Abundance of solar, wind and thermal energy across the continent can place Africa at the core of the global decarbonisation of maritime transport, according to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) conference on Low-Carbon Shipping in Africa.

"2023 is a critical year for maritime decarbonisation with member states at the 80th session of IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) in London during the first week of July set to adopt IMO's 2023 GHG Strategy," said Xiaojie Zhang, Director, Technical Cooperation Division, IMO.

Zhang called on African nations "to make your voice heard, and to unlock the great potential the phase out of greenhouse gas emissions of international shipping can generate in Africa. When IMO adopts this July a revised GHG Strategy with a clear phase‑out date of greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping, the global shipping industry will actively look at providers of alternative shipping fuels and African ports could become future energy hubs for low carbon shipping fuels."

The conference was held in Mombasa, Kenya and co-organised with the Kenya Maritime Authority, says a release from IMO.

Zhang emphasised the importance of carbon revenues that could be generated through an IMO economic measure - like a fuel levy - for financing port infrastructure, retrofitting capacity, or bunkering facilities across Africa.

The theme was echoed by Nancy Karigithu, Special Envoy on Blue Economy, Kenya, who highlighted the range of financing mechanisms such as public-private partnerships, climate funds and green bonds to support the transition to low-carbon shipping. "The transition needs to be inclusive and equitable," she said.

Delegates voiced the need for IMO to give clear direction through its revised climate strategy. "Setting an ambitious GHG reduction target at MEPC 80 will send a strong signal to the market and investors that maritime is ready to decarbonize - and this will bring new investments and new jobs to Africa," said Roel Hoenders, Head, Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency, IMO.

Ghana had hosted the first African Green Shipping Conference in February, the release added.

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