A Plan to Spur Climate Resilient Infrastructure in Africa

December 9, 2015


Raffaello Cervigni, Lead Environmental Economist - Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice

  • The proposed Africa Facility for Climate-Resilient Investment will be a knowledge hub for decision-makers and financiers
  • Climate-smart design and planning can reduce future climate impacts on hydropower and irrigation investments, according to recent study
  • Failure to integrate climate change into infrastructure planning can lead to higher energy costs

In Africa and by Africans is the central concept behind plans to set up a new facility to spur climate resilient investment planning on the continent.

The proposed establishment of the Africa Facility for Climate-Resilient Investment is the brainchild of the World Bank, the African Union Commission and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). 

And it’s an integral part of the World Bank’s US$16 billion Africa Climate Business Plan that was officially unveiled at the climate conference, COP 21, in Paris – which will see the Bank put in about one third of the needed funds through its arm for the poorest countries, IDA, the International Development Association.

" To sustain Africa’s growth, and speed up efforts to end extreme poverty, investment in infrastructure is fundamental. Africa needs about US$100 billion a year for the next decade to fill its infrastructure gap. "

Raffaello Cervigni

Lead Environmental Economist - Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice


ECRAI panel at COP21

For Cervigni, the need for the Africa Facility for Climate-Resilient Investment is obvious. Africa has extensive infrastructure needs – and it’s also a continent that’s already feeling the impacts of climate change. Failure to combine the two, he says, could mean significant losses in revenue for governments and higher costs for people.

“Quite frankly, failure to integrate climate change into the planning and design of the infrastructure could lead to major negative development impacts, such as crop losses, traffic disruptions and significantly higher energy costs,” he says.

A recent World Bank/UNECA study shows that incorporating climate change considerations into the design and planning of infrastructure can considerably reduce future climate impacts to the physical and economic performance of hydropower and irrigation investments.

Furthermore, the analysis indicates that failure to integrate climate change in the planning and design of power and water infrastructure could entail, in the driest climate scenarios, losses of hydropower revenues of between 5 and 60 percent (depending on the basin); and increases in consumer expenditure for energy up to 3 times the corresponding baseline values. In the wettest climate scenarios, business-as-usual infrastructure development could lead to foregone revenues in the range of 15 to 130 percent of the baseline, if the larger volume of precipitation is not used to expand the production of hydropower. 

“Although it will add significant costs to our development goals, climate-proofing infrastructure provides a cost effective opportunity in the long run,” adds Elham M.A. Ibrahim, the African Union’s Commissioner for Energy and Infrastructure.

Getting right the design and planning of long-lived infrastructure like power stations, roads and canals will be the focus of the Africa-based center of technical competence and excellence.  Its aims is to assist governments, planners and developers in Africa to integrate climate change in project planning and design, thereby attracting climate finance from the Green Climate Funds and other sources.

The World Bank’s Senior Regional Advisor for the African Region, Jamal Saghir, promises it will be a knowledge hub for decision makers and “a different way for us at the World Bank to do financing.”  With a fundraising target of US $50 million by 2020, the new facility hopes to spur more climate-smart investments and lead the way to a more climate-resilient future for this continent that is home to more than one billion people.

Mauritania’s Minister of Environment, Amedi Camara, is optimistic that the new institution will help his country to design a roadmap for future urban development, particularly on its coastlines.

“This technical Facility will help our countries plan for climate impact, especially in planning for impacts on our most vulnerable people by preserving the natural resources they rely on,” he notes.

The Facility’s activities will include:  creating an open data platform; developing guidelines on how to integrate climate risks in key climate-sensitive sectors, such as water, energy and transport; providing advisory services on climate-smart investment planning and design; and conducting training and capacity building in the region.  Collaborators will include CR4D, Future Climate for Africa and other related initiatives in addition to the World Bank Group, African Union and UNECA.