HE has role in unlocking green growth on the continent
The protection of intellectual property rights and the promotion of the use of scientific local and indigenous knowledge alongside the facilitation of intra-African and South-South-North triangular research collaborations are other areas that will need attention.
These proposed measures for green growth, among others, emerged from a report, Africa Green Growth Readiness Assessment: A joint study of the African Development Bank Group and the Global Green Growth Institute to support NDC [nationally determined contributions], LT-LEDs [long-term low emission development] strategy and SDG implementation planning in Africa.
According to the report, green growth “offers a new approach to development that seeks to deliver economic growth that is both environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive. It places equal emphasis on the quality and sustenance of economic growth and the means for and pathway to sustainable development”.
As such, the green growth model is “also pursued as a way to achieve inclusive growth by creating green and decent jobs; providing better basic services, including access to energy, drinking water, and sanitation; closing the digital divide; improving air quality; and contributing to climate action simultaneously,” the report noted.
“Ensuring climate-compatible economic growth is especially crucial on a continent poised to become the growth frontier of the world; it currently hosts six of the top 10 fastest-growing economies and its young and increasingly urban population will grow to 2.2 billion by 2030,” the report emphasised.
It was launched by the African Development Bank and the Global Green Growth Institute at a side event of the 2022 edition of the Africa Climate Week (ACW 2022), held in Libreville, Gabon, from 29 August to 2 September.
The event comes two months ahead of COP27, the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2022 that will be held in the Red Sea city of Sharm El-Sheikh, South Sinai in Egypt, from 7 to 18 November.
What does the report say?
The report analyses the readiness to drive green growth in seven African countries that represent the five regions on the African continent: Morocco and Tunisia for North Africa, Kenya and Rwanda for East Africa, Senegal for West Africa, Gabon for Central Africa and Mozambique for Southern Africa.
It also assessed the current state of and trends in green growth in Africa using a set of interlinked indicators covering key aspects of climate vulnerability, socio-economic development and green growth transitioning, including research and development and human capacity, among others, in order to derive recommendations for advancing green growth in the context of the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to the report, green growth-related science and technology innovation is still in its infancy in Africa. This is partly due to insufficient resources.
“Institutional capacity for research and development is still under development, and the network density of intra-African science and technology research and innovation communities is low. Private-sector engagement in research and development and innovation is also rather limited,” the report stated.
The number of academic publications in Africa as a whole is growing faster than the global average, and the continent’s share of global publications increased to 3.2% in 2016, from just 1.5% in 2005.
“However, only a handful of countries – South Africa, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria – are responsible for the majority of these publications,” the report noted.
Patent activity in Africa accounted for only 0.5% of the global total in 2016. The dominant fields of research in Africa are agriculture and health (tropical medicine and infectious diseases).
“Physical sciences and STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] must be further promoted to facilitate an innovation- and technology-driven green growth transition.
“Despite that environment and climate change are broadly addressed in science, technology and innovation policies, emerging green growth visions are required,” the report emphasised.
According to the report, the innovation ecosystem in Africa is unsatisfactory, characterised by weak institutions, poor science and technology infrastructure, and financial constraints.
Currently, few or no incentives exist for documenting, codifying, and deploying low-cost technology and utilising local indigenous knowledge and technologies which are key to ensuring that solutions promoted are appropriate for the local climate, customs and preferences, according to the report.
In addition, the report stated that intra-Africa and Africa-Global collaborations in climate change research are, in general, still underdeveloped.
“African research institutes are highly dependent on international collaboration and funds for research and, as a result, intra-African collaborations constitute a meagre 2% of all published research,” it said.
Green growth-related human resource development
The report indicated that the country case studies provided useful insights for extrapolation to other African countries.
With reference to mainstreaming green growth in higher education and strengthening practical skills development programmes in key green growth sectors to harness the innovation and job creation potential that the green growth approach presents in Africa, the report pinpointed several countries.
For example, the report indicated that Morocco, Rwanda and Tunisia could be models for countries with advanced enabling environments and Kenya and Gabon could be models for emerging countries with intermediate-level enabling environments.
While Morocco and Tunisia have both benefited from a relatively advanced educational system and a pool of local human capacity as well as the experiences of their diaspora academics, Rwanda has focused on inclusiveness and support for local entrepreneurship, resulting in significant numbers of new green jobs.
Also, Kenya boosted green growth outcomes by increasing public-sector support for innovation and human capacity development and Gabon used the private sector to mobilise specialist human capacity from overseas to train locals and transfer know-how.
“Local innovation and entrepreneurship are drivers of economic and social progress. Innovation, thus, is essential for the transition to and maintenance of green growth,” the report stated.
The report, therefore, put forward the following recommendations to improve research and development as well as innovation for green growth in the context of implementing the SDGs. They include:
• Supporting initiatives to mainstream green growth education and research in formal education systems with a focus on STEM courses. The Climate Change Competency Centre of Morocco (4C Morocco) serves as an exemplary model for the establishment of specialised capacity to provide people with the skills required for green jobs, in support of climate action and sustainable development.
• Providing incentives to document, research and promote the use of scientific local and indigenous knowledge for green growth innovation.
• Developing a regulatory ecosystem for effective innovation.
• Promoting intra-African and South-South-North triangular research collaborations on green growth science, technology and innovation.
• Raising public awareness of the declining costs and growing benefits of green growth technologies.
• Raising awareness at various levels and, thereby, broadening the buy-in for the green growth agenda at the highest levels of political leadership as well as in the civil service, scientific and business communities, as well as among the general public.
• Protecting intellectual property rights to boost research and development.
• Facilitating the availability of and access to mitigation and adaptation technologies.
• Initiating programmes to close the skills gaps of the workforce, starting with the civil service and Technical and Vocational Education and Training in high-potential sectors using local training institutions and regional centres of excellence.
• Preparing training and educational programmes to develop skilled human resources in different spheres, from policy formulation and financing to design and implementation of green growth solutions, involving new technologies.
• Reviewing the availability and quality of existing datasets held by different agencies and institutions, including academia, to identify alignment with global indices, redundancies and areas where support is needed.
• Identifying ways for alternative cost-effective data collection and analysis methods, including innovative ICT solutions using sensors, big data and remote sensing.
Expanding further, Professor Walter Leal, the head of the Research and Transfer Centre, Sustainability and Climate Change Management, at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences in Germany, told University World News that, despite having some universities across Africa with capabilities to handle matters related to climate financing, there is a perceived need for information and training programmes which may raise the capacity to better handle smart climate finance issues.
“Most African countries have, over the years, prepared strategies and action plans, have well identified areas where projects are needed, and have a talented people in place, at government and non-governmental agencies, who may implement them,” Leal said.
“What is missing is a systematic funding framework, which may allow resources to flow on a reliable basis, and monitoring mechanisms which may make sure the funds are put to proper use,” he added.
“The biggest asset of Africa is its people, especially the young generations. Provided they are well trained, they may realise the potentials seen in Africa, a continent which is also rich in resources,” he said.