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China's initiatives can help fight climate change in Africa

By Dennis Munene | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-05-19 09:28
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In Africa's economic recovery strategies for the post-COVID-19 era, countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo are embracing the trinity of unification, regionalism and multilateralism to spur industrialization and economic growth, and to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

It has been estimated that more than 100 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty in Africa due to the devastating impacts of climate change.

Currently, the DRC is faced with the challenge of having the world's third-largest population living in poverty. As a new member of the East African Community, the DRC joins the regional economic bloc with about 60 million people who live on less than $1.90 a day, the international poverty line. This comes at a time when the country, which has a population of more than 94 million, is nonetheless rich in natural resources, has significant arable land, hydropower and immense biodiversity, as well as the world's second-largest rainforest.

Like most African countries, the DRC is determined to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. However, as a country that has been ravaged by conflict, political instability, acute food insecurity, health crises and extreme poverty, the DRC faces the challenge of fulfilling its intended nationally determined contributions of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2030, compared with 1990 levels.

By tapping into China-Africa cooperation, the DRC stands a big chance of fulfilling its obligations under the nationally determined contributions and transforming itself into a high-tech industrial nation powered by clean and smart energy.

China has unveiled the Global Security Initiative and Global Development Initiative, two public goods that can be a game-changer in transforming the African continent.

Under the pillar of the Global Security Initiative, China has asserted that peace and development are inextricably linked. Without peace, there is no development. To this end, China has launched the initiative to support countries that have been ravaged by conflict, such as the DRC, in embracing dialogue rather than arms. As part of the African Union Agenda 2063 of silencing the guns on the continent, China has demonstrated its willingness to assist Africa in affirming its peace and security architecture.

Currently, various rebel groups in the DRC have turned the rich rainforest ecosystem into their theater of conflict. This has resulted in deforestation and river pollution.

UNICEF has reported that the DRC has one of the 10 highest deforestation rates in the world, with the second-largest area of primary forest destroyed in 2020, after Brazil. This wanton destruction of the rainforest has further contributed to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, which poses danger to the people of the DRC. As a countermeasure, the Global Security Initiative will provide an avenue for all warring groups in the DRC to embrace dialogue and ensure that protection of the ecosystem is at the top of the country's agenda.

In addition, the Global Development Initiative, in conjunction with the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative, will help transform the DRC into a high-tech industrial nation powered by clean and smart energy.

The DRC is the world's leading producer of cobalt and the fourth-largest producer of copper, which are used in the manufacturing of batteries and assembly of electric cars, respectively.

In order to curb the effects of climate change, China is implementing major policies to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles, with experts predicting that EVs will account for 40 percent of all car sales there by 2030. Thus, in advancing China-DRC cooperation, especially in the sector of trade in cobalt and other metallic elements and minerals, the DRC will see its economy grow tremendously as it helps China meet its EV target.

Furthermore, under the FOCAC framework and the BRI, China's Sinohydro Corp and China Railway Group are implementing major projects in the DRC to tap into the country's rich hydropower potential. This is evident in the investment of about $660 million for a hydroelectric plant in the DRC's southeastern region to ease the electricity deficit in the copper-mining region.

Indeed, China's quest to curb the effects of climate change is unstoppable. The DRC is among the many African countries that can work with China under its initiatives and defeat the threats and impacts of climate change, which are felt globally.

The author is executive director of the China-Africa Center at the Africa Policy Institute in Kenya.

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