ACS23: The Nairobi Declaration And Climate Friendly Mobility

E-mobility Drive Revitalised Following Africa Climate Summit 2023

As Africa’s crème of leaders elected to the top most seats of national governance and continental organisation successfully rallied tens of thousands of major continental decision makers and global leaders to converge at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi for the inaugural Africa Climate Summit, the rest of the world was on their marks, awaiting the green light to rush towards a future free of global warming on earth courtesy of Africa’s newly conceived “common position in the global climate change process.”

All these thanks to the now widely accepted fact that Africa is no longer willing to play the role of victim of circumstances, especially man-made circumstances that are scientifically attributed to the massive greenhouse gas emissions, and large scale burning of fossil fuels by developed countries. Instead, Africa is now ‘woke’, not only about its ability to effectively leverage on the naturally available resources such as green spaces which play the role of carbon sinks, and the strategically developed young and able human resource to play a leading role in the mitigation of, and adaptation to adverse effects of climate change globally, but also to push for reasonable financial compensation and investment from the rich countries who rely on Africa to offset their climate unfriendly emissions, decisions that would be outlined in “The African Leaders Nairobi Declaration on Climate Change”.

Announcement of The Nairobi Declaration at KICC on 6 September 2023

“The Africa Union will work out a road map for the implementation of this declaration,” said Moussa Faki during the culmination of the ACS23 on Wednesday, September 6 2023.

As much as the international community actively participated in organisation and deliberations of the ACS23, presumably in a bid to find African solutions to help Africa benefit from climate action, some climate action activists are opposed to the idea of using Africa as some sort of dumping site for climate action obligations viewing it as a move that will only leave the real money making and societal development agenda to the already rich and developed countries while Africa spends time and effort righting the wrongs which Africa has contributed little to nothing to.

“We reject forced solutions on our land,” stated Priscilla Achakpa, founder of the Women Environmental Programme, “…remove yourself from the perspective of the colonial past.” she urged the Global North

However, the Nairobi Declaration, although not legally binding, has been unanimously lauded for presenting a united African voice.

“At the summit, our shared understanding became clear: that Africa is not only the cradle of humanity, it is indeed the future,” said President Ruto while speaking as the host and champion of the ACS23 during the announcement of the Nairobi Declaration alongside African Union Council (AUC) Chairperson Moussa Faki, Presidents Salva Kiir of Sudan, Julius Maada (Sierra Leone), Sahle-Work Zewde (Ethiopia), Ismaïl Omar Guelleh (Djibouti), Isaias Afwerki (Eritrea) and Idriss Deby (Chad) and DRC Congo Prime Minister Sama Lukonde Kyenge were present. Flanking them were First Lady Rachel Ruto, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, Angola Vice President Esperança da Costa, Namibia Vice President Nangolo Mbumba, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, former Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo and 66 ministers from different countries

“We demand a fair playing ground for our countries to access the investment needed to unlock the potential and translate it into opportunities” he added.

In his closing speech at the summit, President Ruto had announced that various global partners including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), European Union (EU), and the United States of America (USA) have pledged up to 23billion US dollars donation to Africa for continental “green growth, mitigation and adaptation efforts”.

ACS23 in session
Photo credit: PCS

Various civil society groups view this gesture by leading carbon emitters as a joke for its little utility in shielding all 54 countries of Africa from unbearable costs of climate action considering that Africa’s carbon emissions add up to not more than 4% of the total global carbon emissions, therefore logically allocating the least ethical responsibility of global warming mitigation to Africa, ascribing to the view that since the bulk of the blame for global pollution rests on rich countries, they should provide the bulk of climate action financing as rightfully agreed upon in previous climate summits like Copenhagen which saw developed countries commit to donating 100billion US dollars annually to African lead climate action.

“We must all work together for Africa to become a renewable energy superpower,” said United Nations Secretary-general Antonio Guterres at the ACS23

Indeed, financing climate action did take centre stage as expected. There’s a concerted push for establishing a framework to ensure global consolidation of the required funds to decarbonise planet earth to climate friendly levels in order to equitably allocate financial load across the planet. A proposal that is enshrined in the latest Nairobi Declaration.

Announcement of the Nairobi Declaration after ACS23

“No country should ever have to choose between development aspirations and climate action,” reads the declaration in part

Speaking of National Development Goals, the Government of Kenya (GoK) has reaffirmed it’s commitment to supporting climate friendly mobility in Kenya.

Starting with its capital city Nairobi, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Roads and Transport H.E Kipchumba Murkomen in a live TV interview alongside Green Africa Foundation Founder Dr. Isaac Kalua confirmed that his ministry is determined to keep attracting transport infrastructure investment from the private sector through Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework, and the international community through various investment plans such as concessional loans.

“We intend to utilise PPPs in funding transport infrastructure projects such as airport, port, roads.” stated Murkomen while emphasising the need to have efficient and reliable transport systems to propel economic growth. The CS further explained that the President is determined to implement climate friendly transportation plans such at the flagship Nairobi Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) System.

“ We are also targeting big international players to partner with by ensuring high bankability of our transportation projects so as to attract investments,” he added highlighting an investment of Ksh. 3billion by the Korean government for the implementation of BRT line 3 which will link Nairobi CBD to its far-flung suburbs along the Dandora route.

“Plans are in place to also partner with Africa Development Bank (AfDB) for line 4, and China for line 5.” said Transport CS Murkomen

The Nairobi BRT is envisaged to reduce the need for personal vehicle ownership or daily usage.

This is in the backdrop of worryingly high imports of used cars to meet the local demand. According to verified data, by December 2022 there were a total of 4.5 million registered automotives in Kenya with vehicles accounting for 2million, while the 2.5million is made up of bikes and three wheelers. Reportedly the number has since risen by a little over 500, 000 automotives. These figures are higher than those of most countries in Europe including a country consistently ranked as one of the best countries to live in by quality of life, Sweden, where more than 60% of the national population use non-motorised transportation.

It is therefore no surprise that transport is the reason behind 80% of air pollution in Kenya’s urban areas, pollution which results in various harmful environmental effects such as respiratory illnesses, respiratory illnesses which kill 20,000 people in Kenya annually.

This alarming revelation calls for measures to reduce the need for vehicle ownership by providing feasible alternatives for the millions of Kenyans who travel several kilometres daily to make a living.

“We have improved the Nairobi Commuter Rail (NCR) to serve more people more efficiently. In time we’ll extend it to Ngong and Rongai.” stated Murkomen, adding that electric mobility will soon be a norm in Kenya “20 electric busses already operational in Nairobi alone.”

H.E President Ruto arrives at KICC in electric car
Photo credit: PCS

Electric vehicles are set to help in decarbonisation and reduction of transport costs. “For example the vehicle that H.E President Ruto drove from Stare House to the ACS23 at KICC on day one of the summit consumed only Ksh. 10 one way, meaning it’s about Ksh. 20 to and from KICC” said Green Africa’s Dr. Kalua, “It would cost only Ksh.760 to fully charge that vehicle such that it will transport you for 300km” he added In the wake of rising demand for electric vehicles, the GoK is under pressure to facilitate importation of good quality e-vehicles.

“I established a task force on 4th August 2023 to formulate a framework for electric mobility in Kenya..” said Murkomen

The taskforce has been mandated to look into quality regulation and taxation procedures with responsible government agencies such as Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) represented in the task force.

“We are applying whole government approach to deliver climate friendly investment in our country.” Murkomen explained

Some local car companies have partnered with international car manufacturers to meet the demand for e-mobility in Kenya. One such company is Autopax, the company that supplied the small yellow car that H.E President Ruto drove to the ACS23.

“There are currently orders of 314 electric vehicle units from the Government of Kenya” disclosed Kalua who also expressed his optimism about e-mobility in Kenya saying that charging the cars should not be an issue seeing as one can even charge at home just like other modern electronic devices.

Other climate friendly modes of transport set for improvement and implementation are cyclingpaths, footpaths.

“Kenya pledges to progressively grow urban transport capital financing to mass rapid transit, walking, and cycling progressively to 40 per cent of all spending on urban transport by FY 2027,” stated Murkomen during the ministerial session at ACS23

As the continent steadily moves towards advocating for the adoption of it’s common position for climate action on major global deliberations forums this year, Africans look forward to a brighter future, one where we can rise above the fog of carbon emissions to mitigate and adapt to requirements for the ambitious achievement of net zero carbon emissions, without bearing the brunt of global warming, carrying a load that is too heavy for our struggling economies.


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