ACRIS Summit Report
The first Africa Climate Resilient Infrastructure Summit (ACRIS) took place at the AUC, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 27 -29 April 2015: under the theme “Africa towards resilient Infrastructure Development”. The summit, which is organized by the African Union Commission (AUC) in collaboration with GRV Global (Formerly Entico Event Limited), brought together 15 African ministers in charge of energy, water, transport, infrastructure, agriculture as well as development agencies, financial institutions, and more than 400 delegates representing the private sector, national and international experts, amongst others. These represented 51 countries in total; 29 countries from Africa, 12 countries from Europe, 8 countries from Asia, in addition to Argentina and USA.

The Summit aimed at introducing Member States’ representatives to practical solutions that tackle the impacts of climate change on energy, agriculture, water, food security, infrastructure and other key sectors in Africa. Speaking at the opening, Dr Elham Ibrahim, AUC commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy recognized the urgency of the summit as Africa is at the stage of building its infrastructure at national and regional levels which is geared at achieving a sustainable future for Africa.

The commissioner reaffirmed that there are already negative impacts that climate change is having on agriculture, food security and water supply, particularly evidenced by food shortages in Sub-Saharan Africa, which depends primarily on rain-fed agriculture.

“Currently, Africa stands out as the most vulnerable region to the impacts of climate change despite accounting for less than four percent of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions mainly due to low levels of infrastructure to adequately adapt to changing climatic conditions”, Dr Elham added.

Mr. Jamal Saghir, senior regional advisor to World Bank called for climate change and infrastructure development programmes to be put at the heart of Africa’s development agenda. He therefore emphasized the need to raise awareness to increase dialogue to better draw attention to the issue.

Addressing the delegates Mr. Saghir said that the World Bank had launched a global infrastructure facility in 2014 and four billion USD aside for climate change combating measures. He called for the promotion of the blue economy, putting more emphasis on renewable energy development as well as stepping-up technical capacity building in the Sahara to curb the challenges poised by climate change in Africa.

Taking the floor, Mr. Paul Desanker, Manager of the Adaptation Programme, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) described the work of the Governors’ Climate and Forests Fund (GCF Fund), which is a non-profit climate finance facility. The GCF Fund works with member states to support initiatives that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and demonstrates realistic pathways to achieving low emission rural development.

Mr. Desanker highlighted that GCF has mobilized 10 billion dollars this year and is in the process of identifying projects that require funding in various regions. The projects will help facilitate the integration of climate change resilient programmes into national frameworks, thereby ensuring sustainability in the long-run, according to him.

European Investment Bank Loan Officer, Ms. Morag Baird underscored the role played by the bank to achieve sustainable development and poverty reduction around the world. Highlighting the activities of EIB, where 19 billion euros have been set aside for climate action alone, Ms. Baird stressed that the bank is largely involved in efforts to manage climate change with climate intervention approaches incorporated into EIBs program agenda.

Day one covered:

  • Building a sustainable future for Africa 
  • Financing Infrastructure Investment for Green Economy Energy Session dealing with Renewable Energy: Unique risks, unique solutions 
  • Agriculture and Food Security Session; Inclusive and Dynamic Agricultural Development 
  • The World Bank Session dealing with enhancing the Climate Resilience of Africa’s Infrastructure, the delegates met for one–to-one meetings in the Multi-Purpose Hall. 
  • Then all delegates participated in one-to-one meetings in the Multi-Purpose Hall And a Side Ministerial Meeting for all participating Ministers, the AUC, The World Bank and IRENA was also held in the small conference Hall on the Mezzanine Level. 
  • At the end of Day one, all participants enjoyed a Gala Dinner in the Hilton Hotel Addis, where a local cultural band performed Ethiopian songs and dances. 
Day two covered:

  • Transport Session; Sustainable Development as a Factor in Producing Peace and Security 
  • Energy Session dealing with country overviews; Chance of renewable energy with Zambia. A short view on the PEESA Project in EDU-Link 
  • Key Note Speech, Mr. Mihiret Debebe, Energy Advisor to Prime Minister, Ethiopia 
  • Water Session; coping with water scarcity: water and food security nexus policy dialogue 
  • Climate Change adaptation Session; strengthening climate information and early warning systems 
  • Rural Development Session; sustainable Development as a Factor in Producing Peace and Security 
  • This was followed with the prescheduled One-To-One Meetings in the Multi-Purpose Hall 
Day three covered:

  • Food Security; Policies for Enhancing Food Security – Effects on employment, livelihoods and food security
  • Transport Infrastructure Session; Walvis Bay Corridor, Sub Sahara, Transport Corridor Development. 
  • Agriculture & Water Management Session; Ensuring Environmental Sustainability 
  • Closing Remarks by Mr. Aboubakri Babamousa, Director of Infrastructure and Energy, African Union Commission and Mr. Andrew Dowell, CEO of GRV Global Limited . 

In his closing remarks, Mr. Babamousa expressed his gratitude for the organisers and the sponsors and expressed his delight at the quality of the discussions and presentations at the summit and stated that there is a crucial need to ensure climate change resilience in developing Africa’s infrastructure because Africa is currently at the stage of building its infrastructure both at the national and regional levels, which are all geared towards meeting Africa’s development agenda.

He stressed that ensuring the implementation of Sustainable Development in Africa, as stated in the Agenda 2063 vision, which involves addressing Africa’s development challenges including poverty reduction and jobs creation, expansion of modern energy and healthcare services, etc. and he also stressed that climate change poses significant risks to the continued development efforts in Africa.

He mentioned that the discussions over the three days have highlighted that climate change is already impacting negatively on key sectors in Africa including agriculture and food security, infrastructure, water supply, transport and energy, amongst others.

In his speech he raised the following points:

1) To address the climate change problem in Africa, there is a vital need to mainstream climate change into development policies, which will provide opportunities for designing climate-resilient and low carbon development pathways for Africa. The benefits of following a low carbon and climate-resilient development in Africa include meeting our development challenges while also adapting to, and mitigating the impacts of climate change at the same time.

2) This Summit has highlighted key areas for Africa to strengthen in order to address the twin challenges of infrastructure development and climate change. For Africa, the messages we have for climate-proofing our infrastructure include:
  • Integrating climate-change policies into planning and implementation processes. 
  • Repositioning current policies to stimulate adoption of climate change strategies and opportunities in our institutional frameworks, and financial and capital markets. 
  • Introduction and promotion of innovative and climate financing initiatives as well as mobilising private sector participation. 
  • Enhancing technical capacity building that ensures technical innovations, and technology transfer and adoption. 
  • Informed decision-making through awareness creation, and research and development. 

3) There are huge opportunities to integrate climate change resilience into its infrastructure development plans, since the continent is just beginning to build its own infrastructure. Although we are aware that climate-proofing of our infrastructures will add significant economic costs to our development goals, it provides a cost-effective opportunity in the long-run while also ensuring environmental and social benefits.

4) I believe that this Summit has given us another “wake-up” call to the realities and challenges facing Africa in terms of the impacts of Climate change on its current and future infrastructure.

5) Let me also use this opportunity to extend our gratitude to the World Bank in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, for producing this excellent report on “Enhancing the Climate Resilience of Africa’s Infrastructure”. We believe that the Report underscores the importance of mainstreaming climate change into infrastructure development in Africa, focusing on the power (hydropower) and water sectors. We believe that the highlights of the findings in this work are crucial for developing appropriate measures to address climate change issues in sensitive sectors in Africa. The main conclusions from the work will also be important to the PIDA programme.

6) We hope to continue our collaboration with the World Bank, and other African and International organizations and partners in developing frameworks, mobilizing finances and building technical capacities in ensuring the integration of climate resilience into infrastructure development in Africa.