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This blog was started in May 2012, one month before the United Nations Rio+20 ‘Earth Summit’ where the green economy was the main theme. The blog so far has had three specific objectives.

In the run-up to the Rio+20 Summit the initial objective was to raise awareness of Africa’s huge green growth potential and role in rebalancing the global economy. Eight posts were published before the Summit and were sent to as many African environment ministries as possible. One post was published in August 2012 appraising the summit and Africa’s position: Africa, Rio+20 and the Green Road Ahead.

The second objective was to examine the case of Ethiopia, following the death of prime minister Meles Zenawi on 21 August 2012. At the time of his death Mr Meles was recognised as 'the voice of Africa' at international summits and conferences and a leader in Africa's green thinking. Four posts on Ethiopia were published between late August and early November 2012 exploring the paradoxical nature of his leadership with a focus on raising awareness of his green legacy and 21st century vision for Ethiopia and Africa.

The third and current objective is to raise awareness of the importance of the green economy in Africa's growth story. 2013 started with unprecedented optimism for Africa’s growth prospects. Summits, conferences, articles, books, blogs, films and other media now proclaim that 'Africa’s Moment' has arrived. But very few even mention the green economy as an essential tool in the process to achieve sustainability and resilience. For this reason the current focus of this blog is a call to action to 'put the green economy into Africa’s growth story'.

Part of this call to action is writing letters to the Financial Times. Not only does the FT have excellent coverage of Africa but it is also seen by many as the 'world's most influential newspaper'.

Friday, 20 November 2015


In the past month the Financial Times has published a number of articles on the threat to Africa from China’s slowdown and the resulting fall in commodity prices – “African growth feels the strain from China's slowdown” (Oct 27);  "Slowdown calls 'Africa rising' narrative into question" (Oct 27) "China’s slowdown stalls Africa’s rise” (1 Nov); "Nigerian manufacturers face import blow” (Nov 11); “Mozambique hit by commodity price fall” (Nov 12)

Summing up the FT says "a disturbing proportion of the rise in growth since 2000 was based on exporting expensive raw material and importing cheap capital". This is very bad news for Africa and for the rest of the world.

Note: the FT is open to subscribers only but some articles may be accessed for free by following the links.

While no one expected Africa’s long-awaited rise to be without some bumps in the road, the lack of resilience to China’s slowdown is alarming and suggests that contrary to what many people thought “this time” may not be so “different” after all.

This downturn is doubly unfortunate as it falls just when Africans need a position of confidence for the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) climate talks in Paris next month. Arguably the most important negotiations for Africa since those that brought about Independence, the deal obtained in Paris will decide Africa’s future. More than ever Africans need to speak with one clear voice.

Unfortunately, even during boom time Africa’s voice on the world stage was difficult to hear and there is concern that even the modest diplomatic gains made over the past decade are being lost, that Africa is in danger of being sidelined as usual. At the G20 summit in Brisbane (Nov 2014), at the UN’s COP 20 climate talks in Lima (Dec 2014) and at Davos (Jan 2015) Africa’s negotiators were struggling to be heard.

The greatest tragedy, and historic irony, is that Africans, who have the lightest carbon footprint but who stand to suffer most from climate change, have been telling the rest of the world for years what they need to deal with the looming climate catastrophe and volatile global economy: a shift away from business as usual to low carbon, resource-efficient, inclusive and therefore sustainable, green growth.

Africa’s 'green' journey began at the end of the Cold War when the postcolonial development model was deemed a failure and Africans started exploring new models based on sustainability. Progress in green development was so rapid that by 2009, when the financial crisis threatened to tip Africa over the edge, leaders were calling for an Africa Green Fund as a way to deal with multiple crises, and the concept was taken to COP 15 talks in Copenhagen (December 2009).

In 2010 the African Development Bank began work on a Green Growth Strategy to usher a New Green Deal for Africa. At the 2012 Rio+20 “Earth Summit”, where the Green Economy and Green GDP were the main themes, Item 24 of Africa’s Consensus Statement called on the international community for a green investment plan to accelerate the transition to a green economy in Africa. In each of the COP meetings since then Africa’s negotiators have put Africa’s huge potential for green growth central to their adaptation and development plans.
Championed by the African Development Bank and backed by the UN, OECD, World Bank, EU, IMF and other major international institutions, in collaboration with the private sector, Africa in 2015 has developed a sufficient network of 21st century green growth initiatives, with projects on the ground, to accelerate the transition to a green economy. Sadly, not enough people are listening to Africa's green growth story.

With only 9 days to go before COP21 begins, what can Africa put on the table that will convince the international community that the world’s least developed continent, with the world’s greatest untapped resources, has the greatest potential for rapid green growth designed for the 21st century? Three sets of figures should be sufficient to demonstrate this potential: approximate values of ‘Green GDP’ in 2015 for each of Africa’s 54 countries; approximate annual increases in green growth across the continent over the past five years, and estimates for annual green growth over the next five years.

Africa, which has been called ‘the greatest imbalance on earth’, can now play a critical role in the great rebalancing. Africans have a historic opportunity to show the world that they have the knowledge, information, tools, technologies, skills and leadership to make this happen, to show that this time really is different. Now is the moment for Africa’s ‘green voices’ to make themselves heard.