2022 Tutu Fellow Bilha Ndirangu was interviewed by the Norwegian-African Business Association (NABA) on their COP27 podcast series ahead of COP27 that ran from 6-18 November 2022 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. COP27 is short for the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
In the interview, Bilha takes a look at how Africa can make the most of COP27, and consider whether this is indeed 'Africa's COP', or just COP in Africa. The podcast host for the series is journalist and 2014 Tutu Fellow, Lanre Akinola.
Bilha is the Co-Founder of Jacob’s Ladder Africa, a sustainable development hub that advances the agenda of youth in Africa towards self-reliance and productivity, with a particular focus on climate action, and leadership and governance.
Bilha says that aside from the obvious regarding climate change, Africa as a continent will be one of the worst affected. As such - and why COP27 is important - it is for this reason that Africa should be in the vanguard as far as providing climate solutions and take climate action. COP27 is important because rather than just being a climate gathering in Africa, it has the possibility of being a Africa's COP.
Lanre asked some probing questions, including how does having COP in Egypt change any of the power dynamics around climate action globally? Bilha's response was that it was up to Africa to be deliberate about how they attend the event and how they seek to move the needle on climate action - or else, it would be just another climate event, just one that happened to take place on the continent. Bilha said that the same people typically tend to attend these events, so Africa needed to have an African-centric approach rather than letting the Northern hemisphere countries drive the conversation. She said Africa is well-positioned to implement climate solutions, but that the narrative around this is often lacking. She provided an example - in parts of Kenya, the grid is almost 100% green, so it presents an opportunity to attract manufacturers seeking to have a low-climate-footprint to be located there.
She also said that because much of Africa's infrastructure is relatively underdeveloped, it affords the continent a way of leap-frogging to net zero energy generation and transmission. This is unlike most developed countries that have too transform at great cost their energy systems. For companies seeking to have a net zero manufacturing footprint, this affords Africa an economic development opportunity. With investment in next generation energy, the entire planet can benefit.
Bilha said that she hoped that by the end of COP27 the significant climate action players and decisionmakers would leave the event seeing Africa as an investment opportunity for climate action.
Listen to the entire podcast on Spotify or in your browser.