As Eastern African economies continue to grow rapidly, so do the respective transport and logistics sectors, and the associated Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and pollution. As we know, increased traffic and pollution threaten safety, health and life of road transport users and citizens.
The situation is further worsened by inefficiencies which exist in the regions’ road transport and logistics sectors. Costs per km of transporting a freight container from Mombasa to Kigali still costs 3 times more than in developed countries. Some 95% of the freight transport is hauled on roads, while water (maritime, inland lakes) and rail transport, which are less polluting modes of freight transport have remained underdeveloped and underutilised.
TradeMark Africa (TMA) has worked with the Northern and Central Corridors for years in the joint Observatories programme to collect and manage freight transport related information, and in 2018 included a climate change tool to monitor Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and pollution along the corridors. Key partners involved in the development of the international standards-based tool were Climate Care and Meghraj Capital consultants.
Responsiveness to climate change challenges varies regionally and in the partner states. A lot of progress has been made in the fight against climate change at the national level with- countries being members of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and signatories of the Paris agreement having formulated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and report on them through National Communications (NCs). The report on the freight transport sector tool however reveals that there is need for countries to develop more detailed national and transport and trade sector-specific climate policies, strategies and institutional arrangements to guide the implementation on financing, capacity building, technology development, monitoring and evaluation.
TMA is committed to partnering with like-minded organizations in developing the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) system to be more accurate and responsive, in designing actions to reduce GHG emissions and to build climate resilience. The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) presents a new boost for collaboration, and one that we are keenly eyeing. Another trend is that the markets are increasingly demanding locally produced Green low-carbon products in line with the customer attitudes, preferences, and consumption in those markets. Thus, to remain competitive, there is need for Eastern Africa to reduce the carbon footprint of its products and diversify more into Green and environmental goods and services.
The COVID-19 pandemic initially resulted in a significant though temporary reduction of carbon emission, due to the global economic and trade slowdown, but now the GHG emissions have resumed back to the Pre-COVID-19 level. However, it is now a unique opportunity to build more inclusive, sustainable, and resilient economies that follow low carbon/ carbon neutral pathways, where communities and businesses most at risk from the crisis are supported and catered for.
To fight climate change and support the Eastern African countries and the region TMA has planned a 10-year action programme for strengthening green growth, climate resilience and reduction of GHG emissions in the freight transport, logistics and export sectors along key corridors in Eastern Africa for sustainable trade. TMA will implement this programme through a mix of grant and blended finance from development finance and the private sector.
The GHG Inventory (carbon footprint), tool and baseline report that has been developed will facilitate establishment of a monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) methodology at the project, Corridor, and national level. The work will strengthen Corridors and countries to set climate targets, monitor their attainment and identify new climate mitigation projects for meeting the targets.
Authors: Denis Maina and Mikko Leppanen Climate Change and Environment, TMA.