Thursday 8th of December was Africa Day at the COP17 climate negotiations in Durban. This high level event was the culmination of daily conferences on Africa’s development and sustainable growth. Leaders came together to show to the world the opportunity that exists for energy development in Africa.
The continent had 6 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world in the 2000s. It has some of the highest potential for renewable energy production and huge reserves of untapped natural resources. Leaders spoke of their desire to realise these energy opportunities both for economic growth and sustainable poverty reduction.
Participants included South Africa President Jacob Zuma, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, President of the Congo Denis Nguesso, Chairman of the African Union Commission Dr Jean Ping, the President of the Africa Development Bank Dr Donald Kaberuka – and many other Africa ministers and global observers including ONE.
In order to realise the potential the continent needs a plan to mobilise investment in the energy sector and to work together more closely. Africa Day at the COP showed that Africa is moving strongly in this direction with national plans, improved levels of cooperation, and policies being put in place to give confidence to investors and donors.
As Lord Nicholas Stern said: ‘People are starting to realise the potential of Africa. The recent Economist article proves this’. Africa Day was, however, about more than showing the reality of Africa’s potential. It was also about Africa defining its own vision for a type of growth that will bypass the dirty industrial methods of today’s developed nations and instead use new technologies to drive poverty reduction and economic empowerment.
The most encouraging thing was the level of harmony between different leaders and the audience that Africa could be the continent to do things differently. The promise to work together on a plan that delivers sustainable growth for all could be truly game-changing. The Economist is right – Africa is truly rising