President William Ruto officially opens the Africa Climate Summit

President William Ruto making his opening remarks at the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi. [Silas Otieno, Standard]

President William Ruto has officially opened the first Africa Climate Summit (ACS) at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC).

The summit is scheduled to run from September 4 to September 6, 2023.

He opened the event on Monday; a day dubbed ministerial day, where most activities are run by ministers, as Heads of State attend to other responsibilities.

“You have entered the future, a future driven by global partnerships committed to African prosperity, inclusive growth and a liveable planet for all of us. This is no ordinary summit,” Ruto said.

In his opening speech, President Ruto termed Africa as ‘the key’ to accelerating decarbonization of the global economy and it was time everyone makes a contribution to generations to catalyze climate action.

The Head of State also said that it was time for climate actors to move from the North vs. South conversation, urging them to join forces in ending the climate crisis.

The president has further challenged governments to unlock renewable resources in various parts of the continent, as he called for commitment when investing in climate-smart agriculture, and nature conservation.

“Over 640 million Africans have no access to energy, corresponding to an electricity access rate for African countries at just over 40 percent, the lowest in the world. Kenya is on course towards achieving its 100 percent clean energy goal by 2030.” The president said.

“The country has also set a national target to achieve 100 access to Clean Cooking by 2028. Africa holds the key to global decarbonization, it's a powerhouse of untapped potential. If tapped, the continent has the potential of creating more than 13 million jobs each year.”

According to Ruto, the summit will usher in the Nairobi Declaration, a document that holds the potential to steer Africa towards a path of radical affirmative action in addressing the pressing issue of climate change.

It is a declaration that seeks to provide the backbone for a world economy that is decarbonized, sustainable, and resilient, he says.

“We have renewable energy as well as resources that can contribute to decarbonizing the global economy, these resources account for multibillion dollars in counting.”

He has also emphasized utilizing Africa’s natural carbon sinks that serve the world and clean the environment.

“Unfortunately Africa gets nothing from this. It doesn't count so much. Africa’s renewable resources stand out, we are self-sufficient, our color potential, hydropower can form a green strategy that can help countries around the globe meet their net-zero targets by 2050.”

Additional reporting by Purity Museo-Nzuki and Mactilda Mbenywe