Arusha, Tanzania, 2 August 2018 - Government representatives, academics, project managers, housing experts, financiers and NGOs met in Arusha recently to review progress made in promoting energy efficient building practices in Africa and have committed to championing the adoption of energy and resource efficient green building principles for sustainable urbanization.

Acting Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President in charge of Regional Administration and Local Government in Tanzania Mr. Tixon Nzunda emphasized the need for strong political will at the national, sub-national and regional levels to develop systems, rules and procedures necessary to achieve wide scale adoption of green building principles.

“I thank UN-Habitat for collaborating closely with the governments of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania in promoting the adoption of green building principles. I also congratulate UN Environment for imparting skills that have brought about significant improvements in our built environment.  Above all, I recognize and appreciate the Global Environment Facility and the five East African Countries which have co-funded this magnificent project,” said Mr. Nzunda. County Executive for Lands, Physical Planning and Urban Development for Marsabit County in Kenya Mrs. Kulamo Ikimire said solar, wind and geothermal energy are among abundant sources of renewable energy available within the region that should be harnessed are.

“Many African countries have given priority to grid-based electricity supply systems which are neither accessible nor affordable for most people. It is estimated that up to 90 percent of the population in Tanzania rely on charcoal and firewood as the main sources of energy for domestic use as they are more affordable than other sources of energy,” said the Mayor of Arusha Mr. Kalisti Bukhay, emphasizing the importance of ensuring that initiatives adopted result in tangible improvements to people’s lives. He called on governments in East Africa to allocate sufficient funding in their annual budgets to support integration of green energy sources and enact legislation to make solar heating systems mandatory in the design and construction of buildings to enhance energy efficiency. He further urged the banking and financial sector to develop appropriate financing mechanisms for green projects.

Director of the Kenya Building Research Centre Architect Oliver Okello concurred that embracing energy and resource efficiency is critical for sustainable urban development and affordable housing, one of the Big Four Agenda priorities of the Government of Kenya. Through the Kenya Urban Support Programme (KUSP) the Centre is promoting enhanced research, documentation and dissemination of sustainable building and urban planning practices.

Mr. Andre Dzikus of UN-Habitat identified the growing gap between demand and supply of affordable energy as a major issue noting that the future for Africa depends on adopting improved energy efficiency building practices. “The New Urban Agenda adopted in Quito in 2016 calls for urban decarbonisation, energy performance management in the building sector, energy rating system for building, and transition towards sustainable energy.

A member of the advisory board of the Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa (CoMSSA) Mr. Vincent Kitio of UN-Habitat highlighted some successful project initiatives, including completion of energy audits for 1,086 housing units; integration of the manual for Sustainable Buildings Designs for Tropical Climates as a learning resource by 10 Universities; and incorporation of sustainable building practices into national policy by Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Burundi. He urged governors, mayors, municipal and town managers across the region to join CoMSSA and the Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA) to strengthen advocacy for comprehensive energy and climate action plans within existing institutional development frameworks.

The Conference followed an earlier declaration in Machakos, Kenya in February 2016 in which 18 Universities and a host of Journalists committed to promote discourse on mainstreaming energy and resource efficiency in their professions including the integration of sustainable building designs in curriculum for higher learning, and dissemination of green building best practices through mass media. Then Cabinet Secretary for Lands, Housing and Urban Development in Kenya Prof. Jacob Kaimenyi lauded UN-Habitat for its effort in promoting sustainable built environments and called for close collaboration and partnerships by all actors to facilitate transfer of knowledge on green buildings within the region and beyond.