The South Centre’s Board approved in September 2022 its Programme of Work 2023-2025 where the policy dimensions of digital transformation are highlighted as one of the priority areas for developing countries, including the need to harness digital technologies in education, health and the production of goods and services, support the development of a domestic digital industry, improve their digital infrastructure, advance digital equity and inclusion, effectively tax the digital companies and contribute to shaping the digital governance architecture to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Following the call made in the Declaration on the Commemoration of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the United Nations (A/RES/75/1) for improved digital cooperation, the United Nations (UN) Secretary General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation and his report ‘Our Common Future’, the South Centre submits the following written contribution to the UN Secretary General ahead to the Summit of the Future with the objective of providing support to developing countries in the intergovernmental process concerning the digital transformation.
Development Priorities for Africa in 2021 and Beyond
By Judith Amelia Louis
The author posits that Covid-19 is not the only major problem facing the global South and Africa in particular, although it is the most pressing for the times 2020-2021. The writer attempts to present important priority areas for attention by policymakers and decision makers at the national and regional levels in Africa within the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The paper recognizes that the social, economic, and political problems facing Africa are common to all its nation States and calls upon the African Union to play a more proactive role in shaping policy programs to address these persistent problems, including the crafting of statesmen genuinely committed to ‘people-centered development’. The article discusses the issues impacting select priorities of socio-economic welfare; improved governance; human capital investment; regularization of migration and stemming the ‘brain drain’. Suggested policy actions are prescribed as solutions towards achieving development. Urgent action in controlling their economies with the acquisition and retention of requisite skills and technology is the undertone of the paper given the picture of poverty characterizing basic needs data for the continent. For example, in the health sector there are shortages of medical personnel, a situation magnified by the Covid pandemic.
The author envisions Africa’s development utilizing its vast untapped potential including, inter alia, a young population.
Webinar Series: Powering Africa after Covid-19: Options for Energy
Webinar 1: Carbon Trading: Panacea or Placebo for Africa’s Energy and Climate Policies?
Building on the first webinar series that took place in July 2020, this next series will focus on identifying the various energy and development options that are present for African policymakers, drawing on the policy
and technical expertise of African and international experts and policymakers.
The first webinar “Carbon Trading: Panacea or Placebo for Africa’s Energy and Climate Policies?” will investigate various perspectives about the potential use of carbon pricing and carbon trading mechanisms in Africa as part of its energy, climate and development policy mix. Experts from Africa and around the world will be invited to look into the challenges and opportunities that carbon pricing and carbon trading policies may have for Africa, drawing on previous experiences with respect to REDD+, the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism, and other experiences, and on on-going policy discussions with respect to Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Invited speakers for this webinar will be from the African Development Bank, African climate change policy implementors and civil society, and European and Chinese experts in their respective carbon trading regimes.
South Centre Semester Report, 1 January to 30 June 2020
This Semester Report summarizes the activities undertaken by the South Centre during the period 1st January to 30 June 2020. It is intended to provide information, organized by themes, about recent developments in the areas covered by the Centre’s Work Program, meetings organized or co-organized by the Centre to examine particular issues or provide analytical support for negotiations taking place in various international fora, and conferences and other meetings where the Centre has participated. It also informs about publications made.
Pathways for leapfrogging to reconcile development and climate change imperatives in Africa
By Smail Khennas and Youba Sokona
A just energy transition toward low carbon emissions pathways is increasingly a priority not only to cope with the adverse impacts of climate change but also for achieving more sustainable economic and social development of the African continent. Fortunately, to optimize its energy mix for development according to sustainability criteria, Africa can take advantage of a rapid energy transition, thanks to its huge and largely untapped renewable energy potential and its abundance of a less polluting fossil fuel, namely, natural gas. Moreover, the fact that most of the infrastructure for energy systems in Africa is not yet built, particularly in sub-Saharan countries, offers these countries a good opportunity for leapfrogging. This Policy Brief explores guiding principles and pathways for a low carbon energy transition, including leapfrogging opportunities, energy system design and social innovation.
Webinar Series: Energy for sustainable development in Africa in the post-COVID19 world – looking for the New Normal
Webinar 2: Sustainable Energy for Africa: transition through growth. How to boost output, improve access and reduce impact on the nature and society? Technologies, scenarios, strategies, sources of finance and business models.
Africa, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, has generally low levels of socio-economic development and energy usage. The COVID-19 outbreak and its consequent economic downturn present additional challenges and pose questions requiring urgent answers. Success of the pandemic measures depend upon, among other elements, on a strategic vision reflecting current situation and future uncertainties; and aligning interests of all stakeholders. In order to build such strategic vision, we have invited leading experts in our webinars to facilitate information gathering and to generate ideas for further work on strategies development and stakeholders’ engagement necessary for the continent’s energy transition in the post-COVID-19 world.
Flirting with the Private Sector: The GCF Private Sector Facility — achievements, challenges and constraints in engaging the private sector
By Rajesh Eralil, Mariama Williams and Dianyi Li
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is committed to include the private sector as both driver and beneficiary of climate action. It envisions in particular the inclusion of not only large enterprises, but puts much emphasis on the cooperation with micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in developing countries. This paper evaluates the state of play of the GCF work with the private sector and its MSMEs. It finds that the fund’s success in stimulating private sector engagement has been underwhelming and imbalanced. To begin with, only a minority of GCF projects are in fact private and a considerable amount of these projects operate through multilateral and other public institutions. GCF’s private sector projects show on top of that a strong bias towards energy access and generation, while only little funding goes to adaptation. Attempts to include MSMEs in developing countries have moreover been largely unsuccessful, although MSMEs constitute an important pillar of developing countries’ economies. It is suggested that there is a need for a bottom-up approach when dealing with the private sector in developing countries, including a more sustained and sustainable focus on MSMEs, including capacity building of MSME networks.
In a more and more climate change threatened world, Africa’s energy vision should be premised on moving from an energy landscape based on underdeveloped and carbon intense pathways to a modern, clean and decentralized energy system. This transition is a critical enabler of meaningful and endogenous socio-economic development. While the continent may face a broad set of challenges in achieving this vision, it has at the same time the opportunity to avoid the fossil fuel lock-in that many industrialized countries face and to take advantage of vast supplies of untapped energy resources and/or any stranded asset problem. The Africa Energy Transition Program in the making under the auspices of the African Energy Commission forms a continent-wide and coordinated approach in facilitating the required transformation for the realization of Africa’s development aspiration.
Least Developed Countries Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative for Sustainable Development (LDC REEEI)
The Least Developed Countries Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative for Sustainable Development (LDC REEEI) recognizes that while the energy challenges facing least developed countries (LDCs) are enormous so too are the opportunities. LDCs will work together to embark on transformative action, set their own course, and take charge of their own future though pioneering a model of energy and development that is in accordance with what both people and the planet need. The LDC REEEI can make a major contribution towards a future that delivers on aspirations for 100% energy access, renewable energy and best practices in energy efficiency and use – and in so doing provide leadership to help place us on path to a cleaner, fairer and more prosperous world for all. The climate action summit to be held in New York on 23 September, offers an opportunity to explore ways of supporting LDCs to implement REEEI. The South Centre is supporting LDCs’ efforts in this challenging journey.
Inequality is one of the greatest challenges that the world needs to face. Inequality is intimately linked with poverty. Although there has been progress in reducing poverty, a large part of the global population (overwhelmingly living in developing countries) is still denied access to a dignified life. While no poverty and reduced inequality are two of the outstanding Sustainable Development Goals, these and other goals are unlikely to be achieved by 2030. In fact, inequality is on the rise. Changing this situation will certainly require significant efforts at the national and regional level. But it also requires an international architecture that supports those efforts by respecting the policy space that countries need and coordinating constructive actions within the multilateral system. The current initiatives to ‘reform’ this system will only be legitimate if they recognize the gaps in the levels of development and contribute to effectively address them under a fair, pro-development system of rules. Please see last month’s SouthViews on “Understanding global inequality in the 21st century” by Jayati Ghosh, development economist and Professor of Economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University.