As the new year begins, Africa’s nations continue in their efforts for sustainable economic growth. As a growing number of organisations address these challenges in Africa with more sustainable measures and agreements, the dichotomy between economic growth and environmental protection remain key issues, which not only African nations must continue to tackle, but also other members of the global village.
There are various environmental risks to consider across the continent, many of which will vary by state. Agricultural yields on the continent may be reduced by 15% to 20%. In a 2011 report, the Centre for Global Development forecasts agricultural productivity losses (resulting from climate change) ranging from 18% in North Africa to 19.8% in Central Africa through 2050.
These losses may be augmented by rising temperatures and carbon dioxide on the continent. Although many African nations may benefit from a feedback loop, where improvements in agricultural practices increase yields and consequently improve the carbon sequestration capacity of cultivated soil, they may be challenged by the relatively low proportion of funds related to climate change that all geographic regions account for (4%).
Efforts made by African states towards a transition to cleaner energy may be assisted by the influence of government subsidies and the middle class. The adoption of small-scale solar battery devices such as Tesla’s Powerwall battery, for example, would cost $3000, which is higher than the average per capita income across sub-Saharan Africa.
However, the 24 hours of uninterrupted power supply of these batteries can be used to circumvent these challenges as they could be utilised in corporate pools for communities whose households may not be able to individually afford solar batteries of their own. While the average urban African household only needs six hours of energy a day to run productively, rural households require significantly less.
Solar Vs Fusils
40% of African communities that use solar energy still rely on fossil fuels. Unsurprisingly, coal and oil will remain dominant sources of energy for Africa. Ottmar Edenhofer, head economist of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, stated:
“Coal is about to enjoy the biggest renaissance in the history of economics.”
This should not be cause for alarm but rather an indication of the positive collaborative efforts that may be made by more organisations in the future hoping to increase the supply of energy in Africa.
Oil and gas company Green Energy International Limited (GEIL) plans to invest over two billion nairas to generate six megawatts (MW) of electricity for host communities across Nigeria. As further reforms are made in the power sector, more notable developments like these are likely to arise.
Money And Reforms Needed
This may depend largely on how such reforms facilitate the availability of finance in the continent. A financial close took place in 2015 – Nigeria’s first Greenfield independent power producer project under its new regulatory framework, ensuring prospects remain bright for the 450MW gas-fired Azura-Edo electricity project.
There are many opportunities that lie behind the challenges in the energy sector.
From these opportunities spring forth innovation and collaboration which prepare developing economies for further growth.
The main priority of many nations, to empower the populace, will be achieved as the wisdom of time lays the foundations for a brighter Africa. The growth potential of Africa’s various sectors will be necessary to guide key decisions.