5 Takeaways from Africa Climate Week 2022

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Our Development Reimagined team joined more than 1,200 delegates at the recent UN Africa Climate Week (ACW) in Libreville, Gabon. Over the course of several days we listened to expert panels, engaged with key stakeholders, and gained a deeper understanding of the major climate-related challenges facing African countries in the run up to COP27 in Egypt this November.

Development Reimagined also worked to facilitate key discussions and provide innovate solutions to tackle climate change on the continent. During our side event ‘Green Banking in Africa – the Reality and the Need’, which we co-hosted with the African Climate Foundation (ACF) and Environmental Defence Fund Europe (EDF), we challenged existing financial frameworks and brainstormed how these can be restructured to stimulate green growth across the continent.

Having now reflected on our experiences at ACW 2022, we can highlight five major issues that were central to discussions in Libreville. These issues give us an important insight into the upcoming COP27 in Egypt, also referred to as Africa’s COP, and what key issues African stakeholders will no doubt bring to the table.

Just Transition

At a separate forum organized by the African Development Bank and the African Climate Foundation (ACF), experts therein spoke on the imperative need for African countries to develop unique strategies for implementing a just energy transition. The forum was titled The Just Transition in the African Context and was hosted on the side-lines of the Africa Climate Week event. The senior advisor on climate diplomacy, Faten Aggad spoke on the importance of patience as per securing consensus for the so-called Just Transition, reason being to ensure inclusivity. According to reporting by Nigeria’s ThisDayLive, she also highlighted the issues hindering scale, because of gaps between financing commitments and disbursements, although the energy transitions could be possible at household levels.

The newly launched Just Transition Initiative is supported by the Climate Investment Funds and is currently focused on building consensus for a working definition of a just transition that can be implemented properly. In addressing the wider issues preventing the implementation of a just energy transition, Hind Chawki – the head of environmental, social and corporate governance, global credit markets, Africa/Pakistan, Standard Chartered – posited that the global health crisis event complicated the implementation of the initiative and in many African countries, the rising inflation and debt further prevented actions its actualization.

Still on the subject of Just transition – the main question still revolves around the initiative’s application to other countries, there is also the focus on development potential with focus on energy and access to gas. Furthermore, it is crucial that conversations and commitments should be more on value addition, manufacturing of green goods/renewables, a subject that is currently underfunded and of little organizational focus. As far as commitments go, the World Economic Forum reported on the government of Kenya’s intention to be powered entirely by green energy by 2020. The fact that the target was not met, it is a clear demonstration of the shortcomings of the climate debate and lack of willingness to confront and eliminate changes. Another factor of interest at ACW was the lack of emphasis on industrialization and developing manufacturing capabilities. JT conversations also need to consider social and economic impacts of such transitions etc. Also recognizing that the just transition framework that is proposed is asking African countries to do something that has never been done before, without promises or sufficient financing. But this also gives countries the opportunity to decide what JT means in different contexts etc. As we saw in the Development Reimagined’s recent analysis ‘Bolstering Africa’s Strategic Climate Change Engagement with China’, African countries have pretty good GHG emissions reduction targets considering that emissions from the continent are overall extremely low. And just transitioning to RE is only a small part of a much bigger picture. It’s a really disjointed conversation.

Nature-based Solutions

On the aspect of nature-based solutions especially through forestry and so-called carbon markets, there is the understanding of the technical and visionary posture of these proposed solutions. With the link to debt swaps and other financial instruments, there are many international partners seeking opportunities to key in. On the other hand, African representation seems more focused on promoting the idea and trading commodities without much plans on how to shape the market, control prices, or even capture it. There should be more focus around the type of available incentives connected to the activities. Conversely, there is the valid question as to whether the need for financial incentives are problematic in and of themselves, meaning, why must there be financial incentive to execute something for public benefit such as generating accessible cheap and accessible energy for people in countries around Africa.

Moving to the matter of financing, Davinah Milenge, principal programme coordinator in the AfDB’s Climate Change Department spoke on the importance of the Africa NDC hub and its role in allowing the delivery of commitments with efficiency and at scale. She also cited the Desert to Power initiative as a holistic strategy to encourage growth, inclusivity, and regional integration. The initiative is intended to add 10Gw of solar generation capacity for electricity provision to roughly 250 million people in 11 countries of the Sahel by 2030.

Adaptation and Loss and Damage

A crucial subject tackled through the African Climate Week (ACW) was on solutions to climate related environmental damage and loss. Also, there was as expected, various forum on ways to adapt solutions to different contexts. Conversely, as new funds were being created and announced by organizations like the International Monetary Fund, and the African Development Bank, discussions did not approach the subject of reparations and also there was the tendency to conflate L&D financing with adaptation financing. There was also attention imbalance, because higher income countries were lauded for announcing their commitments to so-called ‘net-zero’ pledges, a term which has been critiqued as subtle permission allowing heavy industry to avoid changing core destructive practices because of mutual investment in restorative practices. Alternatively, no cover was given to the African countries that have also committed to ambitious adaptation plans with percentages of their GDP allocated to said plans.

The Africa Adaptation Summit was held in the same context as the ACW in Gabon, only difference being that it occurred in Rotterdam. With little attention from European media and governments alike, the event which was supposed to address Africa’s exposure to the impacts of climate shock, was attended by one western head of state the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. The AU head Macky Sall took the opportunity to lambast the dismal attendance, saying ‘I cannot fail to note with a touch of bitterness the absence of the industrialized world’, further emphasizing ‘these countries are the main polluters of our planet and it is they who should finance adaptation.’

President Tshisekedi of the DRC echoed the AU Chief’s sentiment adding, ‘the African continent has the smallest impact on climate change but paradoxically suffers the majority of its consequences.

Public Financing

On the issue of financing, there is no doubt that the private sector has a big role in making mobilising and providing financing for the transition. Our side event, ‘Green Banking in Africa – the Reality and the Need’, explored how both African institutions and external partners must act to scale up green banking on the continent. This included a discussion on how various external financial structures and old business models need to be reimagined in order for this scale up to truly happen.

Already the Africa Development Bank is leading on developing green banks across the region to provide local, specialised finance facilities ready to invest in sustainable projects. Meanwhile the Africa Cities Water Adaptation Fund and the Africa Forests Restoration fund are blending both private and public funding by investing in projects and offering grants for analytical support to develop action plans for African cities. Standard Chartered bank has set aside $300 billion dollars of sustainable financing in Asia and Africa. Additionally, UNECA’s Director for technology suggested as a means of improving financing, that Nationally Determined Contributions should be added to national budgets thereby being positioned for priority funding.

It is widely accepted that there is need for concessional finance and regional finance programs geared towards improving logistics, thinking of the effective and continued application and adaptation of the AfCFTA. There was also the overall sense that concrete commitments to support finance project were not going to materialise. Indeed, through most of the ACW, there was hardly any forum that dealt with debt as anything other than a ‘risk’ or ‘burden’ to financially vulnerable countries. There was a stark scarcity of those that tackled the quality of existing debt and strategies for freeing up financing. The Africa Climate Week also exposed that there needs to be more of a productive conversation around harmful international financing frameworks.

Another issue where there was consensus that the aforementioned “Just Transition” cannot be looked at as merely an energy issue, but a socioeconomic problem as well. H.E. Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, emphasized the need “to unlock long-term, climate resilient development in order to operationalise and boost intra African trade in a manner that contributes to climate-positivity.” Furthermore, Prof. Lee White echoed a point made by President Ali Bongo Ondimba earlier during the ACW “let Africa lead on climate issues, the continent has a lot to offer.”

Private Financing

Without much surprise, there was much push for private financing initiatives especially on matters around ‘de-risking and creating bankable products.’ At the same time there was the consensus by representatives of financial power blocs that African debt is expensive. Furthermore, there is the understanding that any commitments to mobilise capital may still be redirected to the traditional areas. There was a lot of rhetoric from various advocates of rapid action and the need for immediate financing but not much on how it is to be done or achieved. Additionally, there should be deep consideration to how African countries need to fit in a new and balanced mould. There should be the focus on improving and highlighting access to available opportunities in private financing.

A highlight session at the ACW was hosted by partners of the Africa Nationally Determined Contribution hub (NDCs) and was titled Enabling faster and efficient NDC support through advocacy and partnerships. Partners included the African Union Commission and the African Development Bank among others. For clarity, the NDC hubs are a collaborative platform for partners to leverage strengths with the aim of supporting African countries to deliver their targets in time and efficiently. Interestingly, Prof. Lee White Gabon’s Minister of Water, Forest, the Sea and Environment used the opportunity to stress that as timber constitutes one of Gabon’s key sectors, it should not be embargoed because it is certified, and produced in a legal and sustainable manner.

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Research Analyst

Edmond is a research analyst who is passionate about sustainable development, innovation, and the environment. Passionate about climate financing, he firmly believe there is a more reliable system to promote equality, growth, and welfare in societies without affecting the ecosystem. Through his skills, knowledge and experienced gained over 7 years, he wants to make an impact in the world of development. Edmond holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Korea Development Institute and a BA Degree (Honors) in Business from University of Derby.


    Founder and CEO

Hannah Ryder is the Founder & CEO of Development Reimagined. A former diplomat and economist with 20 years of experience, named one of 100 most influential Africans in 2021, she is also Senior Associate for the Africa Program of the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), sits on the Board of the Environmental Defence Fund, and is a member of UAE's International Advisory Council on the New Economy. Prior to her role at DR, Ms Ryder led the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s work with China to help it scale up and improve its cooperation with other developing countries, including in Africa. She has also played various advisory roles for the UN and OECD and co-authored the seminal Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change in 2006.


Deputy Director

Leah Lynch is Deputy Director of Development Reimagined (DR), and head of the China office. Leah has over 10 years of experience in development and has lived in China for over 8 years. Leah has also travelled extensively around Asia and Africa for research. Leah supports the strategic direction of the team across China, with a mission to deliver high quality research on sustainable development and poverty reduction. Leah is also Chair of the Sustainability Forum at the British Chamber of Commerce in China, providing direction on sustainability initiatives for British and Chinese business. Leah has also consulted on various evaluations on UK aid (ICAI) and is a specialist on development cooperation from the UK and China. Leah has also consulted on various UN projects, including providing support to the UN China team during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Prior to DR, Leah was at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China, supporting the UN’s portfolio on communication strategies, China’s South- South Cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Before UNDP, Leah lived and worked in Kenya developing sustainable water policies for the Kenyan government.


China-Africa Policy Analyst

Yike Fu is a Policy Analyst and has been responsible for leading numerous areas of work, including on debt analysis in Africa and beyond, and China-Africa trade and investment logistics and analysis. She is the co-author of “African Debt Guide”, in which she challenged the narrative that Africa is in the midst of a new debt crisis by analysing data back to the 1970s and adopting new metrics to present the real story behind the data. She also developed a benchmark to compare the financial distribution of development partners such as the UK, US, Japan, France and China in Africa. Prior to her role at DR she worked at the International Finance Corporation and African Union Representational Mission to the US. She holds a Masters in International Affairs from George Washington University.


Research Analyst

Judith is a Research and Policy Analyst, where she specialises in Africa-China relations, international development, and diplomacy. During her time at Development Reimagined, Judith has co-authored several articles published in The Diplomat on debt and China-Barbados relations and was quoted by China Daily in a piece on Women Rights in China. Previously, Judith worked as a research analyst for an Advocate and Commissioner and Oats office in Kenya.


Policy Analyst

Ovigwe specialises in geopolitics with particular reference to Africa in a changing Global Order. He is adept at critically analysing the politics of contemporary development processes and providing insight into the geopolitical interests that influence them. His work includes research, publications, tailored briefings and advising on global and regional trends, and issues at the nexus of geopolitics and development. Ovigwe appears frequently in media around the world such as Al Jazeera, TRT World, SABC, CGTN, BBC Radio, and other platforms.


Policy Analyst

Jing leads China-African health and agriculture cooperation research at Development Reimagined, having managed our FOCAC Policy Analysis and Advocacy project. She is also the co-author of “China-Africa Health Cooperation under FOCAC Umbrella”, in which she analysed China’s commitments around health cooperation since the first FOCAC summit and deepdived into four African countries’ health overview, challenges and cooperation with China as cases studies. Before DR, Jing worked at GIZ Cambodia on M&E of a disability advocacy project. She also worked as a translator with Chinese medical team in Benin.


Trade Policy Analyst

Patrick is an International Trade Policy and Trade Law Expert with over 5 years of experience. His expertise includes trade law, trade policy analysis and regional integration. He is currently engaged with Development Reimagined as a Senior Trade Analyst and was the lead author of Development Reimagined's recent Report on Africa-China Relations titled "From China-Africa to Africa- China: A Blue Print for a Green and Inclusive Continent-Wide Strategy Towards China." and “Reimaging FOCAC Going Forward.” Patrick has previously consulted for the East African Community, UNECA and for the Kenya Ministry of Trade.


Senior Policy Analyst 

Rosemary is our Senior Policy Analyst. She is a skilled policy analyst and has previously worked as a UK civil servant. She is studying Human Rights at Birkbeck, University of London with a research focus on international law in the context of health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.


Project Manager and Africa-China Communication Assistant

Jade is a Project Manager for Development Reimagined’s flagship project Africa Unconstrained, which focuses on financing needs and debt vulnerabilities of African countries. Her research focuses on China-Africa development finance alongside debt vulnerabilities, infrastructure needs and South-South cooperation. She has worked with a breadth of stakeholders from China, Africa and the wider international community, including governments, private sector, NGOs and civil society. Her writing has appeared in a number of publications, including The Africa Report, The China-Africa Project, The Diplomat and more. Jade holds a Master’s in China and Globalisation studies from King’s College London.


Programme Manager

Rosie is the Project Manager of Africa Reimagined (AR) at Development Reimagined (DR) where she supports high-end African brands with entering the Chinese market by operating services such as trademark protection, Chinese market research, Chinese partnership building, and Africa to China logistical support and import/export services. Rosie has worked with DR for over two years now with proven success in helping high-end African brands navigate the Chinese market. She is extremely passionate about her work because more African brands selling in the Chinese marketplace means African countries can export MORE value-added goods, create MORE jobs and foster MORE innovation in African countries.

Rosie is also alumni of the School of International Studies at Peking University in Beijing where she is also an editor at the Peking Africa Think Tank. PATT is led by a diverse group of scholars who specialise in African Studies within the context of Sino-Africa relations.



Lauren has lived in six countries from the Americas to Europe and Asia and speaks both French and Spanish proficiently. At Development Reimagined, Lauren’s research focuses on climate action both in the Asia-Pacific and in Africa, and how countries are using tools such as SDGs and Covid-19 action to build a more climate-resilient future. She holds a Masters in International Relations from Leiden University.



Etsehiwot holds a Masters’s degree in Development Studies from the London School of Economics. She has diverse experience in humanitarian and development issues by working in both multilateral organizations and international non-governmental organizations. Etsehiwot is currently a consultant focusing on the SDGs and development finance.


Economist Consultant

Dibekulu is an economist by training. He holds an MSc in International Development Studies from Palacky University Olomouc, an MSc in Development Economics from the University of Clermont Auvergne, and an MSc in Economics, Finance, and International Integration from the University of Pavia. At Development Reimagined, he works as an Economist consultant. He has strong data analysis skills, with research interests centring around development finance, impact assessment, food security, and agricultural insurance.


Project Manager

Osaru is a health professional with an MSc in Health Systems Policy and an interest in women’s health and population management. At Development Reimagined, she applies her health sector experience to global health research and collating locally applicable development insights from China.


Research Analyst

Ferdinando’s research at Development Reimagined is centred on South-South Cooperation dynamics, specifically on the analysis of Chinese investment and debt flows in Africa and their linkages to African industrialisation. He is currently a Yenching Scholar at Peking University, after having graduated from the University of Cambridge with an MPhil in Development Studies.


Research Analyst

David is a Research and data analyst at Development Reimagined. His scholarly focus is mostly on interdisciplinary research in demographic economics and development with interests in migration, economic development and policy, education, health and subjective well-being. He is currently a PhD scholar at Nelson Mandela University from which he also holds B.com Economics and Statistics and M.com respectively.


Research Analyst Kenya

Ivory is a Kenyan lawyer with experience in policy research and analysis. She also supports the communications team at DR. Ivory speaks English, Swahili and French.


Research And Data Analyst China 

Joy Ene is a Research and Data Analyst at DR. Joy is passionate about African/global development, poverty eradication and trade policies between underdeveloped and developing countries. She is also a fourth-year student of International Economics and Trade at the  Liaoning University, Shenyang, China. She serves as the President of the Student Union, Liaoning University, International Students chapter.


Research Analyst 

Chensi Li is a research analyst. She has previously worked for local NGOs in Nigeria and Cameroon and think-tanks in China.  Her research areas include Sino-African relations, African foreign affairs, public diplomacy, state-building and national governance.

Yixin Yu

Research Analyst 

Yixin is a Junior Research Analyst and her focus areas is on public-private partnership and entrepreneurship. She has over three years of working experience in both private and public sectors in Ethiopia. She was the China Liaison Officer for project ‘Partnership for Investment and Growth in Africa’ at International Trade Centre, where she accumulated rich experience in investment and trade promotion


Founder and CEO

Hannah Ryder is the Founder & CEO of Development Reimagined. A former diplomat and economist with 20 years of experience, named one of 100 most influential Africans in 2021, she is also Senior Associate for the Africa Program of the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), sits on the Board of the Environmental Defence Fund, and is a member of UAE's International Advisory Council on the New Economy. Prior to her role at DR, Ms Ryder led the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s work with China to help it scale up and improve its cooperation with other developing countries, including in Africa. She has also played various advisory roles for the UN and OECD and co-authored the seminal Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change in 2006.