First, allow me to welcome you all to Rwanda.
We are happy to host you, and thank you for choosing our country as the host of this year’s forum, and we are happy to have it as the first forum in Africa.
Over the past decade, significant progress has been achieved toward the 7thSustainable Development Goal, on affordable and clean energy for all.
Nevertheless, the Covid pandemic has reversed many of the gains.
Today, in Africa, more than half a billion people still do not have access to electricity.
This energy crisis coincides with the threat of climate change, to which our continent is especially vulnerable.
Switching to renewable energy is crucial. That is why creating an enabling environment to attract investment in sustainable energy is so important.
Allow me to elaborate on three ways, in which this can be accomplished on our continent.
First, expanding the use of off-grid technologies and stand-alone systems can help bring power to rural communities in Africa more quickly.
Second, going forward, we need to integrate industrial policy with sustainable energy policy.
We need to plan now, to be able to power Africa’s future industries sustainably, but without slowing down our development.
The data centres that need to be built in Africa, to support the growth of information technology services, are one example.
Vaccine manufacturing is set to grow in Africa in the coming years. We can work to make the sector green, right from the outset.
Lastly, strong public energy utilities are central to access and affordability. They need to be professionally managed and financially viable.
By integrating sustainable energy in pandemic recovery plans, we can accelerate the transition to clean power.
But the transition must be just and equitable.
This means it should align with Africa’s development priorities and aspirations, to ensure no one is left behind.
At the same time, there needs to be increased financing to developing countries to support climate adaptation, in line with international agreements.
Africa cannot carry the burden alone, especially given that its emissions did not create the climate emergency.
However, Africa will be part of the solution.
For example, we will contribute through the Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold-Chain, launched in 2020 by the Governments of Rwanda and the United Kingdom, together with the United Nations Environment Program.
This initiative is a concrete effort to help achieve the goals of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, on phasing out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
In addition to delivering financial security to farmers, this center will respond to the growing need for medical cold-chains to store vaccines and medicines.
We have a shared responsibility to ensure that our actions match our ambitions.
The diverse group of stakeholders attending this forum is a demonstration of the level of partnership required to get the job done, for our communities and our planet.
I wish you productive discussions in the coming days.
Once again, thank you for gathering in our country, and I hope you feel at home during your stay here.
I thank you for your kind attention.