This week saw the first Africa Voluntary Carbon Credits Market Forum in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Organised by Africa Voluntary Carbon Credits Market and Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Environment, the Forum’s theme is “Accelerating Africa into the Climate Economy”.

Bloomberg Green reports that African governments at the Forum asked for a greater share of the profits from carbon trading.

In May 2023, Zimbabwe announced a new carbon trading framework under which 50% of any money from the sales of carbon credits in the country would go to the government. Foreign investors can earn up to 30% and local investors must get at least 20%.

During the Forum, Collins Nzovu, Zambia’s minister of the green economy and environment, told Bloomberg that Zambia also plans to regulate the sale of carbon credits. 

Nzovu said,

“The biggest issue in this market is revenue sharing. If we got 50% we would be very happy, those are the figures we are looking at as well.”

Zambia is planning to introduce a climate change bill that will be discussed in parliament in the fourth quarter of 2023. The bill will aim to increase regulation of the trade in carbon credits in Zambia, Nzovu told Bloomberg

Kenya is also putting in place regulation of the trade in carbon credits and last month Malawi announced that it had set up an agency to monitor the trade and marketing of carbon credits.

Bloomberg reports that,

When Zimbabwe enacted its rules it said that many programs had been concluded with local municipalities or traditional rulers, known as chiefs, and very little revenue had come back to the communities where the programs were sited. Nzovu said the industry has followed a similar pattern in Zambia.

Earlier this year, an investigation by Follow the Money revealed that carbon consulting firm South Pole had massively inflated the number of carbon offsets generated by the Kariba REDD+ Project in Zimbabwe. South Pole made €18 million by buying carbon offsets cheaply from the Kariba project and selling them years later when the price had increased significantly.

None of this money went to the project or to local communities in the project area. 

South Pole has paid a total of €57 million to Carbon Green Investments, the company running the Kariba project. Carbon Green Investments was incorporated in the tax haven of Guernsey in December 2010. Follow the Money reported that South Pole has no way of knowing exactly how Carbon Green Investments has used the money or how much actually reached local communities.

The Africa Voluntary Carbon Credits Market Forum

The Chronicle, a Zimbabwean newspaper, reports that objectives of the Forum are,

to create a Pan African-focused Register of Carbon Credits to be traded on the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFEX), promote a voluntary carbon market in Victoria Falls International Financial Services Centre, to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, experiences, and opportunities related to carbon credits among different stakeholders within the Victoria Falls International Financial Service Centre, which was declared a Special Economic Zone by the Government of Zimbabwe.

The co-chairs of the Africa Voluntary Carbon Credits Market are Kwanele Hlabangana of Zimbabwe and Kathleen Delaney of the USA.

Delaney is also President and CEO of a company called Caelum Resources, which was incorporated in the tax haven of Delaware in November 2021. According to its website, Caelum Resource goal involves “Accelerating Africa’s Participation in the Carbon Economy”. Which is remarkably close to the theme of the Africa Voluntary Carbon Credits Market Forum.

One of the people speaking at the Forum was Jaye Connolly-Labelle, who is Chairman and CEO of a company called Ripplenami Inc., a data collecting technology company, which was incorporated in the tax haven of Delaware in March 2016. Connolly-Labelle is also the Board Chair of Caelum Resources.

Among the companies sponsoring the Forum is Invictus Energy Limited, an Australian oil and gas company which is using offsets from the Ngamo-Gwayi-Sikumi REDD project to greenwash its Cabora Bassa Basin oil and gas project in northern Zimbabwe.

Other sponsors of the Forum include Conservation International, CQuestCapital, EcoSecurities, Verra, Volkswagen, and the Belarus African Foreign Trade Association.

The Belarus African Foreign Trade Association

Jacob Zuma, the controversial former president of South Africa, was also at the Forum. Zuma was representing Belarus and delivered a “special presentation” on behalf of the Belarus African Foreign Trade Association. 

The Belarus African Foreign Trade Association, according to AVCCM’s Hlabangana, “is a platform for companies and businesses in the eastern part of Europe which want to partner Africa”. 

But a Google search for the Belarus African Foreign Trade Association revealsonly stories about Zuma’s attendance at the Forum in Zimbabwe. The Trade Association does not appear to have a website.

In his speech, Zuma did not explain why he was representing Belarus. 

Hlabangana told Bloomberg that Zuma was taking part in the Forum “in his capacity as a climate ambassador”. That’s a bit of a stretch. In 2016, when Zuma was president, South Africa stopped a successful wind and solar power investment programme. 

Zuma ended his presentation as follows:

I stand before you all today as the Patron of the JG. Zuma Foundation; as well as the Board Member of BAFTA to pledge my support to the African Voluntary Carbon Credits Market Forum initiative.

As such, in an effort to support the African Voluntary Carbon Credits Market Forum as an international and global mechanism. We, through the BAFTA umbrella, have allocated two million carbon offsets to be placed on the AVCCM Forum for sale.

In fact, I have the Memorandum of Intent of the commitment of these carbon offsets, which have been certified and validated and I intend to sign with the AVCCM at this forum.

This is our pledge to kick start the process. AVCCMF needs the support of us all as it is not merely a Zimbabwean or African effort but is one that ought to be supported by other progressive nations of the world.

May AVCCM grow from strength to strength.

Let me take this time to invite you all to the African Nations Delegation Summit, that will take place from the 14th to 31st August 2024 in Belarus. Formal invitations to the participants will be sent in due course.

This is our opportunity to dictate the African approach to what we believe will take us out of living on donations and aid. Your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, please join me at that summit so that we can open doors to those who want to come as equal partners with us. Brothers and sisters, I wish you all of the best as we embark on this historic, ground breaking journey as a continent of Africa. 

Finally, brothers and sisters, as a demonstration that Africa is on the move, my I hand over this cheque for two million carbon offsets to the organisers of this important conference as our pledge to the AVCCM visionary leaders who have shown that indeed we are on the road. I thank you.

Zuma made no mention of where the two million carbon credits came from or which organisation certified and validated the credits.

By Chris Lang

Originally published here.