Delegates from across Africa and other parts of the world converged in Nairobi on Monday, September 4 for the African Climate Summit (ACS) 2023.
The ACS is a first-of-its-kind conference seeking to strengthen Africa’s efforts in the global decarbonization, a campaign that has now found new life under the championship of President William Ruto.
Ruto has on several occasions grabbed local and international headlines with his passionate speeches about the need for Africa to play an active role in climate action.
In addition, his administration has shown commitment towards positioning Nairobi as a leader in sustainability efforts.
However, standing between his dream to attain a carbon-free environment in Nairobi is an alarming rate of air pollution which is among the highest in Africa.
According to Numbeo, a Serbian database that provides statistics on a range of topics- Nairobi is the seventh most polluted city in Africa with a pollution index of 79.7.
This puts Nairobi in a group of Africa’s most polluted cities among them Nigeria’s Lagos, Cairo (Egypt), Accra (Ghana), and Marrakech (Morocco).
The indexing process, Numbeo noted, considered a raft of factors including the rates of air pollution, water pollution, and cleanliness.
Additionally, the indexing considered insights on pollution from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other relevant institutions on matters regarding the environment.
When put into perspective, the pollution index poses risks to the over 5.2 million people residing or working in the city.
At the heart of Nairobi’s pollution challenge is a raft of factors including a high population density. With a landmass of 703 kilometers squared, the over five million population exerts pressure on the city’s environment.
Like in several other cities in Africa, traffic jams define the city’s transport sector and consequently lead to the emission of volumes of carbon.
Nairobi is also Kenya’s main industrial hub as it hosts many factories, most of which still employ conventional methods of production.
Moreover, the high ratio of the city’s population as compared to the land mass available has led to a reduction of green spaces thereby affecting the quality of air.
Yet, the city of Nairobi and Kenya, as a whole, have shown resilience in the charge towards achieving climate targets with a fast-changing transport sector.
In the recent past, Nairobi has seen major players in the public transport sector adopt electric buses into their fleets.
Moreover, foreign investors in the global electric mobility industry have launched operations in the city to place it in a pole position as a leader in the EV revolution.
In his speech on Monday, Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen outlined his Ministry’s plans to complete the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system by December 2024.
The BRT, he noted, would be a major boost to Nairobi’s determination to reduce carbon emissions resulting from traffic jams.
“Government is working with investors and development partners to offer an infrastructure sector that is modeled to advantage the majority population that use public transport and non-motorized transport even as we work on modifying existing road infrastructure to encourage e-mobility,” said CS Murkomen.
The investment opportunities, coupled with interventions by the government have presented hopes of turning around the alarming situation.
This even as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns of “the era of global boiling” should the world fail to act.