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The clean development mechanism

A tool for financing low carbon devlopment in Africa?

A contribution in International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, Vol. 6, No. 2.

October 2014 - Since the registration of the first clean development mechanism (CDM) project in 2004, the CDM has seen a dynamic expansion: the CDM pipeline currently comprises 6,725 projects generating 2.73 billion certified emission reductions (CERs) up to 2012. These CERs result in a substantial financial flow from Annex I to Non-Annex I countries. But CDM projects also result in investments in low carbon technologies, a substantial share of which is focused on the energy sector. The total installed capacity of all CDM projects amounts to 288,944 MW.

However, the CDM is not widely taken up in Africa. This holds true for Africa’s share in the CDM project pipeline (2.62 per cent), for Africa’s share in CERs generated up to 2012 (3.58 per cent) and for the normalized CERs per capita, per country. Two hypothesizes are commonly discussed: first, the continent features low per capita emissions and low abatement potentials. Second, African countries may be hampered by weak institutional frameworks.

This article reviews both hypotheses and presents new empirical data. Investigating the greenhouse gas (GHS) abatement potential of 16 energy-related sectors for 11 selected least developed countries in sub-Saharan Africa shows a total theoretical CDM potential of 128.6 million CERs per year. Analyzing investment indicators confirms that most countries are impeded by below average investment conditions.

Supporting CDM development in Africa should not be constraint to technical assistance. The authors deduce that it will be crucial to develop an integrated financing approach, comprising the CDM as a co-financing mechanism, to overcome the institutional challenges.