While Rwanda continues to do everything possible to achieve an economy that does not harm the environment, there are many measures that are being taken and their implementation requires cooperation with different donors or partners.
Many people wonder how to implement such programs and the role of the partners and the challenges that often appear during the implementation process. TOP AFRICA NEWS spoke with the GGGI Rwanda Country Representative Mr. Okechukwu Daniel Ogbonnaya on the topics mentioned above and the role of GGGI in Greening Rwanda.
Below are excerpts of the Interview.
1. Would you start with the introduction? My name is Okechukwu Daniel Ogbonnaya and I am the Rwanda Country Representative for the Global Green Growth Institute.
2. Tell us about the GGGI Rwanda? GGGI is a treaty-based international, inter-governmental organization dedicated to supporting and promoting strong, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth in developing countries and emerging economies. We work embedded in different Government institutions at both the national and sub-national level. Because of this, each of the GGGI country programs are tailored to their unique country context and the priorities of the host country government.
GGGI Rwanda has developed a portfolio of projects to support Rwanda to develop into a low-carbon, climate resilient economy. Currently, we have developed projects under 4 work streams: 1) urban climate resilience, 2) buildings and construction, 3) waste and circular economy, and 4) sustainable mobility. These work streams have been developed in close collaboration with our key stakeholders in the Government of Rwanda. These are areas where there is a clear need and where GGGI offers a unique value add in our approach.
3. Your work involves budget, How much have you invested so far in Rwanda and in which sectors?
GGGI’s business model involves working with donors and the private sector to mobilize climate finance. For example, we work closely with organizations such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to conceptualize, design, and implement strategic projects that support the priorities and strategies of the Government of Rwanda. An example of this is a 1.8M USD project funded by the GCF Readiness project on National Adaptation Planning on flooding and landslides. This was a priority clearly identified as a need by the national government of Rwanda as well as the City of Kigali and districts at high-risk for flooding and landslides. It was identified as a need and as an area where GGGI can bring new, innovative solutions through the green growth paradigm. These include the integration of nature-based solutions to not only mitigate flooding sustainably, but also to increase biodiversity, reduce air pollution, and improve the quality of life for urban residents. A great example of this type of solution is showcased in the recently completed Nyandungu Urban Wetland Eco-Park. This is a way to make the best use of natural solutions to multiple challenges.
4. Can you tell us in your own views how Rwanda positions itself in Greening Programs?
Rwanda has always been in the forefront of green growth in the continent first with the development of a Green Growth and Climate Resilient Strategy (GGCRS) that looks beyond the medium-term economic planning cycles up to 2050. Rwanda is the first country in the continent to prepare and submit its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). From my experience working in Rwanda in the past years, there has been a great move towards mainstreaming green growth into policies, projects, and their implementation instead of green growth seen as an afterthought. This has positioned Rwanda as one of the few countries with initial lessons to share on their journey towards a climate resilient green economic model of growth. There is still more work to be done, but the most important part of that work, which in my opinion is the willingness and commitment of the leadership of the country to make this transition has already begun and in good speed. That to me positions Rwanda ahead of many others in the transition to a more sustainable future.
5. How do you rate the green growth in Rwanda? We have a green growth index that has been developed to compare different countries. This is the first benchmarked composite index designed to track green growth performance in four dimensions of green growth. The Index is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement, and Aichi biodiversity targets, and it is the first index to benchmark green growth performance against the targets of these international agreements. In this index, there are areas where Rwanda has truly excelled, and other that need more attention such as green innovation. The more data that are made available and validated, the better the index for each country featured on the index. https://greengrowthindex.gggi.org
6. What are opportunities available for Rwanda’s Green Growth? There are multiple opportunities. One that I would highlight is in the waste management sector. This is a sector that has been overlooked in the past in Rwanda but has the potential to recover valuable materials, create green jobs, and reduce the environmental impact of human activity. The Enviroserve E-waste facility is a great example of the possibilities of incorporating circular economy approaches to the challenge of electronic waste. This is not unique to Rwanda and there are several countries that are leading in terms of optimizing the way waste is sorted, separated, processed, and vaporized. Because of the potential in this sector, the Government of Luxembourg has funded a project led by the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Infrastructure with GGGI implementing the project together with the City of Kigali and WASAC. This is a great example of the way that we can combine technology transfer, capacity building, and the incorporation of green growth principles in a sector that has lagged in terms of investment and capacity. We expect that the project will open substantial opportunities for both private sector engagement and the mobilization of climate finance.
7. What are the challenges and proposed solutions for the Government policies and implementing partners?
There are challenges in terms of strengthening coordination between the different stakeholders. There are mechanisms put in place to help the different actors work together collaboratively for greater impact. But this tendency to work in silos is a challenge to meeting the ambitious climate action targets that the Government of Rwanda has set in the updated NDC. The more we work together, the greater the impact will be in terms of green growth. There is also the need for climate finance at a scale that would be able to bring the type of transformational changes and ambitions set in the green growth plans. This goes hand in hand with the related projects and programs to attract these financing and investments.
8. How do you assess Rwandans Appetite in responding to some of the initiatives in place, Let us say the use of E-motos, E-vehicles etc?
I think it’s important to recognize that the Government of Rwanda has put in place incentives and strategies to really incentivize private sector engagement in e-mobility for example. This has encouraged different actors to prioritize Rwanda in identifying opportunities in the East African region. This has resulted in multiple companies with different business models setting up their operations in Rwanda to suit the needs of a wide range of consumers from ride-hailing taxi services to electric trucks, which is targeting meeting the needs for transporting goods for small-scale farmers and traders of agricultural goods. The more the government can work with the private sector on similar initiatives, the more the different segments of the population of Rwanda can benefit.
9. What are the future projections for Rwanda’s Green Growth? Rwanda is a leading country in so many sectors. Within the GGGI network of 43 member countries, it’s incredible to see just how often Rwanda emerges as a leader and example of green growth not only in the region, but globally. Rwanda is on the right track in so many ways, and this is partially achieved through the mainstreaming of climate action in sector and sub-sector strategies. Climate action is embedded in the long-term strategies, policies, and mid-term targets across transport, the built environment, and other sectors.
10. When you look at the economic aspects do you think the financial means among Rwandans can’t be a hindrance to the full implementation of Green Growth programs?
Absolutely not. When you look at the cost of the initial investment of green growth programs, over time, these solutions are much more sustainable and long-lasting. If you look at the cost of renewables for example, transitioning to renewable energy is costly initially, but in the long-run, these solutions have proven time and time again to be more cost-effective than their business-as-usual, carbon-intensive counterparts. This is not just for Rwanda, but globally. You can see this in many peer-reviewed and evidence-based research globally. These economic aspects of the transition to a green growth path are even more needed today considering the effects of conflicts, supply chain disruptions, and challenges for a landlocked country like Rwanda. There is an urgent need to decarbonize our energy systems as soon as possible in a just and fair transition that ensures no one is left behind.It’s also important that when we talk about cost, we ask over what timescale and cost to who? For example, there are areas in the City of Kigali that have experienced recurrent flooding. Nyabugogo for example has undergone several, costly interventions. And yet the problem is yet to be solved.
How can Rwanda youth be fully involved in achieving Rwanda’s NDCs? What is your opinion on the concerns of the young people that lack of financial means may hinder their Green ambitions and what GGGI is doing to address the issue?
We understand the role of young people in providing the needed solutions for a green growth transition and to meaningfully be part of the implementation of Rwanda’s NDCs. That is the reason our active engagement and collaboration with young people through the Rwanda Greenpreneurs Network is yielding visible results from the development of their skills in green business model development to learning how to sustain and access the needed resources to grow their businesses. Our approach to the greenpreneurs network goes beyond the capital city of Kigali but supporting and seeking great ideas across the country both at the Provincial and District level. We believe that young people are the answers to not only tomorrow’s challenges but those of today and our goal is to continue to support their efforts and contribution towards the country’s green growth transition.