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GFANZ launches regional network to support climate finance in Africa

New regional network seeks to unlock investment, support engagement with African financial institutions.

The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), a practitioner-led, global coalition of financial sector institutions working to accelerate the world’s transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, announced the formation of its Africa Network and the creation of an Advisory Board to bolster transition finance opportunities on the continent. The Network’s central office will be located in Nairobi.

Climate change poses both a significant challenge and a growth and sustainable development opportunity for African countries, which have contributed the least to global greenhouse gas emissions yet face disproportionately greater exposure to the risks of climate change. Despite its vast potential, a large part of the African continent has been left out of the energy transition to date, with just 2% of global investments in renewable energy in the last two decades made in Africa, and significant regional disparities1. The Africa Network seeks to unlock investment and support engagement with African financial institutions to ensure GFANZ work on net zero is inclusive and applicable to all.

Net zero transition and sustainable development must be a global movement representing and accounting for regional differences in socio-economic and policy context. Just transition is a priority for African countries, based on the agreed principles in the Convention and the Paris Agreement. The transition to a resilient, low-carbon economy must be just, equitable, and inclusive through providing the framework for connecting climate action with inclusive growth and sustainable development to address transitional challenges encountered for workers, communities and countries, including food and water security.

The GFANZ Africa Network will work with African banks, asset owners and managers, insurers, and other financial institutions across the continent to support capacity-building on climate finance required to meet the unique needs of African institutions as the global economy transitions to net zero. The Network will work with policymakers, regulators, and multilateral development banks as it seeks to further its understanding of the country-specific conditions needed to enable and accelerate financial flows for climate investment opportunities across the continent.

The Network’s Advisory Board comprises leading representatives in climate and finance from across Africa. Dr Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN High-Level Climate Action Champion of Egypt, COP27, will serve as Advisory Board Chair, and Dr Mohamed Farid Saleh, Chair of the Egyptian Financial Regulatory Authority, will serve as Vice Chair. The Advisory Board, which will see further experts join over the course of the year, aims for balanced representation across African countries and to reflect the diverse perspectives of economies across the continent.

The Board will provide guidance, strategic direction, and deep regional expertise to oversee the Network’s plans and outputs. Dr Mohieldin and Dr Farid, who, along with other members of the board, will assume their roles on the Advisory Board in their personal capacities, will be joined by leaders in climate finance from both private, public, and civil society sectors, including:

● Hussein Abaza, CEO, CIB

● Ade Ayeyemi, CEO, Ecobank

● Hendrik du Toit, CEO, Ninety One

● Dr. Leila Fourie, CEO, Johannesburg Stock Exchange

● Dr. Frannie Léautier, CEO, South Bridge Investments

● Tariye Gbadegesin, CEO, ARM Harith Infrastructure Fund Managers

● Ms. Nezha Hayat, Chairperson and CEO, Moroccan Capital Market Authority

● James Irungu Mwangi, Executive Director, Dalberg and Founder, Climate Action Platform for Africa

● Mark Napier, CEO, FSD Africa

● Lesley Ndlovu, CEO, African Risk Capacity

● Arunma Oteh, Chairperson, Royal African Society

● Dr. Vera Songwe, Co-Chair of the High Level Expert Panel Group on Climate Finance

The headquarters of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi, Kenya, will host the Network’s office and its Regional Director, who will deliver the workplan and operations of the Network, reporting both to the Advisory Board, and to the senior leadership of GFANZ. In the future, GFANZ and the Africa Network plan to develop country chapters with offices across the continent to support local engagement and implementation.

The GFANZ Africa Network follows the June launch of its Asia-Pacific Network. A Latin America Network will soon follow. The broader Network ensures that expertise and perspectives across diverse geographies remain embedded in GFANZ’s work to facilitate capital mobilisation.

“African countries have enormous renewable power potential and many are making great progress tapping into those resources, expanding access to affordable energy while cutting pollution and creating jobs. But despite the opportunities, not enough private capital is flowing to African clean energy projects. The GFANZ Africa network will bring public and private sector leaders together to help fix that and accelerate progress around the continent,” says Michael R. Bloomberg, GFANZ Co-Chair and UN Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions.

“The GFANZ Africa Network will support African financial institutions, companies, and countries as they expand access to clean energy and grow their economies. To those ends, it is imperative that financial products, standards, regulations, and above all, capital flows are consistent with the scale and nature of the net zero transition across Africa, ” adds Mark Carney, GFANZ Co-Chair and UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance.

“This decade marks a pivotal moment for the world’s climate and the net-zero transition — and what we do now will have an impact for decades to come. With a dedicated Regional Director and Advisory Board, the Africa Network will ensure GFANZ represents and accounts for regional differences in global economics and policy. As GFANZ continues our work in the region, we will work with African banks, asset managers, insurers, and other institutions to lead by example in target-setting, transition planning, and helping to mobilize the capital needed for renewable energy across the continent,” says Mary Schapiro, GFANZ Vice Chair and Head of Secretariats for GFANZ and Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.

“The global community must work together to solve the climate crisis — and Africa is a key element to this solution. I am looking forward to working with GFANZ members to turn pledges into action and embark on this important endeavor to ensure Africa can combat climate change within a more comprehensive agenda for sustainable development. It is not realistic to have climate action without considering the full context of the sustainable development agenda, of poverty, hunger, employment, and women empowerment,” says Mahmoud Mohieldin, Chair of the GFANZ Africa Network and High-level Climate Action Champion of Egypt, COP27, in his personal capacity.

“Climate change is having widespread impacts in Africa and addressing this issue requires comprehensive collaboration among all sectors and governments across the world. I am excited to join GFANZ to open the Africa Network and to further mobilize climate finance to create real progress in Africa and beyond,” says Mohamed Farid Saleh, Vice Chair of the GFANZ Africa Network and Chairman of the Egyptian Financial Regulatory Authority.

Inger Andersen, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme says, “Private capital and financing is the key to unlocking Africa’s potential for climate-smart, low-carbon growth and development. Mobilising that capital requires the commitment and concerted action from public and private actors alike, at the domestic, regional and international levels. UNEP looks forward to working hand-in-hand with GFANZ, to turn this important agenda and vision into reality, both in Africa and beyond.”

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