With COP27 being held from 6-18 November 2022, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, the success of this year’s climate negotiations will depend on whether the concerns of African nations are addressed. High on the agenda is the issue of climate finance and the need for developed countries to scale-up and deliver their commitments in line with developing countries’ vulnerabilities.
The rapidly worsening impacts of climate change, the global energy and food crises, and the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19 have made closing the climate finance gap even more pressing for African countries. In April 2022, South Africa experienced its deadliest flood on record while the Horn of Africa is currently facing its worst drought of the last four decades. Furthermore, with a population of 1.4 billion – projected to double by 2050, mostly in cities – Africa, and especially Sub-Saharan Africa, is now the world’s fastest urbanizing region. To mitigate the potentially devastating impacts of uncontrolled urbanization in favor of a sustainable and climate-resilient urban future, African cities need access to far greater levels of finance than is currently available for their climate projects.
CDP, in partnership with ICLEI, engages with hundreds of local governments on environmental disclosure, helping them to measure and manage greenhouse gas emissions, identify climate risks, and set emissions reduction targets alongside actions to protect their most vulnerable populations. In 2021 and 2022, 53 cities across 22 African countries disclosed a total of 181 climate projects through CDP-ICLEI Track. To respond to the challenge of implementing climate-resilient infrastructure at scale, CDP Matchmaker provides insights and catalyzes action for sustainable and resilient infrastructure projects across the globe. Greater project data visibility is key to accelerating local governments’ access to the right types of project support and financing opportunities.
This snapshot offers valuable information on the types of projects African cities are seeking to advance for climate action, key areas for private and public investment, regional and sectoral needs, and challenges.
This snapshot features data provided by the 53 African cities, located across 22 countries. With a combined population of nearly 482 million, these cities represent roughly 34% of the continent’s total population and approximately 75% of its urban population (630 million). Ranging from solid waste management to water management, urban mobility to clean energy generation and access, these 53 cities reported a total of 181 climate infrastructure projects in need of funding and technical assistance.
To view projects disclosed within each African country and sub-regions please click on the map below. A pop-up window will open a downloadable spreadsheet with all the projects.
The data below is collected from the self-disclosed responses to CDP-ICLEI Track in 2021 and 2022. To read individual disclosures from local governments, click here.
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Nearly all the cities (51) that disclosed projects through CDP-ICLEI Track in 2021 and 2022 are in Sub-Saharan Africa. Cities in South Africa reported the highest number of projects, followed by Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya, and Nigeria. From a sub-regional perspective, the data shows a relatively even distribution of reported projects across Eastern, Western, Middle, and Southern Africa.
Of the 181 total projects, 132 (72% of projects disclosed in the region) reported individual project costs – worth US$8.8 billion in total, with an investment need of US$3.7 billion. However, this total self-reported investment figure is a significant under-estimate, as the scale of funding needed by African cities is significantly greater for infrastructure. Latest estimates suggest that financing urban climate action in Sub-Saharan Africa alone will require an average annual investment of US$125 billion – exponentially more than the US$3 billion the region attracted between 2017-2018.
The projects feature a wide range of cost estimates due to variations in project size and stage of development. Most of the projects that reported costs are relatively small scale, with nearly 48% amounting to less than US$500,000. However, given that many projects lacked full cost estimates, the true costs are likely to be significantly higher.
In 2021 and 2022, out of a total of 181 reported projects, the project sectors with the highest number of reported projects by African cities were waste management (50 project - 27%), water management (28 projects – 15.5%), transport (27 projects – 15%), renewable energy (25 projects – 14%), energy efficiency and buildings (29 projects – 10% and 5% respectively).
While over two-thirds of disclosed projects (126) were reported as being at an early to mid-stage of project development, there are dozens of projects throughout the continent that are awaiting investment, emphasizing the need for development finance institutions, national governments, and other key financial actors to provide the assistance and funding or finance needed for implementation.
With volumes of waste expected to increase sharply in the coming decades due to a growing population, staggering rates of urbanization and a rise in residents’ purchasing power, African cities are facing the monumental task of rapidly expanding their already strained waste management services and infrastructure. Amidst large variations across and within regions and countries, the current average waste collection rate in Africa is only 55%, and even lower in Sub-Saharan Africa (44%). Estimates suggest that the development and modernization of the waste sector in Africa will require between US$6 billion and US$42 billion in the near term, and between US$17 billion and US$125 billion by 2040.
African cities are therefore accelerating efforts to adapt and modernize their waste management systems, a trend clearly reflected in the latest CDP infrastructure data for Africa, which shows a large portion of projects targeting the management of municipal solid waste (nearly 30%).
In 2021 and 2022, 31 local governments reported a total of 50 waste management projects collectively valued at US$935 million and needing more than US$356 million in investment. Almost half of these projects were reported by cities located in Eastern Africa. A large majority of these projects (66%) are at an early stage of development seeking funding through both public grants and private investments.
Cities reported projects across all aspects of the waste management cycle, but with a large focus on phasing out open dump sites, constructing sanitary landfills and diverting waste from landfills to more sustainable waste recovery and treatment processes.
For instance, the city of Tshwane, one of the three capital cities in South Africa, is currently seeking US$34.1 million in financing for the construction of four waste management facilities in the buffer zones of existing landfill sites to better process the recycling of packaging waste, building rubble and organic waste. Similarly, Uganda’s capital city, Kampala, is currently looking to develop a public private partnership (PPP) for the closure of an existing dump site and the design, construction, and operation of an effective landfill.
Explore the interactive map below to view waste management projects across Africa reported via CDP-ICLEI Track in 2021 and 2022.
Climate change will amplify existing stresses on water availability and quality, further exacerbating existing risks on livelihoods, health, economies, and sustainable water ecosystems. In parts of the continent, climatic variations are already triggering more common and severe water-related weather events, such as droughts, landslides and flooding, resulting in serious damage to socio-economic development, life, and infrastructure.
Despite a steady decline in recent decades, more than half of the urban population in Sub-Saharan Africa still lives in informal settlements with little to no access to running water. Rapid and uncontrolled urban growth also increases flood risks (whether flash pluvial, coastal, or fluvial), which over the past three decades have been the most frequent and widespread water-related disasters in Africa.
Given this context, it is not surprising that 37 of the 53 African cities (70%) that reported projects in their 2021 and/or 2022 disclosures identified water-related stresses and extreme weather events as the most significant climate hazards facing their jurisdiction.
Lack of funding in water infrastructure remains a key barrier to addressing the challenges with water quality, availability and accessibility in Africa. According to the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA), the current annual total investments of US$8-12 billion in the sector represents between 34% to 60% of the US$22 billion needed.
For 2021 and 2022, 21 African cities reported a total of 28 water management projects with a collective cost of nearly US$1 billion and in need of approximately US$544 million in investments. The Eastern and Southern sub-regions of Africa accounted for the largest share of reported water management projects.
Covering all stages of project development, these actions mainly aim to address water security risks. Reported projects include the expansion of water supply networks, the construction of stormwater retention facilities, the distribution of rainwater harvesting equipment, and the building or further development of wastewater treatment facilities.
For instance, to accommodate an expected rise in water demand, Bulawayo city council in southwest Zimbabwe is aiming to undertake a study to assess the feasibility of constructing a new US$2.5 million water treatment plant. Kisumu, the third largest city in Kenya, is seeking additional funding of up to US$64.3 million to upgrade and modernize the county’s water distribution pipeline network.
In addition to water supply and treatment projects, some cities are also seeking investment to address flood risks and the rehabilitation of water-related ecosystems. Senegal’s capital, Dakar, is seeking technical assistance to assess the financing needed to rehabilitate the stormwater retention basin in the zone of Captage, in the commune of Grand Yof. Once implemented, this redevelopment project should reduce the commune’s vulnerability to floods and mitigate associated health risks for nearby communities. The municipality of Cocody, in Côte d’Ivoire, is seeking nearly US$160 million in gap-financing for the assessment and development of a mangrove restoration project, with expected benefits for the environment and coastal communities’ capacity to manage water resources.
Explore the interactive map below to view water management projects across Africa reported via CDP-ICLEI Track in 2021 and 2022.
To accommodate a rapidly growing population, African cities are faced with the difficult task of equitable economic growth and low-carbon development. Nowhere is this challenge more prescient than in the development of the transport sector which, if not properly managed, could result in a rapid increase in GHG emissions for the continent.
Building cleaner and smarter urban mobility systems represents a huge sustainable development opportunity for African cities, with cascading effects on the economy, poverty reduction, health and the environment. Due to decades of very low investment in the sector however, Africa’s transport infrastructure needs huge investment and capacity building support if it is to effectively transition away from fossil-fuel based technologies. According to SLOCAT (2021), closing the investment gap in transport infrastructure in Africa, will require an additional US$800 billion by 2040. A recent CPI study (2022) corroborates this report, suggesting that Africa’s greatest needs for mitigation finance for the period 2020-2030 are in the transport sector (41%, US$657 billion), with South Africa currently accounting for 94% of these transport-related finance needs.
Taken together, African cities’ project disclosures through CDP-ICLEI Track illustrate the challenge of improving urban accessibility while decarbonizing transportation. In 2021–2022, 16 African cities from the sub-Saharan region reported 27 transport-related projects collectively valued at nearly US$4.45 billion and in need of US$1.5 billion in investment. At early stages of development for the most part (60% of reported projects), these projects aim to improve urban mobility and accessibility, as well as rural connectivity.
Faced with a rising population and higher levels of road congestion and pollution, the Ghanaian capital of Accra is seeking additional funding as part of a vast US$102 million transport management project that aims to increase urban mobility and reduce transport-related GHG emissions. Finance is especially needed for the further development of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.
With limited road capacity for the development of dedicated bus lanes or railway infrastructure, the capital city of Sierra Leone, Freetown, needs funding to conduct a feasibility study and cost evaluation of a cable car system as a potentially better-suited mode of mass transportation for the city. The cable car system would also contribute to reductions in transport related GHG emissions.
Explore the interactive map below to view transport-related projects across Africa reported via CDP-ICLEI Track in 2021 and 2022.
Cities across Africa recognize the opportunities for a cleaner and more efficient energy transition. As of 2022, for instance, 29 African cities have made net-zero-commitments for 2050. As suggested in the IEA’s Special Report on Africa Energy Outlook (2022), a combination of declining renewable energy costs, shifting global investments and global commitments towards carbon mitigation hold great promise for a continent with abundant renewable energy sources.
Yet, with over half of the sub-Saharan African population currently without access to electricity, achieving the sustainable development goal of universal access to clean and affordable energy by 2030 is no small feat. This will require not only tripling the annual electrification rate of recent years but also transitioning roughly 130 million people a year away from dirty cooking fuels. Additionally, a strong focus on energy efficiency measures, especially in providing efficient cooling solutions for buildings and households, will be critical to temper a projected annual rise in energy demand of 6% through to 2040. According to IEA’s Special Report, meeting Africa’s energy and climate goals will require more than doubling current levels of energy investments to up to US$190 billion a year from 2026 to 2030.
Despite the scope of these challenges, CDP data shows that African cities are preparing their energy transition and seeking technical support and financing to conduct feasibility and pre-feasibility assessments of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
In 2021 and 2022, 19 African local governments disclosed 25 projects in the renewable energy sector, representing roughly 14% of total reported projects. These projects were collectively valued at around US$840 million needing approximately US$378 million in investment. They cover both the demand and supply sides and include actions such as the production and distribution of renewable and clean energy options, the installation of solar-powered streetlights, raising public awareness about the use of cleaner energy sources, and the reduction of wood fuel use.
For instance, the South African capital city of Tshwane is currently seeking full funding for the development of a US$13.6 million 20MW solar harvesting farm (Rooiwal Solar Harvesting Farm) that will supply clean energy to the municipality’s intensive energy industries.
In line with the country’s nationally determined contribution (NDC) emission reduction target and the ‘Strengthening Business Society Engagement in Climate change Mitigation’s Project’, the Kenyan city of Nakuru is seeking public and private sector financing for the development of a clean energy policy and action plan for the county.
In 2021 and 2022, 18 African cities disclosed a total of 19 energy-efficiency projects and 10 energy -efficient building projects. These projects were collectively valued at around US$149 million and need approximately US$124 million in investment. About 40% of projects (11) were reported by 5 South African cities.
Covering all stages of project development, these projects comprise activities ranging from the provision or expansion of energy-efficient public lighting systems, and energy retrofits of local government buildings, to the energy efficient cooling of buildings and public awareness-raising initiatives.
Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, for instance, is seeking assistance for the further development of a renewable energy and energy efficiency project aiming to improve informal settlements’ access to safe and sustainable energy and to install public lights and solar energy facilities in major strategic public areas.
Explore the interactive map below to view renewable energy, buildings and energy efficiency projects across Africa reported via CDP-ICLEI Track in 2021 and 2022.
Africa’s urban transformation represents a unique opportunity to direct investment towards low-carbon and resilient technologies, while generating jobs and supporting development. Besides the climate, environmental and health benefits, investing in sustainable cities across Africa will yield considerable economic returns over the coming decades.
To meet Africa’s investment needs, however, this report further confirms the central importance of early project preparation support in moving project ideas to an investment-ready stage. The greater infrastructure focus on climate change mitigation rather than adaptation underscores the need for enhanced preparation support for climate adaptation projects. For many cities, support for climate action planning is also vital to identify climate action priorities and investments needs. Many of the infrastructure projects in the pipeline are at a relatively small scale and will require collaborative approaches like demand aggregation and blended finance to lower transaction costs.
COP27 is a crucial opportunity to identify the remaining gaps and translate the large capital pledges of COP26 into clearly defined investments so that African cities can achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
To support African cities in advancing their climate projects, CDP Matchmaker provides a roadmap for where and how to best leverage early technical support and financing. Key partner initiatives include the City Climate Finance Gap Fund (the Gap Fund), the C40 Cities Finance Facility, and ICLEI ‘s Transformative Actions Program (TAP).
To learn more about project preparation support opportunities, see especially the Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance (CCFLA)’s website which features a full list of project preparation facilities and a series of financial toolkits. CDP Matchmaker Sustainable Infrastructure Resources page also provides guidance for cities on developing sustainable infrastructure projects.