'Stop Playing Climate Victim!': Former Nigerian Minister to African leaders

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The Nation newspaper, Paris

Nigeria’s former Minister for Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Monday in Paris told African leaders: Stop playing the climate victims.

Okonjo-Iweala is a two- term Minister for finance in Nigeria and is currently a member of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.

“Africa should stop playing the victim game," he told African leaders at a session on Climate Finance in Africa during the climate talks. "We are not supposed to be going to the West to beg as victims, we should be telling them that the solution is in Africa. Our infrastructures are just developing, we have the opportunity to build in a climate friendly way and avoid the mistakes of the developed nations, she said.

She said the lack of infrastructure in Africa could actually be an advantage in that it provides a large window of opportunity to build structures that are climate resilient and contribute to sustainable development.

“ The solution is in Africa, this victim mentality must stop,” she said. “We have the solution in Africa, to begin to build our infrastructures now in a new way. Almost three quarters of the infrastructure that we need in Africa is still not there, the power that we need, the roads and the railways. Now we have the opportunity to build in a climate friendly way that lowers emission and puts us on a low carbon growth”

She also advocated a climate friendly solution to Nigeria’s power problems saying off -the- grid renewable energy is the way to go. “We have to get the private sector; we are looking at power generation. Our companies that are investing should look at off- grid solutions; let our companies get off -grid solar solutions for our people before other people come into it. Instead of flaring, we can use the gas; we can convert this gas for our use.”

She also advocated for a redirecting of the fossil fuel subsidy into renewable energy even as 621 million Africans still lacked access to electricity. “Africa should not wait for the West for financing; we should be the leader in it." She cited as an example the Africa Risk Capacity, which provides 26 member countries of the African Union. "We brought our money to the table and now partners are joining us," she said. "Africa must find a smart solution."