Local climate and energy action to fight inequalities in Sub-Saharan Africa

Tackling territorial inequalities through local climate action and innovative finance

Urban areas are vulnerable to climate change impacts. Urban communities are key to achieve global climate targets. Cities have made ambitious commitments and inspired a ground-up movement. The Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa, an EU initiative, supports local authorities in their fight against climate change and in efforts to ensure access to clean energy. The UN Capital Development Fund's Local Climate Adaptive Living facility promotes climate-resilient communities and local economies by investments in adaptation at the local level in least developed countries. Cities will be showcased that have accessed these initiatives and developed concrete actions. Speakers will share best practices and discuss the challenges local authorities and cities face in financing climate change resilience.


Key points

  • Tackling climate change by renewable energy installations locally requires a participatory

  • The active participation by all sectors of society contributes to solving the energy challenges.

  • Support can be channelled through existing local community groups for improved

  • Inequality is addressed through localising small-scale sustainable energy solutions.


Many African cities have problems with uncontrolled urbanisation that presents ecological challenges, including Dakar, the capital of Senegal. The city has experience of mobilising local stakeholders to engage the public in action on reforestation and in cleaning up the city and its surroundings. There is an emphasis on involving students in training to raise awareness of the energy challenges and to come up with ideas for a local approach. The approach allows for every level of society to be involved. It includes adapting public infrastructure to minimise the need for electricity by constructing public buildings that optimise daylight and solar power for lighting, electricity and cooling. In Uganda, the local approach builds on an ambitious renewable energy objective set for 2020, when all outlets should have established access to renewable energy sources. However, more work remains on improving the reliability of those sources. Both private sector actors and government bodies are involved. There is also a focus on enabling a switch from the burning of biomass to alternative sources and on integrating the infrastructure across sectors to allow for continuity. The aim is to introduce and integrate the renewable infrastructure with the existing public energy infrastructure. To provide a further incentive, any investments in renewables are free of tax. To address inequality, the experience in many sub-Saharan African countries is that all civil society groups should be involved from the beginning in the planning on renewable energy sources. Local community groups should talk to the private sector to allow for genuinely local energy solutions. Even so, the challenges are similar across the world whereby the local approaches overlap with the global planning on tackling the need for sustainable energy to halt climate change. Equal access to electricity is crucial and here the role of the local authorities is enhanced as the need for funding and implementation require strong local institutions. Support to develop local authorities is important not only for sustaining change but also regarding local energy solutions. To achieve tangible benefits at the local level, channelling funds remains a challenge. Currently, global estimates show that as little as 10% of the overall climate funding benefits the local community. An intermediary is required to channel funds from, for instance, ministerial level to viable renewable energy projects. For local-scale energy solutions to develop, local authorities must have the capacity to apply innovative solutions and elaborate on investment proposals. It is crucial to have both good proposals for renewable energy solutions as well as easier and quicker access to finance for local authorities. As projects are strictly local in terms of decision-making, donors, as well as national governments, should be prepared to work with grassroots organisations and maintain a practical approach to community development, providing the necessary training.


Small-scale, off-grid energy solutions have proven successful in Tanzania and there is hope that the private sector will pick up on that line of investment. The European Union also funds off-grid initiatives in many countries as those have proven to be feasible and sustainable. Grassroots organisations are important in developing local energy generation but there is often an issue with access to finance. Unless that is solved, there will not be equality in terms of access to sustainable energy.

Organised by


Etienne Coyette
European Commission DG DEVCO
Andrew Marcelin Komba
Director of Sector Coordination
President's Office Regional Administration and Local Government Offices (PO-RALG), Tanzania
Carin Jämtin
Director - General
Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
Ndeye Rokhaya Sarr
Ville de Dakar
Antony Philip Emenyu
Kasese Municipal Council