- At the first Africa Climate Summit, President William Ruto of Kenya ignited a collective vision for a bold, affirmative, and climate-resilient African future.
- Dr Ruto says Climate Summit seeks to scrutinize ideas, assess perspectives, and unlock solutions not to catalog grievances.
- This Summit is our moment to imagine a bold and radically affirmative African future – Dr Ruto.
In a display of environmental consciousness, President William Ruto of Kenya embarked on an unconventional journey to the inaugural Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, setting an inspiring example for leaders worldwide.
Opting for a small electric car instead of the usual government convoys, President Ruto cruised through the freewheeling streets of Nairobi cleared of the often poorly maintained buses and vans belching smoke, making a statement about sustainable transportation.
His eco-friendly commute underscores the urgent need for innovative solutions to combat climate change at all levels of society, including the highest levels of government.
Africa Climate Summit 2023
As President Ruto made his way to the summit, his message was clear that his commitment to addressing climate change extended beyond personal choices. The challenges facing the African continent are vast and multifaceted, including the ability to forecast and monitor weather to avert thousands of deaths and billions of dollars in damages.
These challenges, much like the global climate crisis itself, have far-reaching consequences that extend beyond Africa’s borders. In his opening speech at the Africa Climate Summit, which Kenya is co-hosting with Africa Union, President Ruto sought to show his plan to tackle issues head-on, while demonstrating Kenya’s leadership in addressing climate-related challenges on the continent.
In his remarks, Dr Ruto ignited a collective vision for a bold, affirmative, and climate-resilient African future. Standing before a global audience of Heads of States, delegates, and activists, Dr Ruto laid out a transformative agenda that seeks to unlock the vast potential of the continent while leading the world toward a decarbonized future.
“This Summit is our moment to imagine a bold and radically affirmative African future,” President Ruto declared, his words resonating with optimism and ambition.
Dr Ruto challenged attendees to envision a continent that seamlessly connects markets and resources with demand while unlocking unprecedented economies of scale. With conviction, he painted a picture of an Africa that serves as the economic backbone of a decarbonized world, one that thrives while crafting a climate-proof future for its over 1.3 billion population.
Kenya serves as a shining example of what is possible, Dr Ruto noted. He shared that Kenya’s national grid already operates at 3 Giga Watts, with an impressive 92 per cent of that power coming from renewable energy.
Kenya’s march to 100% renewable energy
President Ruto’s audacious yet attainable goal for Kenya is to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030 and establish a staggering 100 Giga Watt grid, entirely powered by renewables, by 2040.
However, Dr Ruto’s vision extends far beyond Kenya’s borders. He asserted that Africa, as a whole, possesses the potential to meet all its energy needs through renewable resources. With an abundant mix of wind, solar, geothermal, sustainable biomass, and hydropower, Africa can become a green industrial hub that not only meets its own energy demands but also aids other regions in achieving their net-zero emissions targets by 2050.
Africa’s almost year-round sunshine offers unique advantages, making it a perfect match for industrial energy needs, he explained.
President Ruto invited all participants to adopt an “opportunity lens” as they engage in the complex dialogues of the summit. He emphasized that this gathering was not meant to catalog grievances or list problems; instead, it was a forum to scrutinize ideas, assess perspectives, and unlock solutions.
The three-day summit, which ends on September 6, was designed to facilitate such interactions, fostering dynamic discussions and groundbreaking discoveries.
About 600 million Africans lack electricity
The President’s focus on industrial-scale renewable energy stems from the pressing need to address the energy poverty that still affects millions of Africans. The President painted a stark picture: nearly 600 million Africans lack access to electricity. What’s more, another 150 million struggle with unreliable power, and almost a billion have no access to clean cooking energy.
Yet, with abundant renewable resources, emerging technologies, and climate financing opportunities, President Ruto believes that Africa has the capability to provide reliable and cost-effective energy access to all Africans by 2030.
In conclusion, President Ruto circled back to his initial message, reinforcing the idea that this summit was a pivotal moment to imagine and actualize a bold African future.
With determination, innovation, and collaboration, the continent has the power to shape a climate-proof future for all. As the Africa Climate Summit 2023 unfolds, it is clear that President Ruto has set the stage for a historic journey towards a greener, more prosperous Africa, and a brighter future for the world. “Welcome to the future indeed,” he said.
Financial commitments in addressing climate change
The inaugural Africa Climate Summit is drawing an impressive array of international attendees, highlighting the global significance of the event. Notable figures such as the US government’s climate envoy, John Kerry, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres are gracing the summit with their presence.
At the event, Secretary Kerry will shine a spotlight on the U.S. government’s pivotal role in President Biden’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE) initiative.
This ambitious effort aims to assist up to half a billion individuals in developing countries, with a particular focus on Africa, in adapting to the rapidly escalating impacts of climate change during this critical decade.
Secretary Kerry will underscore the vital role of carbon market initiatives in driving the transition toward clean and sustainable energy systems in developing nations. Among these initiatives, the Energy Transition Accelerator (ETA) stands out as a potent catalyst for mobilizing private capital and expediting the adoption of clean energy solutions.
Secretary-General Guterres has declared that finance is one of the “burning injustices of the climate crisis,” emphasizing the critical role of financial commitments in addressing climate change.
Their participation underscores the importance of international cooperation and collaboration in the fight against climate change, showcasing the summit’s potential to drive global climate action.