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Why Africa Needs To Worry About Climate Change And Sustainability Now


The geographical position of Africa makes it extremely vulnerable to climate change, as a marginal worsening would significantly decrease the farmable land, dry up drinkable water reservoirs and force the population into even more dense living conditions.

Taking a cursory reading on the African economic, social, and political history, analysts could easily conclude that the continent is doomed.

The continent has been plagued with horrible experiences such as racism, colonialism, abuse of power, corruption, natural disasters, slavery, political instability, poverty, diseases, and negative impacts of globalization.

Climate change threatens to intensify the levels of poverty and diseases in Africa, which can thwart Africa’s development efforts.

Currently Africa has an excessive dependence on unsustainable exploitation of forest resources, which results in environmental degradation, affecting the ecosystem, natural resources, and bio-diversity.

In the last three centuries the imprudent and unrestrained burning of fossil fuel and greenhouse gas emissions has by far been the single most harmful factor leading to global warming.

According to the UN about 75 to 250 million people in Africa are susceptible to increased water stress due to climate change.

In countries that yield from its rain-fed agricultural production will be reduced up to 50% caused by a 2-degree Celsius temperature increase. This consequence of global warming would put over 50% of Africa’s population at risk of undernourishment.

Estimated projections suggest that climate change will lead to a 2-4% annual loss in Africa’s GDP by 2040.

International efforts to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius could make the continent face a climate change adaption cost of $50 billion per annum by 2050. However, the continent has very limited capacity to adapt and is plagued by a widespread poverty.


Despite Africa’s historically negligible carbon emissions and lack of good leadership in some countries, many African countries are now taking part in prioritizing climate change and sustainability by transitioning towards low carbon technologies, resilient and soft carbon infrastructures, and low-carbon tax systems.

Morocco has built the world’s largest concentrated solar facility to enable the country to meet the 52% renewable energy mix goal by 2030.

South Africa’s Carbon Tax Act places specific levies on greenhouse gas emissions, industrial processes, and combustion. The implemented carbon tax could reduce the country’s emissions by 33%, relative to the baseline in 2035.

The biggest energy companies are working to diversify their portfolio and making clean-energy deals; Shell (NYSE: $RDSA) is an example of a big energy company working to diversify. Shell has invested in SolarNow. Which sells high-quality solar solutions in Uganda and Kenya; since the start of SolarNow in 2011, it has supplanted 210,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

The private sector is pushing the shift into renewable; meanwhile, state-owned enterprises in the energy sector both in Africa and globally are lagging.

The African governments needs to support the reform of the state-owned enterprises by introducing competitive procurement for electricity supply. This strategy could enable African institutions and markets to be open to upcoming opportunities in the renewable sector, which could drive down the price of renewables.

African countries have a comparative advantage in renewables due to the abundance of wind, solar, and geothermal resources.

The Sub-Saharan African economy accounts for 70% of livelihood and one-quarter of regional GDP; it includes the energy sector, agriculture, and forestry sectors. There is a plethora of new business opportunities in both food, land and energy sectors.

Land use systems could deliver $320 billion per annum across Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030.

Africa’s transition to a new climate economy is underway in many countries. Still, African countries need money to build a cleaner prosperous future and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.


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