Many African leaders and policy-makers are currently gathered in Washington DC for the World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings and climate action is high on their agenda.  The CIF’s Program Manager Mafalda Duarte offers some reflections of the CIF’s work with Africa. 

When it comes to climate change, Africa is both on the frontlines and at the forefront. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finds that the impacts of climate change are already being felt across Africa: temperature changes have been a factor in the increase in malaria in East Africa and effects on the production of maize and wheat – two staple crops that are vital to the continent’s food security - are being seen.

But the continent is also at the forefront when it comes to finding low-carbon and climate-smart solutions.  Many African nations have deposited their articles of ratification for the Paris Agreement, which has just entered into force. 

Credit: World Bank

Tackling the impacts of climate change in Africa requires a strong focus on adaptation.  As the largest source of concessional climate finance to Africa, the Climate Investment Funds has dedicated $400 million to activities that build resilience across the continent. Our $1.2 billion Pilot Program for Climate Resilience assists national governments in integrating climate resilience into development planning across sectors and stakeholder groups. And it provides additional funding to put these plans into action and pilot innovative public and private sector solutions to pressing climate-related risks.

With PPCR support, Niger has developed a strategic investment plan around the nexus of climate resilient growth and poverty reduction.  The latter is also crucial – new World Bank research shows that half of the world’s poor live in Africa.  Niger’s investment plan taps $110 million from the CIF’s PPCR programmed through the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation. This coordinated program of investments aims to implement climate resilient land and water management programs at scale, incorporate them into the structures of local and national government planning and improve the quality and accessibility of weather and climate information. Approaches like this show the need and opportunity for developing more climate-proof economies.

Credit: Dominic Chavez/ World Bank – Niger Basin 

Renewable energy also offers a huge opportunity for sub-Saharan Africa. Presently, the continent loses two to four percent from the combined GDP of all its countries due to power shortages and bottlenecks. And energy access is far from universal, with 620 million people in the dark. The vastness of many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, coupled with low population densities, can make access to electricity through grid expansion challenging.  So mini-grid schemes - connecting smaller groups of customers to decentralized, sustainable sources – can often be one of the best options to bring energy to a larger proportion of the population. 

With funding from our Scaling Up Renewable Energy in Low Income Countries Program (SREP), the CIF is providing about $90 million to mini-grid projects identified through country investment plans in a number of countries across Africa. Mali, Kenya, Tanzania, Liberia, Rwanda, Uganda and Ghana are just some of the countries that are exploring how to deploy mini-grid systems so that life and livelihoods in rural areas can continue to improve. This is helping build the energy systems needed to create jobs and develop while at the same time contributing to efforts to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Forests are another way the CIF helps to both build resilience and prevent climate change.  Growing populations, increased urbanization and other factors are putting pressure on forests worldwide.  In Africa in particular, forests are incredibly valuable resources and investing in sustainable and productive forests on the African continent is crucial. 

Credit: World Bank

That’s why the CIF recently endorsed the Ivorian forest investment plan. Cote d’Ivoire’s forests offer huge potential and rich biodiversity but the country has one of the highest rates of deforestation in sub-Saharan Africa. Funding of $24 million from the CIF’s Forest Investment Program will focus on restoring the country’s forest cover by working with small-scale farmers to introduce agroforestry techniques and improve agricultural productivity.  It will also contribute to the protection of the vast forest area of Tai National Park - a world heritage site and one of the last major remnants of pristine forest in West Africa - conserving its biodiversity and carbon stocks. 

African countries have shown tremendous leadership on climate action and the CIF has been proud to support their climate-smart development.  Together, we have achieved many successes.  We will continue to share lessons from these success stories, build upon them and work closely with African countries as they lead a march to new frontiers of innovation and ingenuity in the climate space.