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Africa vital for a co-ordinated energy transition: Standard Bank

Africa vital for a co-ordinated energy transition: Standard Bank
14-06-23 / Duty Editor

Africa vital for a co-ordinated energy transition: Standard Bank

Johannesburg - Switching from coal to renewable energy and meeting the estimated cost of US$1.3 trillion to meet climate change challenges are just two of the issues impacting the continent's financial institutions. Finding sustainable financial solutions to these threats, while promoting a just energy transition for Africa, will be amongst the key discussion points for financial institutions at this week's United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative's (UNEP FI) 4th roundtable for Africa and the Middle East.

This important meeting, taking place in Windhoek, Namibia on 14 and 15 June, will convene member banks, insurers, thought leaders, policy-makers, civil society organisations and academics, who are seeking defined pathways for financial systems that are sustainable and also meet societal needs.

In its commitment to drive sustainable growth and value aligned to its Social, Economic and Environmental (SEE) impact areas across its extensive African footprint, Standard Bank is the lead gold sponsor of the event. In addition to backing an initiative that aims to facilitate important discussions amongst key stakeholders, this also emphasises the bank's commitment as a responsible corporate citizen and provider of sustainable finance solutions.

"It is appropriate that as a bank which is active in 20 African markets, and is also a founding signatory to the UN Principles of Responsible Banking, that we should be supporting this event, which is helping to encourage a shared continental approach to finding sustainable financial solutions for energy, infrastructure and climate challenges facing millions of Africa's people," says Boitumelo Sethlatswe, Head of Societal Impact, Standard Bank.

"Because of their strategic positions at the centre of providing finance for projects across the spectrum of business, financial institutions are at the forefront of the energy transition. Therefore, the Standard Bank Group and other African finance providers are pivotal to finding financial solutions that ensure that development and businesses across the continent get the support they need."

"As a Group, we are committed to work steadily towards our net-zero goals. We are helping to drive this by working towards providing between R250 billion and R300 billion for sustainable projects by the end of 2026," says Sethlatswe.

Highlights already achieved by Standard Bank include successfully raising N$400 million in debt capital markets, through a green bond issuance in Namibia in 2022.

Also in Namibia are a green hydrogen project expected to produce 300,000 tons of green hydrogen a year before the end of the decade for regional and global markets, and a N$3.1 billion Swakopmund project to erect 85MW of solar panels powering electrolysers to produce the hydrogen required to supply 142 gigawatt hours of electricity per year. This project is expected to start producing electricity by 2024.

Topics that will be covered at the roundtable will include the Group's approach to advancing sustainability in banking through the Principles for Responsible Banking, the role of finance in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and embedding a Just Transition in the finance industry.

The 4th UNEP FI Regional Roundtable in Windhoek will be building on the 2021 regional events held in five regions worldwide in which more than 2,000 sustainable finance practitioners showcased advances in global sustainable finance practices.

This week's participants will exchange knowledge, share experiences, and discuss region-specific topics such as adaptation, aligning portfolios with climate risk regulation, sustainable insurance, ESG-focused finance allocations, blue economy finance, underwriting, sustainable infrastructure and cities, green bonds and finance innovation.

Central to any discussions, says Sethlatswe, will be support for communities and workers that will be negatively impacted as we transition to a lower-carbon world. Investing in skills development and support to transition into new economic activities will be critical.

"The development of responsible banking principles is crucial to achieving transformation in a just transition. Conferences like the UNEP FI Regional Roundtable are vital in driving Africa's sustainable growth. Additionally, platforms like this help us to align ourselves with global developments and ensure that Africans are readied for the transition. We are proud to be playing an active African leadership role in changing the future," concludes Sethlatswe.

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