Just like any other country in the world, African countries face the terrible effects of climate change. Though the African countries may not be among the top contributors to global warming, action on climate change on their part is needed. However, Africa is now torn between concentrating developing itself and fighting climate change. Indeed she cannot afford to develop and ignore actions on climate change because at it stands, the same effects felt in Beijing, China are felt in Nairobi, Kenya. What is the best choice of action for developing African countries then?
For decades, countries like Nigeria have been heavily relying on fossil fuels for growth of their economy. Currently, Nigeria is one of the strongest economies in Africa thanks to fossil fuel extraction. Apart from the obvious benefits accompanying the extraction, it has led to, among others, two effects: climate change and what economists call Dutch disease.
Starting with the latter, this is a situation where a country heavily relies on one sector of the economy, forgetting other important sectors. Though the Economist argues that Dutch disease is entirely not a bad thing since economies should arguably focus on what they are efficient in producing, this direction of argument should not be adopted by Nigeria. Instead, African countries should consider investing heavily on other sectors of the economy, specifically agriculture which has several benefits including food security.
On climate change angle: Nigeria is the eighth producer of oil in the world, good for their economy. Unfortunately, Nigeria also flares gas about half of what all of Africa emits. Carbon di-oxide and methane contained in these gases leads to global warming. Rising sea levels, drying of lakes and an interference of eco-system are some of the glaring effects of climate change.
This begs the question whether we can develop as a continent without interfering with our environment. Thinking of this, we land at the UN-fronted sustainable development goals. Can we eradicate poverty and develop sustainably as Africa? We do not have a choice, we have to. But how will Africa, which already faces a myriad of problems in regard to their economies, develop sustainably?
Policies that will ensure tapping of renewable energy should be top of the list. Investments should be channeled towards harnessing bio, wind, solar and geothermal energy. This is because energy is one of the main drivers of an economy. Currently, small-scale renewable energy projects are spread across the African continent. The question is to which extent this can be augmented to, to make African industries run on renewable sources of energy. Extending this to each and every part of the continent would see great steps made in alleviating Africa from poverty.
Hence we should look critically into the amount of investment the international development partners are willing to roll out to African countries for development. This is not only a way of curbing climate change, but also finds a solution to the ever-present debate of whether Africa really needs aid or investment. In our case, the latter would be the best option for the energy sector. Hence heavy investment in renewable sources of energy for development is required in Africa. If this is not met, she will strive to develop but almost entirely on fossil fuels which in this case is detrimental for our climate. Countries like Kenya and Uganda have recently discovered deposits of fossil fuels ready to be extracted.
We however must note that development partners such as the World Bank Group, African Development Bank among others are really doing a great job in regard to ensuring that Africa develops mostly using renewable sources of energy. Governments and political systems should however stop efforts to thwart policies and formulas meant to see actions on climate change a reality.