Africa must move forward with green growth

by Felix von Geyer in Montreal

“We on the African continent are determined to move forward,” African Development Bank president Donald Kaburuka told the annual Conference of Montreal, International Economic Forum of the Americas in the build up to next week’s Rio+20 earth summit in Brazil.
As Africa eyes the relative successes of Chinese, Indian and Brazilian growth, it needs to ask how this growth was achieved and whether Africa should follow the same path, said Kaburuka who noted that the most important of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals – to halve poverty by 2015 – was on track for success.
In development terms, until now, Africa has had a lack of choice fullstop in deciding how it shoulc and could develop, said Kaburuka, let alone choosing sustainable choices, he added.
Among the many issues facing Africa are 600 million people with no access to electricity; the need to preserve ecosystems and the prevention of deforestation that is twice average global levels. Despite producing under four per cent of the planet’s anthropogenic carbon emissions, Kaburuka stressed the need to have a price on carbon emissions including the phase-out of fossil-fuel subsidies worth globally around $700 million a year.
Otherwise natural resources and sustainable infrastructure remain critical issues in a region otherwise struck by sovereign debt and poor economic growth.
Power generation and roads are otherwise huge issues holding back much African development and require an estimated $93 billion per year over ten years and will likely require public private partnerships to provide funding. It is estimated that productivity is 40 per cent less per year and GDP at least 2% less per year due to these two infrastructural shortfalls alone.
Countries such as Gabon have introduced a three-point development strategy concentrating on industry, green issues and the service industry, particularly concentrating on energy, water, telecommunications, railway, mining,  forestry, agriculture, fishing and hydrocarbons, in particular looking at gas-fired power generation plants of between 100MW to 300MW.
Development in East Africa has changed with the confirmed discoveries of commercially recoverable onshore oil in Kenya this year in its north-west region. A further offshore prospect is awaiting confirmation.
This can be added to the region’s other mineral wealth including coal, gold, diamonds and other minerals.
However, successful development of these resources requires adherence to the best international standards said Peter Kenneth, Deputy Minister for Kenya 2030, the country’s development plan.
Furthermore, avoiding the so-called resource curse of stagnated growth in non-resource industries and corruption elsewhere must be avoided, said Kenneth.
To thiks end Kenyan and African development requires clear objectives inclusive of all stakeholders such as local communities where extractive industries might operate and also the recognition of cultural rights. A clear demarcation of responsibility among parties and progressive corporate social responsibility policies are also fundamental said Kenneth who stressed that PPPs are more than just about producing money.