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Innovation for sustainability in Africa
Is Africa heading for Climate Change? the 30/09/16

Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Chad, the Central African Republic, Nigeria and Sierra Leone are among the 10 countries most affected by climate change. However, Africa is responsible for only 2 to 4 % of green house global gas emissions however, just as the rest of the world, with the upcoming COP 22 (from 7th to 18th Nov. 2016), the continent must change to fight against climate change.

Global warming has disastrous consequences for the African continent:

  • Floods (increase in illnesses such as malaria or dengue fever fuelled by the an increase in rainfall and temperatures, displacement of people, destruction of villages
  • Drought (low rainfall leading to a very high drought related mortality rate, gradual loss of glaciers such as that of Kilimanjaro …)
  • Impact on the quality of water: in Nigeria for example, some people do not have access to potable water
  • Food and agriculture are also affected: decrease in yields from farming and cattle rearing. Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, to mention a few, are going through a food crisis
  • Impact on human health: a fall in the quality of air, heat waves bringing about respiratory illnesses
  • Very vulnerable people: women, children and the aged are undermined (water shortage, labour, climate refugees)
  • National security: climate change leads to international conflicts usually related to the desire for natural resources, fertile areas…

Africa however, consumes little energy: 621 million people do not have access to electricity. Consumption increases to 139 billion KWH with a population of 860 million, less than a country such as Spain which consumes 243 billion KWH with a population of 47million (Le Monde, 2016). For example, a Tanzanian will consume in eight years what an American consumes in a month! There are thus significant differences from one country to the other. South Africa has the highest emissions of green house gas on the continent: about 500 million tons of CO2 per annum. Coal is responsible for these emissions, 90% of electricity is produced using coal.

Climate change

Relying on renewable energy!

Renewable energy could represent 94% of electricity production in 2050. And Africa has a huge potential for the development of such energy like wind, solar (particularly in the Sahel) or hydraulic (the hydro electric plant in Uganda). Many African countries are now relying on green energy.

With current technology, carbon emissions can be reduced by half come 2050, according to Greenpeace. The continent could be the precursor of affordable energy, which creates jobs and promotes economic growth. Even if it is true that for African countries, the main objective is economic development, the continent must still confront issues such as weak economies, inadequate education, health and weak infrastructure in many countries; an observation which highlights the inadequacies in adapting the political system. It is however obvious that it is not possible to envisage economic development which does not take into consideration environmental issues.

The COP 22 from 7th to 18th November 2016 should be part of the process of firming up the various issues identified as part of the Paris Treaty (1st global treaty on climate). Each country must elaborate its national adaptation plan.

Africa’s challenge today is to preserve nature and its ecosystem for humanity and future generations.

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