application of clean energy.
Was there any commitment to investing in the conversion of the continent’s ‘abundant rare’ earth minerals into mobility batteries that reduce pollution rather than “exporting jobs” to already rich countries for a pittance? Was there a commitment to how many megawatts of hydroelectric power will be committed to the electrification of railways by which year?
We remained silent on acres or square kilometres in reforestation. We mentioned the carbon sinks of the Congo and the savannah but did not specify how we shall protect them. In short, we did not put any figures or timelines on our ‘commitments’.
The Africa Climate Summit was thus like a wedding which the bride sees as an achievement in itself, that she has been taken down the aisle (even if the guy turns out to be a wife beater and drunkard).
For Kenya, again staging the inaugural summit in itself was a success, for beating the other potential brides on the continent – Morocco, South Africa, Egypt and lately Rwanda – from a tourism promotion point of view.
All the same, we rejoice for the very good effort by Kenya and do hope that subsequent such summits will have explicit deliverables and timelines on which the Africans can hold their leaders to account.
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