Benedict Oramah, Chairperson of African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), said that the world will be in Sharm El-Sheik within two months for the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) to review progress on climate commitments made in the past and to make urgent commitments towards addressing the devastating effects of climate change.
He added, in a statement on the sidelines of the Egypt International Cooperation Forum, that nothing can be more crucial for Africa because the continent is currently at a crossroads. On the one hand, Africans are the main victims of the excessive carbon emissions into the atmosphere, through increased frequency of extreme weather, floods, droughts, and all other related climate disasters. At the same time, the continent suffers from lack of access to finance to develop its oil and gas sector, which is critical to some countries in maintaining lives and livelihood. Striking a careful balance between these two can determine the future of many of our countries. For this reason, Afreximbank welcomes the opportunity that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) offers as a solution to these two twin problems of reducing carbon emissions, without damaging the pace of development.
To put things in context, the most significant area in which Africa can effect change in reducing carbon emissions is by offsetting wasteful journeys across our oceans. Africa is the world’s biggest store of minerals and commodities – everything from copper and iron ore to cotton, cocoa and coffee. Most of these commodities and minerals are shipped halfway around the world to Asia for manufacturing and processing, before being transported yet again to the consumer marketplace. This is a key reason why shipping is the single biggest CO2 emitter after China, the US, India, Russia and Japan at 3.1% of global greenhouse gas emissions – equivalent to all African nations combined.
The regional value chains that AfCFTA promises to promote can reduce up to 80% of carbon emissions that arise from the shipping of raw materials from Africa to the rest of the world and the sale and transportation of processed goods from the rest of the world back to Africa. The ensuring regional supply chains will also improve the living conditions of our people thereby averting on going rapid desertification. That is why we hope that the support for the AfCFTA becomes one of the pillars of mitigation actions that the COP27 will recommend.