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World Economic Forum for Africa Addresses Energy and Sustainable Development Challenges

6 May 2011: The 21st session of the World Economic Forum on Africa, which convened in Cape Town, South Africa, from 4-6 May 2011,  offered an opportunity for representatives from business, government and civil society to explore opportunities and risks facing the continent under three thematic pillars: shaping Africa's role in the new reality; fostering Africa's new champions of growth; and building partnerships for inclusive development.

Several sessions addressed Africa's sustainable development and energy. The session on Africa's new energy architecture concluded that Africa must take the renewable sources route, although fossil fuel generation will remain dominant for some years. Session participants noted that while many countries could become exporters of renewable electricity, a "balanced approach" is needed, energy security concerns must be addressed, and private sector involvement must be secured through tax incentives and long-term buying commitments.

The session on “water for a growth-thirsty region” addressed the use of water for energy production, agricultural efficiency and governance challenges. Participants concluded that in the face of growing demands from agriculture and industry, water cannot continue to be treated as a free or cheap social good. Furthermore, water supply to ecosystems must be secured, and sound planning for appropriate water allocation requires cooperation of all stakeholders and competing users.

The session on "growing green" stressed the role of regional collaboration for investment, called for making green projects bankable, and noted that African agriculture has the potential to increase productivity while creating wealth for farmers. Participants noted that Africa will need a significant proportion of global climate change funds to meet climate change targets, including by leveraging private money.

On climate change, the leaders of South Africa, Gabon and Kenya pledged to take a united stance at the 17th session of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP 17) and the seventh session of the Meeting of the Parties (COP 7) to the Kyoto Protocol in Durban, South Africa, in November 2011, with a view to shaping a legally binding agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol. [WEF Africa Web Portal]