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“AfGIIB provides visibility on de-risked projects before mobilising other capital”

Exclusive interview with Hubert Ruzibiza, senior advisor, climate finance and technical assistance at the African Green Infrastructure Investment Bank (AfGIIB), an African Union-convened institution and investor-led global investment initiative to catalyse private capital for Africa’s green transition. Hubert is also a member of the advisory board of the upcoming Africa’s Green Economy Summit.

Let’s start with some background on you. You have extensive experience as a climate finance advisor.

Good morning, my name is Hubert Ruzibiza, I’m senior climate finance and technical advisor for the African Green Infrastructure Investment Bank (AfGIIB). I’ve spent the past 15 years between the public and private sectors, particularly in capital mobilisations and development of programmes supporting the financial sector developments in Africa, as well as its promotion. And as a climate finance adviser, I have developed several value propositions around blending investments, structuring and NDC (nationally determined contribution) resource mobilisation plans.

Please tell us more about the African Green Infrastructure Investment Bank (AfGIIB) and your function there.

The African Green Infrastructure Investment Bank or AfGIIB is an independent catalytic and commercially run platform at the African level meant to support green investments in infrastructure and catalysing private capital to accelerate the green economy transitions for the continent.

What are the main challenge in your view in getting green projects off the ground?

The main challenges for us in the industry are really making sure that we have capital that allows de-risking that can bring projects to bankability. So, ultimately, most of the challenges that we see in getting projects off the ground are related to all the major risks related either to the destination, or it could be political risk, or it could be the administration level. And everything we do through our role is to make sure that the investment framework has been catered for. So, we’ve done some extensive work with countries to make sure that once projects reach our platform, they’ve been vetted, proofed and reviewed so that they can be shovel-ready or investable-ready. So, we put that kind of initial capital towards de-risking projects from the perspective of the investment destination, but also towards all kinds of related risks that are present all over the continent. These are the main challenges that we see on the continent, but that’s also the role of African Green Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is really to provide visibility to projects that are being de-risked before also mobilising other capital that would not be forthcoming if we were not there.

How will carbon finance change project investment in your view?

We are definitely a platform that is mobilising resources for all green investments across the continent. Most of the projects are eligible for carbon credits, because they’ve been proven CO2 reduced: we’ve been seeing that the emissions are reduced immediately or to a future value or to a future level. Therefore, we see carbon finance as an opportunity to mobilise more resources and develop more projects that are climate-proof and supporting also the implementations of the NDC, the national determined contribution. Carbon finance ultimately allows the projects to come closer to workability, also by reducing the cost of finance.

How important is the concept of circular economy for the green sector, and how can it be achieved?

Circular economy is very important in the sense that it allows, I would, say continuity, nothing is lost, but actually is reused, which ensures that there’s a full cycle of material equipment. In the development of smart cities, sustainable energy is used in which waste management contributes to the ecosystem and the livelihoods at the city level. So, ultimately, we aim to have a circular economy because that supports the development of our livelihoods in general, instead of increasing our spending into non-circular, which ultimately will create wastages, we believe that circular economy is the proper way of investing. And AfGIIB makes a point to have the right investment projects that are speaking to the NDC, but ultimately, also adopt circular economy principles.

What are your views on the role of green hydrogen in the green economy?

We live in an era where industries are capital intensive. By moving towards investing in African NDCs, obviously, we are moving away from fossil fuels. And the reality is that for industries and for our transport systems, we need to rely on sustainable energy, in masses, in quantity, and if it’s for electric vehicles, emobility, we have a way to do it. However, hydrogen will present a lot of opportunities in terms of supporting the access to clean energy for industries for our transportation systems, while reducing our energy-related costs but also increase our capacity to deliver. So, in a nutshell, what we see with the green economy transition for Africa, it’s more of a way to leapfrog in our developmental journey as a continent, while embracing sustainability principles.

You are a member of the advisory board for the next Africa’s Green Economy Summit in Cape Town in February 2024. How important is such an event for the continent in your view, and what will be your message at the event?

For me, Africa’s Green Economy Summit is de facto the most important platform where global capital will meet green projects. We’ve been doing this work with the African Green Infrastructure Investment Bank, but here we have a platform and event which will bring other capital providers from around the globe. With the support of these countries, we will be able to showcase Africa’s best that is on offer in terms of opportunities, and more so because this summit is actually dedicated to the green investment sectors. So, it’s not just a summit for investments with scattered non-homogeneous projects, but a platform that will cater for green investments for the short, middle and long term. So, to me, Africa’s Green Economy Summit is the event that is not to be missed on the continent.

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