Private sector must play greater role in MENA’s green transition: AmCham Conference

Doaa A.Moneim , Sunday 26 Feb 2023

Unleashing the private sector in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is crucial for its countries to push forward green transition efforts and to adopt more renewable energy, panelists at the 11th Annual AmCham MENA Regional Council Conference said on Sunday.



The one-day event kicked off under the theme “Accelerating Green Investments in the MENA Region: US and Regional Partnerships for Growth.”

The network of regional American Chambers of Commerce currently connects more than 4,000 members from across eleven different countries and works on strengthening bilateral commercial ties between the region’s countries and the US through extending opportunities for collaboration and investment.

Speakers and participants also asserted the need for the region to legislate frameworks that facilitates the private sector to expand financing for an easier green transition on the continent.

They also hailed the creation of a loss and damage fund during the UN’s 27th Climate Change Conference (COP27) that Egypt successfully hosted in November in Sharm El-Sheikh, stressing the importance of building on the outcomes during the forthcoming COP28 to be held in the UAE.

“Countries in the MENA region have taken proactive steps to advance green investments, adopt climate-change strategies and place sustainability and clean energy as their top priority, believing that sustainability investments will accelerate business growth,” AmCham Egypt President and the Chairman of the AmCham MENA Regional Council Tarek Tawfik said within his speech.

He added that with Egypt assuming the COP27 presidency through November 2023, and with the UAE building momentum to host COP28 in the coming months, the region is playing a leading role towards the net-zero transition, as many countries rapidly adopt solar and other sustainable energy solutions to diversify their energy mix.

Touching upon the global energy scene and its effects on the region, Tawfik explained that the energy crisis that started in 2021 is accelerating the energy transition, creating huge interest in hydrogen.

“With high renewables potential – wind and solar – Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia are now prioritising development of green and blue hydrogen production not just for export to Europe and Asia, but also for internal consumption,” Tawfik explained.

Moreover, Tawfik expected that green hydrogen sustainably sourced through solar is set to turn MENA into the world’s second-largest electrolyser installer by 2040.

He added that Egypt is a signatory to the Global Methane Pledge, launched in November 2021, where participating countries have agreed to take voluntary steps to contribute to a collective effort to decrease global methane emissions, at least 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030, which could eliminate over 0.2˚C warming by 2050.

AmCham Egypt, together with the US Chamber of Commerce have taken on the mission of advocating for the reduction of methane emissions among the private sector,” Tawfik highlighted.

In this respect, Tawfik noted that investing in the environment is one of the most important aspects of increasing employment opportunities and aiding economic development, adding that renewable energy jobs reached 12.7 million in 2021, which is expected to double in the next decade.

Throughout his speech, the UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for Egypt and the UN Special Envoy on Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Mahmoud Mohieldin said that Egypt showed its leadership during the COP27.

On a regional level, Mohieldin noted that finances, technologies and leadership are all imperative together to push forward the green transition in the region that is currently experiencing a very challenging time.

“While the developed countries pledged many years ago to extend $100 billion to the developing countries for climate adaptation and mitigation related efforts and to address the severe impacts of the climate change, developing countries need up to $1 trillion per annum for such efforts,” Mohieldin underpinned.

He also asserted the importance of focusing on achieving both the adaptation and mitigation efforts in terms of the climate action, adding that 80 percent of financing globally centres on mitigation while only 20 percent goes to adaptation.

“Climate finance is development finance and it is critical for the region,” Mohieldin affirmed.

Marty Durbin, senior vice president for policy and president of Global Energy Institute at US Chamber of Commerce, stated that achieving green security and green transition are imperative for a sustainable future for the MENA region.

Durbin stressed that private sector must play a leading role in the green transition process, which requires huge investments. He added that establishing partnerships with government is also critical to foster such efforts.

Within his speech, Ambassador Daniel Rubenstein, charge’s affaires at the US embassy in Egypt, highlighted Egypt’s efforts in green transition through its achievements made during the COP27 as well as the role the Nexus for Food, Water and Energy (NWFE) platform is playing in mobilising private finances for these three sectors in the region.

In this regard, Rubenstein asserted that US supports Egypt’s efforts in this area, citing the $250 million the US and Germany committed in November to support the country’s clean energy transition.

The participants also stressed that it is imperative for the region to upgrade its energy infrastructure, attract more private capital and support the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to play a role in the green transition, as well as secure needed financing in this regard.

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