Governing Inclusive Green Growth in Africa

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Geography and Environmental Sciences


The green economy has significant potential for delivering inclusive economic development in Africa; however the dynamics of this potentially paradigm-shifting phenomenon are poorly understood (Borel-Saladin & Turok 2013, Mudombi 2013, Death 2014, ECA 2016). Comprising researchers from multiple disciplines, (from UK, Africa, and India), African think tanks, civil society organisations and government departments, the proposed Network aims to lay the foundation for a robust assessment and understanding of the dynamics of green growth governance in Africa and the implications for sustainable economic transformation in the continent. Particular attention will be paid to understanding key challenges for leveraging green growth as a means to tackle inequality and poverty plus interventions that can be honed to transcend existing barriers to deliver results at scale and enhance sustainability.

Prompted by national circumstances and their international development partners, many African countries have started to embrace the concept of green growth. Countries such as Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa have sketched ambitious plans to decouple economic growth from environmental pressures and 'leapfrog' to green, sustainable economies. For example, Ethiopia's ambitious, multi-sectoral Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) to bring the country to a middle-income status within 10 years, runs alongside the Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) strategy. The CRGE's principal aim is to achieve a high rate of economic growth without increasing the country's GHG emissions. However, till date, very little study has examined green growth in Africa with the result that significant questions need to be asked. For example: (i) what are the current greening activities taking place in Africa? (ii) in what ways do putative green economy activities represent a significant departure from 'business as usual'?; (iii) are green growth activities displacing, being mainstreamed or co-existing with 'brown' development?; (iv) what is the impact of national green growth strategies on inequality and poverty in Africa?; (v) what are the key motivations of African leaders and governments seeking to be front-runners in this area; and what are the reasons for reluctance among the slow or non-movers?; (vi) what are the environmental, technology, innovation, and ethical implications of greening? (vii) what is the local and international political economy of greening in Africa and who are the key actors?; (viii) what are the capacity needs required to achieve scale?; (vii) what are the successes, challenges, synergies and trade-offs associated with greening in Africa, how do these differ across countries, and what lessons can Africa learn from other developing countries?

Through a series of collaborative activities including: (i) workshops, (ii) mapping of existing green growth initiatives in Africa, (iii) initial political economy and socio-technical analysis; and (iv) an initial technology and capacity gap assessment, the network will lay a foundation for future research work in understanding the dynamics, prospects and limits of the green economy in Africa. Capacity will be built through collaborative planning, mentoring, and peer networks. Partnership with a leading research and policy think tank in India will promote South-South cooperation. Although our work will address issues on a continent-wide basis, our primary focus will be the following three countries: (i) Ethiopia, which is pursuing an ambitious growth agenda and greening strategy, simultaneously; (ii) Kenya, which has also made notable attempts to embrace the concept of greening development and is currently the first and only African country that has signed a national legislation on climate change; and (iii) Nigeria, the most populous and biggest economy in Africa, which has made some efforts at greening but is generally considered a laggard in this area (Okonkwo & Uwazie 2016).

Planned Impact

The positive impact of GIGGA will come in many forms including better understanding of: (i) current activities and patterns of greening in Africa and the implications for poverty reduction and sustainable development; (ii) the motivation of key actors, (iii) enabling and constraining political economy factors; key institutions and governance approaches; (iv) existing challenges, capacity needs/gaps; barriers and opportunities; (v) potential lessons that can be learned from other developing countries, especially India; and (iii) identification of potential solutions and cutting-edge research agenda in the area.

We have identified at least eight sets of beneficiaries of our research: (1) Central governments in Africa especially Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Kenya which form the primary case studies for this initial phase of the research (2) Local and sub-national governments (3) International Development Partners active in the area of sustainability, poverty alleviation and green economy including The World Bank, IMF, CDKN, Green Growth Institute (GGI), and African Development Bank (AfDB), which has the Green Economy as one of its 10-year strategic foci; (4) local government associations and cities networks working to promote resilient and low carbon cities such as ICLEI, (5) Civil Society organisations (CSO) in Africa such as Women's and Men's Traders associations, (6) Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) such as Oxfam, (7) National and International Research Institutes most of which are in need of more robust data and evidence to enhance the quality of their work (8) Private Sector of different shapes and sizes; big, medium and small-scale industries whose works have implications for the green economy.

Our network includes many beneficiaries as key partners including national government agencies (e.g. Nigerian National Planning Commission); and city governments (e.g. Addis Ababa City Council). Hence, the key first impact pathway is through co-design and co-production of knowledge with end users. Second, we will promote ownership by adopting a co-communication approach our network activities and output using the websites of member and partner organisations. Third our network comprises dynamic activist civil society groups (e.g. Pan African Climate Justice Alliance) who are renowned for influencing change through evidence-based advocacy. Fourth, the commitment to build the capacity of partners will strengthen relationships and enable ongoing communication and impact. Collaborative activities include joint planning, writing and mentoring. All the partners will be involved and given ample opportunity to help shape the work of the Network. Needs analysis will form a key aspect of the initial workshop. Fifth, we will carefully target potential end-users and widely disseminate outputs using online platforms. Special attention will be paid to involving the local media, to seek active ways of promoting the work and uptake of project. Feedback will be encouraged in all communications issued by the project team whether they be oral, digital or in printed form. Sixth, we will invite relevant officials from some of the target beneficiary organisations (CDKN, World Bank, AfDB) to serve on our advisory board and attend our workshops to facilitate engagement and uptake.

The stakeholders mentioned above will gain information from the mapping of existing green growth initiatives in Africa. The date-base will include information on focus, stated objectives funding agency and arrangement, key stakeholders, successes, challenges, lessons learned and options for scale up. The capacity gap assessment and political economy review will cover among others, technology, human resources, and institutions. Reports and policy briefs will help to identify what is working well, redundancies, overlaps, and offer guidance for coordination, better linkages and capacity building - all of which should be valuable to the above-named beneficiaries.


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Description GCRF Extension Fund
Amount £15,000 (GBP)
Funding ID Code E3584205 
Organisation University of Reading 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 07/2018
Description Interview for national news 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I gave four prime-time TV interviews on two leading national TV channels in Nigeria describing the project including the aims, objectives, plan of work, intended output and potential impact. These interviews have sparked widespread interest from policy makers and the general public. The one is National Television Authority (NTA) and the other is the Channels TV. These interviews were mostly pitched at politicians and policy makers. However, the general public (over 50 million) would have watched the interviews. I have been told that one of the interviews was cited by a Senator in the National House of Parliament although I have not seen a proof. However, I have received personal commendation and compliments from the Deputy Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The youtube link to the interviews show that hundreds have watched the clips with quite a number of likes. Several people have approached me to enquire more about the green economy and how Nigeria can best take advantage of the opportunities it presents.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018