Global experts back Ruto’s call for a 'Just African Transition'

President William Ruto during the official opening of the Second Session of the United Nations Habitat Assembly, UN Complex, Nairobi.

Photo credit: PCS

What you need to know:

  • Africa is exploring alternative ways to develop as it seeks to end reliance on extraction of resources such as oil and gas.
  • The Just Transition report released in May shows that the continent can industrialise in a low-carbon and sustainable manner by tapping into its renewable energy potential.

Climate experts have backed President William Ruto’s call as he urged the continent to pursue a more assertive climate agenda that strengthens food, energy infrastructure and development.

According to the experts, while Africa continues to suffer the destructive effects of climate change (and numerous other crises), a new report has found that the continent can embark on an African Just Transition that strengthens food and energy infrastructure and sets out a more resilient and just development path.
A Just Transition, they explain must entail a global convergence of energy and material use that focuses considers de-growth for those over-consuming.

 “I believe by becoming more assertive and pursuing a climate and development agenda through unified approaches of the kind outlined in this report, Africa will be able to mitigate the climate emergency and propel itself to prosperity,” President Ruto states in the report which highlights ways in which Pan-African collaboration can anchor the continent on a new path of development and what is described as a just transition by exploiting its huge renewable energy, food sovereignty and development potential.
“Realising the continent’s potential requires bold, new approaches matched to the magnitude of the existential challenge posed by climate change, which affects the continent disproportionately. These bold actions must be coupled with a strong sense of urgency and avoid pitfalls and traps of mal-development pathways, which have previously held back the continent, thus replicating mistakes of the past and expecting new results is not an option,” he said.

The report anchors its analysis by examining how climate change, misguided development policies and colonial dependencies have locked African countries into perpetual traps, including external debt, while highlighting three structural traps facing the continent. These are food insecurity, food imports and under-nutrition, energy poverty created by inappropriate fossil-fuel based systems and failed or ineffective industrial strategies. “These traps must be addressed by a transition to food sovereignty through agroecology, a just energy transition to people-centred, 100 per cent renewable energy systems and Pan-African industrial policies that harness the continent’s resources while caring for its people and environment,” the experts observe.
 The report is a wakeup call for African leaders to the effect that “without renewal of its strategic vision, the continent will remain a site of contestation by other global powers seeking to control its resources, markets and institutions.”

Tzeporah Berman, the chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, reminded that Africa’s destiny is in her hands.

"Africa is uniquely positioned to chart a continent wide clean, safe, renewable energy future that is decentralised, cooperative and puts people first.

Decades of oil, gas and coal extraction have left more than 600 million Africans in the dark while poisoning their air and water,” Ms Tzeporah said. Mr Mohammed Adow, the director at Nairobi-based think-tank Power Shift Africa, predicts that the global race to become leaders in renewable energy is about to explode.
“To be able to capitalise on this opportunity, however, African leaders must take a Pan-African approach by working together. Other countries are mobilising resources to push forward support for green industries; the US, EU and China have all announced packages of support