It is vital to speed up new investment in Africa that will promote a green transition in the recovery from the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the position of the main political and financial leaders speaking at the opening of the High-Level EU-Africa Green Investment Forum, organised by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU and by the European Investment Bank, from the Centro Cultural de Belém in Lisbon.
From left to right: President of the European Investment Bank, Werner Hoyer and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva © Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2021 / Pedro Sá da Bandeira
© Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2021 / Pedro Pina
Europe must establish a “real partnership” with Africa, “to build a more prosperous future”, argued the Portuguese Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. Augusto Santos Silva pointed out that the priority for this partnership must be to “reinforce the green transition”, which brings with it “an excellent opportunity for job creation and sustainable economic growth, making it possible to reduce inequalities”.
The Minister said that it is necessary to “recognise that Africa bears very little responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions”, but at the same time is “one of the regions most affected by the consequences of climate change. We must resolve this paradox”, Santos Silva stressed.
Augusto Santos Silva, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs © Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2021 / Pedro Pina
At the event, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who spoke via video message, suggested the creation of an African Green Deal similar to the European Green Deal. This pact, von der Leyen argued, would be the “linchpin” for the economic recovery. “The green transition is not just needed to combat climate change. The green transition is the best economic opportunity of our time and could be the driver for our recovery, both in Europe and in Africa”, she emphasised.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, speaking at the Forum © Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2021 / Pedro Pina
In turn, António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that it is important to speed up investment in renewable energy on the African continent. “It is a three-trillion-dollar investment opportunity up to 2030”, he said, pointing out that although Africa is the richest region in the world in terms of solar resources, only around two per cent of investment is focused on renewable energy.
Investing in these areas, Guterres argued, will boost “the development of technical skills for new jobs in African women and young people, while at the same time helping to combat unemployment and the climate crisis”.
António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, addressing the participants of the EU-Africa High Level Forum on Green Investment © Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2021 / Pedro Pina
The President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, warned investors that they “cannot ignore Africa”. The banker argued that “the recovery must ensure more space for the private sector in order to reduce state debt and must foster inclusive growth, with more opportunities for women and young people”.
Stressing the point, Adesina concluded that, “Africa is already green: it just needs to be greener, with more money to support growth on the continent. Don’t think about the difficulties of doing business in Africa; think rather about what you will be losing if you don’t”.
The High-Level EU-Africa Green Investment Forum discusses the role of Europe in the transition to a green economy throughout the African continent.