Africa is in need of an economic transformation in an effort to revive the continent’s ailing growth rates following the Growth Miracle of the early 2000s, while simultaneously promoting development and climate goals, according to a new report published today by the New Climate Economy.
The new report, Africa’s New Climate Economy, is the first report to combine economic transformation in Africa with the parallel goals of improving development and climate policy in one comprehensive assessment. The report delves deeply into four key economic systems which would benefit from economic transformation and green growth — cities, land use, industry, and energy — while also presenting four key priorities:
- Modernizing and improving agriculture and land use
- Diversifying economies into manufacturing and other high-productivity sectors
- Managing urbanization
- Accelerating the transition to modern, sustainable energy
The report covers a wide variety of issues, some of which are beyond the scope of CleanTechnica. The authors of the report touch on the need for workers to transition out of low-productivity sectors such as agriculture to high-productivity sectors like industry and services. Specifically, in sub-Saharan Africa, 60% of employment is in agriculture, while only 5% is in manufacturing, meaning that “the potential is enormous.” Similarly, the report concludes that sub-Saharan Africa’s cities will increase by almost 800 million people, with the authors claiming that a shift towards urbanization is a necessary next-step, to make the most of “compact, connected, and coordinated cities” which together “can create agglomeration benefits and reduce air pollution and traffic costs.”
“The choices that African leaders make in the next few years will have major implications for economic growth, human well-being and climate resilience in the decades ahead,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former finance minister of Nigeria and a member of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. “It’s encouraging to see these three priorities brought together.”
The report, available here, dedicates its third chapter to “Economic transformation and the climate challenge in sub-Saharan Africa.” Specifically, as the authors of the report note, “Economic transformation in sub-Saharan Africa is occurring in the context of increasing climate change.” This is easily one of the most important aspects of any attempt to transform the African economy (if we are to put aside any misgivings about turning Africa into just another Westernized country), as Africa is likely to be the region worst affected by climate change. Additionally, the well-known lack of reliable and safe electricity is another issue, with 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa currently without access to electricity. Any economic transformation must not only take into account this lack of reliable electricity access, but is likely to benefit substantially from focusing on it as a key issue, with the opportunity for huge levels of investment to develop the many renewable resources in Africa — including the potential for 1,100 GW of solar capacity.
“Across multiple sectors, economic, social, and environmental transformations can reinforce each other and create numerous virtuous circles,” says Milan Brahmbhatt, lead author of the report. “Many of the policy and institutional reforms needed to boost growth and reduce poverty over the next 15 years will also contribute to better management of climate risk.”
Conversely, while these transformations can affect one another, so too do the risks affect each other if nothing is done. Climate change is expected to dramatically harm the continent’s agriculture industry, not to mention impact the health and livability of its populations. Increased temperatures will have a detrimental impact on both human health and productivity, which in turn affects labor and industrial production. Additionally, the low-lying coastal areas are likely to be hit by rising sea levels and increasing climatic events, displacing large populations and causing billions in damages.
There are also wider impacts to consider, such as the impact on global warming and the global attempt to restrict rising temperatures. If the continent of Africa does not transform, it will remain a drain of carbon resources the earth cannot afford, creating issues far afield for other countries, developed and otherwise.