Africa Climate Summit

President William Ruto address delegates during the opening of the Africa Climate Summit at Kenyatta International Convention Centre, Nairobi, on Monday, September 4, 2023.

| Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

President Ruto: It’s time to fully tap renewable power

President William Ruto has called on Africa to harness its abundant renewable energy resources to become a green industrial hub as pressure mounts to tackle the climate crisis.

Speaking at the opening of the Africa Climate Summit ministerial conference in Nairobi yesterday, the President said Africa holds the key to accelerating the decarbonisation of the global economy.

He noted that Africa can meet all its energy needs from renewable resources, saying the continent has enough potential to be completely self-sufficient with a mix of wind, solar, geothermal, sustainable biomass and hydropower.

Dr Ruto urged the continent’s leaders to invest in solutions offered by renewable energy, green industrialisation, climate smart agriculture and conservation at a time when trillions of dollars are being sought globally for green investment opportunities.

He cited Kenya as an example of what is possible, noting that the country’s national grid currently has 92 per cent of its power coming from renewable sources. He added that the country aims to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

President Ruto: Africa Climate Summit no ordinary summit

“Africa holds the key to accelerating the decarbonisation of the global economy. We are not just a continent rich in resources, we are a powerhouse of untapped potential, eager to engage and compete fairly in global markets,” said President Ruto.

“We have abundant renewable energy potential and the natural assets and resources to green our own consumption and contribute meaningfully to the decarbonisation of the global economy,” he added.

President Ruto noted that while Africa’s carbon footprint remains small, the human toll of climate change is disproportionately high on the continent, and that is why it must strive for better outcomes.

To achieve meaningful change, he said, policy, regulation, taxation, trade and climate justice must be examined in national, regional and global contexts.

“We are not here to catalogue grievances and list problems. We are here to examine ideas, assess perspectives and find solutions. The very format of this Summit has been designed to facilitate such engagement,” said Dr Ruto. “But we will not shy away from the difficult conversations and uncomfortable realities that must be faced.”

While advocating for restorative agriculture as a means of addressing food security, he said Africa has experienced a one-third decline in agricultural productivity since 1961 due to climate change; a stark reminder of the urgent need for adaptation.

President William Ruto's full speech at the Africa Climate Summit 2023

He said the continent must therefore build on the wealth of indigenous knowledge to scale up, improve and even monetise its agricultural systems to unlock the huge potential of Africa's agricultural land, which represents two-thirds of the world's uncultivated and underutilised arable land.

The President said the move will ensure that Africa feeds its growing population in harmony with its invaluable natural carbon sinks.