AFRICA: Is our voice against climate change loud enough?

Many have undertaken to discuss, write and publicly talk about climate change due to global warming, how the change is already affecting different regions of the globe and what should be done to either reverse or impede the possible calamity.

National and international conferences, TED Talks, scientific reports and news have been constantly done to address the issue.

Climate change has however remained an evergreen topic, gaining greater importance as days keep clicking.

Scientists have warned us of the overhanging danger, narrowing down to Africa as the major recipient of the weight and destructive effects of climate change.

Research reminds us that Africa contributes almost as low as 0.92 billion metric tonnes of Carbon Dioxide per year ( below 4%), relative to USA, the super-emmiter, which contributes over 5.7 billion metric tonnes of Carbon Dioxide (over 23%) of the world’s total CO2 emissions per year.

Africa, though easily justifiable as a nearly insignificant contributor, faces a cruel irony that, in many experts’ opinion, people living in Africa, which has contributed the least to global warming, are in the danger of being the hardest hit by the resulting climate changes!

In Africa, the effects of climate change are all crystal clear.

Less than a week ago, the media highlighted on scientists’ worries that the ice on top of Mounts Kenya and Kilimanjaro, the highest mountains in Africa, is now disappearing.

This is due to the increasing temperatures being experienced in the continent and the world at large.

This has made the ice-fed rivers nearby to start drying up, especially during the dry season, causing water shortages for over a million people who live in the slopes of the two mountains.

Anybody wishing to see the mountain peaks fully covered with snow again might have to wait for decades.

A United Nations Climate Change report points out that the year 2019 was among the three warmest years on record for Africa.

That trend is expected to continue. African temperatures in recent decades have been warming at a rate comparable to that of most other continents.

The latest predictions, covering a five-year period from 2020 to 2024, show a continued warming and decreasing rainfall especially over North and Southern Africa, and increased rainfall over the Sahel (region south of the Kalahari desert).

While causing long droughts on some regions, these changes are bringing floods and coastal erosion to others.

In Kenya for instance, high water levels have been witnessed in Lakes Victoria and Baringo, encroaching into surrounding areas, forcing out the residents.

Last year, those living near Lake Nakuru were affected by floodwaters from the lake, which had crossed their natural boundaries.

The UN-sponsored International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says continued “greenhouse effect” will cause an increase in global mean temperatures of 1.4 to 5.8°C by the end of this century.

This will account for about 20 percent of the global water scarcity.

According to a BBC World News Report in 2019, in Southern Africa, scientists are noticing a delay in the onset and a drying of early summer rains, which they predict to worsen in forthcoming decades.

Temperatures there are predicted to rise by 5° C or more, particularly in the parts of Namibia, Botswana and Zambia that are already intolerably hot.

Meanwhile, in Kenya and Tanzania, the long rains from March to May are predicted to be starting later and ending sooner – leading to an overall decrease in rainfall.

This shows how Africa is slowly absorbing the anger of climate change.

BBC notes that Africa’s capacity to adapt to climate change is low and the governance of the continent has been failing to prioritise and act on matters climate change.

Research has it that the Indian Ocean is rising at a level of 3.7 millimeters annually, and extreme sea disasters are being expected nearly every year.

With warming levels estimated to be three times higher than in the Pacific, coastal areas across the Indian Ocean region are likely to see a continuous rise in sea levels, resulting in severe coastal erosion, argues Arjun Gargeyas, a research analyst.

This would affect over a third of the world’s population, which depends on the Indian Ocean for its economy, scientific research and food from the ocean’s flora and fauna.

Islands such as Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles are in an overhanging danger!

So far, Africa has not taken significant measures to rescue these countries.

Notably, few African countries like Morocco, Kenya and Nigeria are working towards reducing harmful emissions by embracing modern technology in agriculture, transport and power production.

Kenya’s National Climate Change Action Plan is a five-year plan aimed at enabling Kenya adapt to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2022, by providing applicable mechanisms and measures to achieve low carbon climate and prioritise gradual adaptation.

However, if the world at large fails to step up climate action, continuing on our current climate trend could force nearly 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030, with Africa being the most exposed region!

At the verge of more adverse effects of climate change on the African continent, one can easily wonder if African leaders have really been on the forefront in dealing with the menace.

What have our leaders done to ensure that the continent does not continue to suffer due to other continents’ mistakes and ignorance?

What have the Northern and Southern countries, which might get hard hit, done to escape?

Sadly, most of the community-based non-profits organisations working to fight climate change are either underfunded or totally not funded!

Africans cannot help but wonder if African governments are unable or unwilling to save their population from this calamity.

Is the African voice loud enough to awaken the world and call it to action?

On 14th September 2021, Mo Ibrahim, a global businessman and founder of Mo Ibrahim Foundation, addressed a conference on Climate, Conflict & Demography in Africa.

The event saw prominent speakers and experts from across Africa and beyond join hands to debate on the impact of climatic trends on the continent.

They implored ways in which African countries can use (their collective voice) to best influence global climate debates.

Surprisingly however, is the fact that African leaders rarely go beyond the agreements, long speeches and detailed minutes recorded during their conferences to implement them.

The time for Africa to speak up against unchecked global CO2 emissions is now!

The previous UN Climate Change Conference (Conference of the Parties- COP-25), held in 2019, saw only 5 African member states get represented by the respective Heads of State, out of the 33 African States eligible to attend so far.

DRC, Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa’s heads of state, during the virtual Leaders Summit, emphasized the indispensable role the continent must play in global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to 1.5° Celsius.

The next global conference on climate change, COP-26, being jointly hosted by the UK and Italy as from 31st October to 12th November 2021 in Glasgow, UK, is another chance for Africa to shout out her opinions.

Africans desire to see all the 33 member countries speak in one voice against global warming.

Africans hope to not only hear the unified voice of Africa on climate change and unchecked CO2 emissions, but also see the voice’s impact on global decisions.

Africa has to rise up and defend herself in the ears of the world because as in the words of Barrack Obama, “climate change is no longer some far-off problem. It is happening here, it is happening now.”

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Mr. Makau holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics, Media & Communication from Moi University, Kenya. He is a Columnist and Editor with Scholar Media Africa, with a keen interest in Education, Health, Climate Change, and Literature.


  1. Impressive. The climate changes is a me and us problem, we must act in unison to at least end the problem as it stands now. Our and future generations survival lies on steps we make today, today.


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