Rooting for sustainable finance in Africa


Leading financial and environmental institutions, United Nations, multinationals and sustainability campaigners on Thursday gathered in Nairobi to hold the inaugural Africa Summit to accelerate green and sustainable finance.

The forum being spearheaded by Standard Chartered Bank is meant to reflect on challenges and the opportunities that can help deliver sustainable development for Africa.

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Speaking at the opening of the inaugural Summit themed – Transforming Africa into the next Global Growth EngineStandard Chartered Bank Kenya CEO Kariuki Ngari said sustainable finance is now recognized as one of the megatrends shaping the future of global finance.

The forum was attended by key leaders among them Kenya’s Permanent Secretary Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development and Public Works Esther Koimett,  Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi and Dr. Richard Munang, Coordinator United Nations Environment (UNEP) Africa Regional Climate Change Programme.

This summit marks a major milestone for us at Standard Chartered Bank Kenya. At a time when Kenya, and Africa continent at large, is facing continued economic and financial vulnerability, we have committed to pursue sustainable finance in our dealings across various sectors,” Ngari said.

Financing and sustainability go hand in hand. Financial institutions were the key determinants of global capital flows. Banks have a powerful tool –financing –to promote change. We have an opportunity and obligation to leverage our banking knowledge, products and footprint to provide client solutions which not only make financial sense, but also have a positive and lasting impact on our communities and environment,” he added.

Addressing the Summit, Standard Chartered Bank Regional CEO, Africa & the Middle East Sunil Kaushal, said working towards the prevention of climate change is estimated to cost the global economy almost US$14 trillion per year by 2100, hence the need to sensitize financiers on need for sustainable financing.

In 2018, Standard Chartered issued the world’s first blue bond, on behalf of The Republic of Seychelles, and raised US$15 million from impact investors to finance the expansion and transition of its marine protected areas, improve governance of priority fisheries and develop its blue economy.

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In addition, Standard Chartered structured the financing for the largest renewables deal in the Gulf region for DEWA last year.

The project is also the largest Green Belt and Road solar project and uses landmark technology, which will allow Dubai to utilise solar power at a world record tariff around the clock.

Standard Chartered involvement in deals such as this ensures that the Bank is contributing to the long-term sustainable growth of economies as well as supporting its commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” Kaushal said.

Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, (UNCTAD) while addressing the Summit said Public Private Partnerships play an important role in ensuring sustainable financing solutions.

He noted that traditionally in Africa, infrastructure investments have predominantly been developed via public procurement initiatives with funding sourced partially through budgetary allocations and large-scale sovereign borrowings – the latter often on a bilateral basis.

As Governments around Africa run out of sufficient borrowing capacity to meet its growing infrastructure needs and credit appetite for sovereign lending sources diminishes, Public Private Partnerships are starting to constitute an important channel to attract private sector financing into infrastructure projects,” Kituyi said.

The involvement of private sector introduces a new commercial lens ensuring that projects are conceived on a viability and sustainable basis,” added Dr Kituyi.

To support Transforming Africa into the next Global Growth Engine– Standard Chartered recently launched the world’s first Sustainable Deposit, dedicated to financing sustainable assets in developing countries aligned to the United Nations’ SDGs, allowing investors access to dynamic markets and giving them an opportunity to put their money into addressing some of the world’s biggest long-term social and environmental threats.

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Martin Mwita is a business reporter based in Kenya. He covers equities, capital markets, trade and the East African Cooperation markets.

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