UAE announces $4.5bn finance initiative for clean energy projects in Africa

Platform will prioritise investments in countries with clear transition plans, says Dr Sultan Al Jaber

Dr Sultan Al Jaber meets Collins Nzovu, Zambia’s Minister of Green Economy and Environment, in Nairobi on a day the UAE pledged billions to help African nations develop green energy sources. Photo: Cop28
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The UAE has pledged $4.5 billion to help speed up the development of clean energy projects in Africa.

Abu Dhabi’s clean-energy company Masdar, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, Etihad Credit Insurance, and Dubai-based renewable energy company AMEA Power will provide the funds.

Africa50, an investment platform established by African governments and the Africa Development Bank, has also joined the initiative, the UAE said at the Africa Climate Summit on Tuesday.

The platform, which was founded to help solve the continent’s infrastructure problems, will help to identify initial projects and connect with organisations responsible for putting those into effect, the statement said.

“This initiative builds on the UAE’s track record of commercially driven, innovative blended finance that can be deployed to promote clean energy in emerging and developing nations,” said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28 President-designate.

It will “prioritise investments in countries across Africa with clear transition strategies, enhanced regulatory frameworks and a master plan for developing grid infrastructure that integrates supply and demand”.

To reduce barriers to investment, countries must restore the financial sustainability of local utilities while modernising basic energy infrastructure, Dr Al Jaber said.

They should also clarify development processes, eliminate the red tape delaying market lead-time and eliminate restrictions to capital flows.

Masdar has pledged $2 billion of equity and will mobilise an additional $8 billion in project finance aimed at delivering 10 gigawatts of clean energy capacity through its Infinity Power platform in the continent by 2030.

AMEA Power will help fund five gigawatts of renewable energy capacity in Africa by the end of the decade, mobilising $5 billion, with $1 billion in equity investments, and $4 billion from project finance.

The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development will provide $1 billion of assistance to address basic infrastructure needs, while the Etihad Credit Insurance will provide $500 million of credit insurance to lower risk and unlock private capital.

The investments will catalyse at least an additional $12.5 billion from multilateral, public and private sources, Dr Al Jaber said.

Dr Sultan Al Jaber addresses African leaders ahead of Cop28

Dr Sultan Al Jaber addresses African leaders ahead of Cop28

The latest initiative falls under the UAE's Etihad 7 programme, which aims to raise public and private sector funds to invest in the development of Africa's renewable energy sector. It aims to achieve 20 gigawatts of capacity to supply 100 million people across the continent with clean electricity by 2035.

Africa’s installed renewable energy capacity is set to grow to more than 530 gigawatts by 2040, from about 54 gigawatts in 2020, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena).

Solar photovoltaic capacity will rise to 340 gigawatts and wind to 90 gigawatts.

On Monday, the UAE Carbon Alliance pledged to purchase $450 million in African carbon credits by 2030, as it seeks to connect the high-integrity supply of African carbon credits to high demand from the Middle East.

A non-binding letter of intent with the Africa Carbon Markets Initiative’s Advance Market Signal was signed by Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan, president and chief executive of the UAE Independent Climate Change Accelerators (UICCA), the climate change organisation said.

Africa could be a key supplier of green hydrogen to Europe, which is currently looking to diversify its energy mix following the reduction of Russian natural gas supplies, according to Rystad Energy.

More than 52 green hydrogen projects have been announced in Africa, with production set to reach 7.2 million tonnes by the end of 2035, the Norway-based consultancy said in a report in March.

Developing countries require about $1.7 trillion per year in the clean energy sector but only managed to attract foreign direct investment worth $544 billion in 2022, Unctad, the UN intergovernmental organisation that promotes the interests of developing countries in world trade, said in its World Investment Report in July.

Africa will play a “fundamental role” in attaining the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate, officials said on Monday at the Africa Climate Summit.

The world must ensure that climate finance is more “available, affordable, and accessible” to all developing countries, including those in Africa, Dr Al Jaber, Kenya's President William Ruto and African Union Commission chairman Moussa Mahamat said.

Updated: September 08, 2023, 7:06 AM