• Al-Hamndou Dorsouma, Ag. Director, Climate Change and Green Growth, African Development Bank (AfDB)
  • Olympus Manthata, Head of Climate Finance, Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA)
  • Thembilise Salman, Senior Professional, New Development Bank (NDB)


  • Hannah Ryder, CEO, Development Reimagined (MC)
  • Faten Aggad, Senior Advisor on Climate Diplomacy, African Climate Foundation (ACF)
  • Jill Duggan, Executive Director, Environmental Defence Fund Europe (EDF)

During Africa Climate Week 2022 in Libreville, Gabon – Development Reimagined co-hosted a side event with African Climate Foundation (ACF) and Environmental Defence Fund Europe (EDF). Our joint event convened key stakeholders in Africa’s climate finance and banking community to explore the reality of green banking in Africa. The event drew on lessons learnt to clarify what is needed from international climate financing mechanisms to unlock quality financing for green energy transitions and to achieve development goals such as Agenda 2063. The aim was to also help shift the narrative away from Africa as a ‘risky’ environment for large-scale climate investment and towards one brimming with green potential.

After a very fruitful discussion, there are several key themes that emerged from the side event. Below you can find a summary of the key talking points, as well as some important insights from our distinguished panellists.

Shifting the narrative around climate finance on the continent

When opening the panel discussion, Development Reimagined’s CEO Ms. Ryder asked participants to avoid using common tropes such as ‘bankability’ and ‘de-risking’, and instead challenged all attendees to speak to solutions at the financial and structural level. She encouraged all to think about shifting the perspectives of African countries as ‘risky’ environments for climate investment, and to explore the tools we need to shift these perspectives.

Exploring what green banking means to African countries

Ms. Ryder began by asking the panellists to explain their understanding of green banking and what it means to the continent, and what the demand for green banking is.

Dr. Dorsouma from the AfDB highlighted that ‘MDBs like the AfDB have been very active in promoting the concept of green finance, sustainable finance, as well as green banking’, and that we need to ensure that ‘funding from financial institutions, including local institutions, can target green investments and green projects…its about shifting from support to brown sector to green sector’.

He highlighted the AfDB’s initiatives over the past several years. He gave the example of the African Financial Alliance on Climate Change, which was launched in 2018 and which aims to bring all the financial institutions in Africa to the table. This has been very successful in understanding green banking and how to implement the concept on the continent.

Mr. Manthata from the DBSA followed on from Dr. Dorsouma by stressing that green banking is more about the need for ‘fit for purpose’ financing to accelerate the transition towards low-carbon economies. He also underlined the issues of utilising tools ‘that make financing easier, more specifically for private financing to come into the space and support projects especially with countries looking at more ambitious NDCS’.

Mr. Salman of the NDB highlighted that the Paris Agreement has catalysed a lot of financing in this space, with countries racing to meet their NDC targets. However, he also pointed out that the demand for green banking is still quite low, as the attitude often tends to be that the continent only contributes 2-3% of global greenhouse gas emissions and so there is no need for climate change products. However, Mr Salman pointed to ‘the driving industrialisation led by agenda 2063’ and believed that this will ‘increase the demand [for] low-carbon climate resilient economies’.

During the Q&A session one audience member posed a question around the future of green banking, and whether the institutions present believed it to be well understood or not. Ms. Ryder linked this question back to the original question on the general understanding of green banking, and also asked Ms. Aggad to address this question in her closing remarks.

Highlighting the tools and models needed to encourage green banking on the continent

Ms. Ryder asked panellists to expand on some of the tools they have been using to promote climate finance, and how have they been working with different actors to bring in new business models.

Dr. Dorsouma shared several examples of tools used by the AfDB to promote climate finance. For example, the AfDB initiated its first green bond program in 2013 and so far have been able to mobilise $10 billion to invest in 100 eligible green projects. The success of these projects was the AfDB’s realisation that they needed ‘to use specific tools to help financial institutions to green their portfolios and mainstream climate finance’.

During the Q&A session, one member of the audience asked the AfDB about the protocol for financial institutions that are not initially eligible for AfDB-led projects, and whether they provide any kind of capacity building for these institutions to become eligible for these projects. Dr. Dorsouma replied that the AfDB conducts due diligence to screen projects for approval. If there is a certain level of capacity lacking, then the AfDB can include technical assistance in the project to help the executing agency increase capacity before starting the implementation of the project.

The role of private sector and the need for long-term climate financing

Mr. Manthata gave the example of the DBSA’s Climate Finance Facility, which is co-financed by the Green Climate Fund and which has been part of the green banking movement. The DBSA conducted extensive consultations with the private sector in order to understand their pipeline and what they are not able to take forward due to certain factors.

Mr. Manthata also highlighted the issue of longer-term financing: ‘We talk about people being hesitant around risk but one of the things that came up was the concern around the ability to finance projects where you require financing for a long term.’ The DBSA uses their Climate Finance Facility to take the tail end of the project’s tenure, making it a lot easier for commercial banks to come in and thus allowing projects that would have otherwise not been financed to start to come on stream.

The question of debt sustainability

Ms. Ryder raised the issue of financing and highlighted that while many countries require financing, they are crossing their debt-sustainability thresholds. She asked the panellists to speak to how their institutions are dealing with this issue and whether they are finding ways to absorb that challenge.

Mr. Salman emphasised the importance of the structure the projects to be able to garner support from various contributors, particularly the private sector. This in turn puts lets pressure on the state institutions.

Dr. Dorsouma pointed to the  AfDB’s Debt Sustainability Framework that ensures that the AfDB does not add to debt distress that countries are already facing.

During the Q&A session Dr. Dorsouma responded to a question regarding capacity and debt sustainability when screening projects for climate risk. Dr. Dorsouma stated the AfDB’s framework helps identify opportunities to strengthen climate resilience or include a climate finance component into the project. He also stated that if a country cannot take on a loan to execute a project, the AfDB can also explore the possibility of providing grants so that the country is still able to participate in the project and benefit from the climate finance, especially if it is a regional project.

Final Reflections and closing remarks

Ms. Duggan of Environmental Defence Fund Europe providing some closing reflections on the panel discussion. For Ms. Duggan, one thing that stood out during the discussion was the ‘need for mainstreaming and capacity development, not just in Africa but globally. It’s seeing Africa’s real opportunity with Agenda 2063 coming to the fore, it’s making sure that we find a way to mainstream climate resilience into our investments to ensure that there is resilience against climate risks, including financial risk as well as physical risk’. 

Ms. Aggad from the African Climate Foundation provided the closing remarks for the event, and drew upon three specific challenges that the panel discussion had brought to the fore:

Long-term investments: How do we structure development institution’s funding to de-risk the need for long term investments? How do we mix and match funding to be able to attract private sector investment in green projects? Doing so is critical in order to ensure successful energy transitions across the continent.

Regional cooperation: How can countries come together to respond to debt sustainability challenges and ensure that countries can still access financing for important green projects?

Concessional funding: How can African countries and financial institutions increase access to concessional financing to increase access to green finance, and to enhance the interest of the private sector in green projects across the continent?

These questions and contributions from our panellists and attendees highlighted not only the major challenges in the area of climate finance on the continent, but also some of the key mechanisms being used to unlock quality financing for green energy transitions and to explore the massive green potential across the African continent.

We thank all of our distinguished panellists and attendees for their invaluable contributions to this important conversation.

We have also published Development Reimagined’s 5 Key Takeaways from UN Africa Climate Week 2022, available here.

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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 Economics and Statistics and 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.