Green finance: Stakeholders seek improved SMEs funding

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Stakeholders at the 2024 Green Finance Conference have called for increased funding for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, as well as more effective strategies for addressing climate change challenges.

The conference, held in Lagos recently, had the theme ‘The Role of Africa’s Private Sector in The Paris Agreement on Climate Change’ and was organised by the African Guarantee Fund in collaboration with the Nordic Development Fund.

In a statement from the organisers on Monday, the Green Finance Conference provided a platform for all stakeholders, including government representatives, senior executives of financial institutions, and key regulatory-policy stakeholders, to dialogue and showcase the many advantages that Green SMEs could contribute to the economy of Nigeria.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, AGF Group Chief Executive Officer, Jules Ngankam, emphasised that the Green Finance Conference is a crucial response to the challenges posed by climate change within a framework of National Determined Contributions with a focus on providing enhanced expertise to Africa.

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He proposed practical solutions to addressing financing for smaller and medium-sized enterprises committed to green growth and climate-resilient development.

“Our aim is to support the banks to improve, increase or develop their green portfolios. Through the combination of our Green Guarantee and Capacity Development support, we are able to bridge the knowledge gap between both financial institutions and their customers. This is not only for the SMEs to understand how the lending process works, but also for the financial experts to learn how they can provide solutions tailored to suit the needs of the SMEs,” Ngankam said.

With NDF’s support, the AGF said that it had been able to support financial institutions through its risk-sharing mechanism, which is crucial to incentivising banks to provide climate finance to SMEs.

NDF Managing Director, Satu Santala, asserted, “We are committed to financing green and inclusive low-carbon and climate-resilient growth of African economies to improve the livelihood of communities. “Partnerships are at the core of NDF’s approach to climate finance and the African private sector plays a pivotal role in climate action and creating employment.”

The President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, Dr Kenneth Opara, in his welcome address, noted the important role the private sector plays in climate change in the Paris Agreement, emphasising that the private sector plays a pivotal role in unlocking new growth, job creation and sustainable agriculture.

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Opara declared, ‘’We hope that climate change efforts will unlock new opportunities for green growth and job creation, ranging from renewable energy and clean technology to sustainable agriculture. There are countless avenues for the private sector to get the required private solution that deliver environmental, social, and economic benefits.”

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A Special Adviser to The Lagos State Government on Climate Change and Circular Economy, Mrs Titilayo Oshodi, speaking on behalf of the Secretary to the State Government, noted the need for more awareness on the effect of climate change.

“It is a resultant factor in how we begin to deal with our environment, how we begin to play, what shots are required of us to keep our environment healthy, to keep it safe and climate-friendly. We need to start to express the inherent opportunities in terms of wealth that is available in the wealth that we generate,” she remarked.

The conference was followed by a three-day training on Green Finance for Financial Institutions with a focus on the green financing value chain, risk assessment, and regulatory requirements necessary to meet the rising demand for climate adaptation in Nigeria.


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