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The World Bank’s Africa Climate Business Plan

Africa Climate Business Plan

A Continent in Crisis

By and large, sub-Saharan Africa has contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions. Despite this, it suffers some of the most devastating impacts of environmental challenges and changing weather patterns. The year 2019 was the third-warmest year ever on record in Africa.

A sample of 30 African countries found that two-thirds were warming quicker than the whole world on average. Poorer countries are more vulnerable to weather challenges due to the limited adaptive capacity of rural economies. Though Africa’s engines of growth are diversified, agriculture is still its largest economic sector. Agriculture makes up 15% of the continent’s GDP. It is highly climate-sensitive. Changing weather patterns and natural disasters like droughts and cyclones have directly impacted productivity.

Africa boasts a variety of climate types from arid to rainforest or temperate, so changing weather manifests differently in different regions. Effects can range from rising sea levels and coastal erosion to extreme floods, landslides and even desert locusts. These events threaten food and water security, as well as the overall socio-economic development of the continent. Changes in weather reverse development gains, undermining the health, safety and stability of communities. Climate-informed development is urgent; without it, an estimated 43 million additional people in sub-Saharan Africa could fall below the poverty line by 2030.

Strategic Focuses

The Next Generation Africa Climate Business Plan is all about thinking ahead for the future, but this does not mean that the World Bank is not looking to the past for guidance. The new and improved Climate Plan is building on the successes of its predecessor, the original Africa Climate Business Plan. This plan supported 246 projects with more than $33 billion in World Bank financing over the course of its six-year tenure. As the largest financial sponsor of climate action in Africa, the World Bank plans to ramp up existing efforts and institute new initiatives as part of the Next Generation Plan. With the plan, it will work to cooperatively tackling changing weather and promoting development within African countries.

The Next Generation African Climate Business Plan is essentially a sustainable development blueprint with five Strategic Directions. These include:

  • Food Security
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Clean Energy
  • Resilient Green Cities
  • Climate Shocks

The plan also has two Special Areas of Emphasis including Climate-Informed Macroeconomic Policies and Green and Resilient Infrastructure. At its core, it aims to scale up climate resilience as part and parcel of development efforts to reduce poverty and grow economies.

The Plan in Action

Until recently, Adwoa Adezawa, a resident of the Cape Coast of Ghana, lived in a community entirely without power. However, Adwoa, along with thousands of other Ghanaians, could purchase a mini solar grid thanks to the $220 million Ghana Energy and Development Access Project (GEDAP) financed by the World Bank. GEDAP focuses on inclusive access to renewable energy through the deployment of off-grid solar products. The project includes subsidies to make energy more affordable. It also collaborates with local financiers like rural banks to support access to financing. Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal Sierra Leone and Togo have all rolled out similar solar programs.

Given that sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest energy access rates in the world—electricity reaches only around half of its people —such programs are critical. Efficient, affordable solar energy is a pillar of the Next Generation Africa Climate Business Plan. Furthermore, the World Bank has been scaling up such projects each year.

Other cruxes of the plan include outfitting cities with low-carbon urban planning approaches and promoting climate-smart agriculture. The World Bank already supports modern agriculture projects in Ethiopia, Niger and Zambia. Additionally, it currently works to target 28 million farmers to ensure food security across 20 countries. The World Bank aims to train farmers on climate-smart agricultural approaches and expand integrated landscape management to more than 60 million hectares. Overall, expectations have determined investments in new projects will reach $22.5 billion by 2025. Treating development and climate action as interwoven, interdependent goals, the World Bank is pushing for growth that not only minimizes environmental impact but actively corrects past and future trends of environmental degradation.

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The Next Generation Africa Climate Business Plan—Ramping Up Development-Centered Climate Action


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1. Climate change and food insecurity are the twin development challenges that may define Africa’s future. More than 240 million, or one in five, people are undernourished in the continent, and the number could increase to 350 million by 2050 if appropriate adaptation measures are not taken to cope with the intensity of future climate change.

2. The Africa Climate Business Plan (ACBP) was launched by the World Bank at the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in Paris in 2015 to address Africa’s intricately linked climate and development agendas. The ACBP calls for US$19 billion in funding to help Africa adapt to climate change and build up the continent’s resilience to climate shocks. The ACBP includes a focus on climate-smart agriculture (CSA), an integrated approach that aims to address the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change by sustainably increasing agricultural productivity to support equitable increases in farm incomes, food security, and development; adapting and building resilience of agricultural and food systems to climate change at multiple levels; and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture.

Policy frameworks for CSA implementation

3. The assessment of the progress in implementing CSA under the ACBP was carried out against the background of the extent to which African countries have adopted CSA policies and created the enabling environment for implementation. The set of CSA policy indicators developed by the World Bank assesses the enabling environment, that is policy and institutional frameworks, readiness mechanism, services and infrastructure, and coordination mechanism within a country supporting the implementation of CSA.

4. African countries scored low on the CSA Policy Indicators, especially Readiness Mechanism, Services and Infrastructure, and the Aggregated Policy Index . This indicates that they face critical challenges related to leveraging investments for climate action, promoting adoption of new technologies, providing enabling services, and creating the necessary institutions for CSA implementation. A key contribution to the low Readiness Mechanism scores is the lack of monitoring and implementation systems to support adaptation and mitigation policies in many African countries. The low average score of the Services and Infrastructure results from the inadequacy of critical CSA enablers—such as well-functioning agricultural extension system, poor access to input and output markets, inefficient agricultural risk management system, and scarce social safety nets—that are critical for promoting the adoption of CSA.

5. South Africa with its strong agricultural export markets is a top performer (Aggregated Policy Index of 77 percent) because its agricultural sector is supported by market information systems, agriculture crop insurance, warehouse receipts systems, and early warning systems (EWSs) for weather and pest management that are critical for well-functioning markets. The country also is able to leverage investments for the adoption of new technologies through significant public investments in research and development (R&D). Tanzania’s relatively high score (Aggregated Policy Index of 76 percent) is driven, among others, by strong coordination mechanisms. Tanzania’s commitment to addressing climate adaptation and mitigation in the agriculture sector is reflected in the country’s National Climate Change Strategy. A multi-sectorial approach facilitated by the National Climate Change Technical Committee (NCCTC) and National Climate Change Steering Committee (NCCSC) is used to support CSA. Rwanda is another top performer (Aggregated Policy Index of 73 percent) with a dedicated Strategic Program for Climate Resilience (SPCR). The country also has established public-private partnerships to develop services and infrastructure, such as crop insurance for CSA. Compared to others, Rwanda scores high in agricultural adaptation policy, agricultural mitigation policy, agricultural R&D, social safety nets, national GHG inventory system, and disaster risk management coordination.

6. The bottom performers on the CSA Policy Index in Africa include Sudan (with Aggregated Policy Index of 31 percent), Central African Republic (36 percent), and Equatorial Guinea (37 percent). The countries are among the top five oil-producing countries in the region with economies heavily dependent on oil revenues and the agricultural sector critically underdeveloped. Most of the low performers have poorly developed or no National Adaptation Plan of Actions (NAPAs), for example, to support CSA implementation. The lack of diversification in the economy and underdevelopment of the agriculture sector has accounted for weak institutional mechanism and enabling environment for CSA. Sudan, however, is taking steps to create a stronger enabling environment. For example, through the Agricultural Revival Program (ARP) launched in 2008, the country aims to address structural weaknesses in the sector, and many of the priority areas of intervention coincide with the NAPA objectives. Also, there are some services in place with the potential to create a strong enabling environment for CSA, such as the Sudanese Food and Agriculture Market Information System, which collects and disseminates crop, livestock, and horticultural and animal products prices to market participants. Sustained commitment to improved agricultural policies, consistent approach, and better coordination is essential to develop a transformational agenda for agriculture in Sudan.

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