By Duncan Mboyah

A United Nations (UN) official said that informal cross border traders have the potential of creating new green jobs in Africa through carbon capture.

Mr. Achim Steiner, administrator at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said that the UNDP funded Africa Borderland Centre (ABC) has proved that locally driven, scalable, and cost-effective innovative solutions for trading communities enhances environmental protection.

“Borderland communities have coordinated and collaborated to build resilience and transform lives.” Mr. Steiner said in Nairobi during a side event at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA5) in Nairobi.

He added that the projects that were initiated by the UN agency in 2021 have led to environmental conservation and made communities resilient from Covid-19 pandemic in the Sahel, Horn of Africa and Great Lakes border clusters.

The official noted that the borderland community members are passionate about development and deserves sustained support adding that the new centre has led to the improvement of their livelihoods.

He observed that unlike other initiatives, the resilience building provided by the ABC recognises that border regions are distinct economic and political zones in their own right.

Borderland’s contribution

Mr. Steiner said that in most cases, the borderlands contribute significantly to the continent’s productivity through their engagements in the service sector, agriculture, pastoralism and informal cross border trade.

Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa, Africa regional director at the UNDP said that the Centre’s unique selling point has been the ability to connect local borderlands knowledge with the specialized global expertise of UNDP.

Ms. Eziakonwa added that the selling points ranged from helping informal cross-border traders trade online, tapping into the incredible potential of small and micro industries in creating opportunities for inclusive growth, and connecting them with new finance opportunities.

She noted that the integrated programming by the UN agency entities and co-creation of solutions with local borderland communities has led to improved access to finance by cross border traders, mitigation of COVID-19 risks to small businesses, and provision of durable solutions to persons displaced by the impact of conflict and climate change.

The ABC was launched in 2021 by the UNDP to uncover the reality of the people of the borderlands in a dignified manner to influence new ways of implementing development practice in the margins.

The Centre directly engages with borderland communities in 19 African countries, and has actively embraced the private sector, in the promotion of its innovative works.