World Bank sets out plan to bolster Africa against climate change

The World Bank Group has unveiled a new plan that calls for 16 billion U.S. dollars in funding to help African people and countries adapt to climate change and build up the continent’s resilience to climate shocks.

FOREST AREA, GABON (REUTERS) – The World Bank aims to drive more funding into efforts to help African countries withstand climate change impacts and boost their clean energy production through a 16 billion U.S. dollars plan.

The “Africa Climate Business Plan” lays out investments to make the continent’s people, land, water and cities more resilient to droughts, floods, storms and rising seas, increase access to green energy, and strengthen early warning systems.

“This plan is ambitious. This plan will have to reverse the way we do business. So far, around 3 billion dollars of investment are done for adaptation to climate change in Africa. We believe we have to go to an investment program of around 16 billion dollars for the next few years, to be able to address this issue more seriously,” explained Jamal Saghir, World Bank’s Senior Regional Adviser for Africa.

The plan outlines measures for “fast-tracking” adaptation to climate change, costing almost 10.7 billion dollars from 2016 to 2020.

They include helping some 10 million farmers adopt resource-efficient techniques and hardier crop varieties, improving water management in the Niger, Lake Chad and Zambezi basins, reducing coastal erosion, strengthening flood protection, and restoring degraded land and forests.

The African region requires 5 to 10 billion dollars per year to prepare for global warming of two degrees Celsius, the plan said, an amount that could rise to 20 billion to 50 billion dollars by mid-century.

But experts say pledges from some 170 countries to curb their planet-warming emissions would still permit global average temperatures to increase between 2.7 and 3.7 degrees from pre-industrial times, suggesting adaptation costs will be higher.

On energy, the World Bank plan aims to invest in boosting solar, hydro and geothermal generation capacity, and to provide 5 million off-grid consumers with access to modern energy services by 2023, when the funding would have produced results.

The plan warns that unless decisive action is taken, climate variability and change could seriously jeopardize the Africa’s hard-won development gains and its aspirations for further growth and poverty reduction. And it comes in the wake of Bank analysis which indicates climate change could push up to 43 million more Africans into poverty by 2030.

“Specifically in Africa, we try to do three things. We try to strengthen resilience, to power resilience and to enable resilience. And we mean by that, that it will be an opportunity to move to a growth path which is based on smart agriculture, on climate resilient landscape, on forest management, on coastal zone management and to support ocean economies. We try also to power resilience. As you all know, Africa is facing a huge shortage of electricity and energy. The program that we are trying to put forward is a program that will be supporting renewable energy, energy, solar power, geothermal and hydropower. And these are resources that Africa has in abundance,” said Makhtar Diop, World Bank’s Vice President for Africa.

The plan also identifies longer-term outcomes that could be achieved by 2026, at an estimated cost of 21.3 billion dollars.