One of the greatest threats to Africa’s economy is climate change. Climate change tests not only this continent’s development and survival but also Africa’s resiliency.
What is the outlook of the current African economy amid global threats such as climate change? An alarming subject, yet something that anyone and everyone should heed and pay attention to, Africa’s climate change-stricken economy is an eye-opener to the neighboring countries and the rest of the world. Samuel Enajite Enajero’s book Collective Institutions in Industrialized Nations delves into the African socioeconomic factors. Enajero talks about societies living without dynamic collective institutions relying on fundamental institutions at the zero order – zero order institutions and poverty. Developing nations of sub-Saharan Africa currently struggle with economic development. One of the factors significantly impacting their economic development and growth is climate change.
Africa and the Climate Change
Climate change is the greatest warning to the existence of humankind. So significant is this threat that it can threaten livelihoods and men’s lives. With the ever-increasing ocean temperature, rising sea level, and intense drought affecting crops, plants, and wildlife species, there’s no stopping the hazards and havoc wrecked on the planet.
The continent in focus of this article – the African continent – highlights the effect of the bludgeoning force of global climate change on this tropical, sub-Saharan continent. Africa is generally tagged as one of the poorest continents in the world due to a history of conquest and occupation of colonialism, inter-regional ethnic conflict, and constant political strife, despite being the birthplace of the human race. Now, it faces another looming menace that worsens and worsens every minute – the perils of climate change.
Africa’s climate range is a surprising, delightful contrasting mix of equatorial, tropical wet and dry, tropical monsoon, semi-arid, desert-like, and subtropical highland climate. Africa lies within the intertropical zone between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, grounding Africa as the most tropical continent. And because of the persistent hot and dry climate, the African continent is the most vulnerable to climate change.
It’s not Africa’s natural landscape that contributes to the impact brought by climate change on the continent. In fact, it is a conjoined effort of century after century of man’s abuse of natural sources worldwide. Setting fire to fossil fuels such as natural gas, coal, and oil to produce electricity and heat generates global emissions, commonly known as air pollutants. These air pollutants have adverse environmental effects such as acid rain, smog, and decreased atmospheric visibility.
Cutting down trees for the sake of progress not only lessens man’s supply of clean natural oxygen to breathe in but also destroys and hinders nature’s capacity to prevent carbon dioxide from spreading into the air since trees are natural carbon dioxide absorbers. Aside from that, the loss of trees and vegetation contributes to soil erosion and desertification, which results in extreme flooding events and heat exposure for most vegetation, people, and wildlife.
Climate Change and the Economy
Studies show that by 2030, extreme weather and climate change will severely impact African countries. From that onset, the already majority poverty-stricken nation will start experiencing macroeconomic losses.
The most vulnerable sector to climate change is agriculture. With Africa’s currently hot and dry natural landscape, temperatures and precipitation are likely to see a significant variation and increase, affecting crop and soil fertility and ultimately affecting Africa’s primary source of livelihood.
With the rising temperature, Africa’s agricultural sector is likely to experience more, if not prolonged, periods of droughts, and floods, brought by extreme weather occurrences such as the El Niño or La Niña. Because of this, the industry’s crop revenue could drop as low as 90% by 2100. The percentage of arable land available for production could also decline as lands become much and much less unfit for agricultural activity.
The fishing sector also sees a drastically decreasing productivity trend due to rising sea temperatures. There is an increase in fish migration activity as fishes abandon their original territories to seek much cooler waters. Hence, this also affects Africa’s food supply.
This being said, climate change brought into the spotlight the African economy’s top concerns: food security, industrialization, labor, inter, intra, and global trade. Food security regarding food supply, nutrition, storage, and sustainable management. Industrialization, labor, and trade when it comes to affected infrastructures, unemployment, decrease in export supply, etc.
One could see the impact brought by climate change on Africa’s economy through a decline in labor and revenue, decrease or loss of productivity, unemployment, damage to infrastructure and property, mass migration, security threats, etc.
With Africa’s resiliency greatly affected by the adverse progression brought by global warming, extreme weather, and climate change, and a projected outlook of grim macroeconomic consequences in the following decades, this begs the question, is there still hope for Africa’s economy?
It all depends on how much effort individuals, businesses, and the government puts in to pull Africa out of the abyss it is currently in the climate change situation. The measures people adapt, drastic or not, will be the make or break point of Africa’s economic growth. Individuals need to consider their actions and initiatives in saving the environment.
The working sector or industries need to analyze their operations carefully and scrutinize the best sustainable practices that work well with the environment and climate change. Government should be proactive and initiate programs, activities, agendas, and laws to counter and prepare for the effects of climate change. Government leaders should invest in development programs to help recover their economic losses and strengthen and improve current infrastructure, resources, and industries.
Ultimately, Africa’s economic resiliency may be tested. However, there is still much hope left for survival and growth – so long as all sectors move forward in one direction to fight against global warming and survive the impact of climate change.