With Africa being responsible for lower than 4% of global carbon emissions, yet receiving on its lap the wrath of climate change, the need for Africa’s leaders to question the fairness of the phenomenon can’t be over-emphasized.
The just ended Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, UK, provided African Leaders with a platform for them to call into account the other continents which have largely contributed to the climate change and its adverse effects.
Africa’s voice was clearer.
African leaders spoke with a greater confidence for the 1.3 billion Africans, making it clear that even though Africa is cleaning up a mess caused by other continents, as statistics show, Africa is already doing her part.
Africa was ubiquitously represented by over 25 leaders from all corners of the continent, both in-person and virtually.
Their unanimous message was clear, “African countries are doing their part, honour your commitments on climate change by financing poor African countries and work on reducing your carbon emissions.”
When all this is done, Sir David Attenborough’s submissions on the same Summit will be fulfilled; “we will all share the benefits,” he said, “affordable clean energy, healthy air and enough energy to sustain us all.”
Felix Tshisekedi, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo who doubles as the Africa Union Chairperson, told the Summit that he recently launched the Green Launch Program for Africa.
Its aim is to strengthen the measures concentrating on the viability of environment and prosperity in Africa.
On greening the continent for easy carbon recapture and climate restoration, “we want to launch a program that intends to enhance and plant 1 billion trees by 2023,” Tshisekedi said.
He also touched on plans to combine several types of energy sources like biomass, solar and hydro for clean energy production techniques.
Speaking of the Congo Basin, the second largest forested area on the planet, he marveled at it’s ability to enhance climatic equilibrium for the planet.
He highlighted on the many plans being put in place to curb deforestation while at the same time appreciating the need to protect the rights of the 150 indigenous communities inhabiting the region.
On climate, it shelters hundreds of animal species and birds, accommodating a populace of 75 million people.
Therefore, sustainable agriculture, production of clean and sustainable energy, preservation of the rights of local communities and indigenous people are to be factored in the process of industrialization, agricultural investment and forest preservation.
The urgency of the need for mobilization of resources remains vital and concerted effort on all fronts is required.
Expressing the willingness of Congo to partner with other countries for the achievement of the Summit’s goals, he urged for partnerships directed towards the countries around the Congo Basin.
According to Ghana’s President, Nana Akuffo-Addo, “Climate change is the greatest threat to the sustainable development goals.”
With water, agriculture and minerals extraction being the major drivers of development in most African countries yet being sensitive to changing climate, Africa is getting jeopardized.
The head of state argued that it is unfair to claim that Africa has not exploited it’s natural resources in it’s bid to achieve development, at a time when many African countries have just discovered them.
Wealthy countries, by exploiting others, pushed themselves up the ladder of success at the expense of pollution and emission of greenhouse gases, which are now chocking Africa.
Giving statistics that the western world is responsible for 76% of the global carbon emissions, he questioned the ability of Africa to rescue herself without proper foreign financing.
While balancing sustainable development with preservation of natural resources, “We are disappointed by the failure of wealthy nations to honour their commitments of making available 100B USD annually to the poorer countries to assist us in the fight against climate change,” he said.
This agreement was made in 2019, in a UN Climate summit.
Between 2016 and 2018, only 25% of this amount promised to developing countries was disbursed to Africa.
He expressed the commitments and the urgency with which Ghana is combating the phenomenon, expressing the need for equitable solutions which factor the interests of high and low carbon emitters.
Scientists have pointed out that changes in rainfall, weather conditions and sea-level rise will affect the salinity of coastal waters, affecting seafood production, which accounts for 40-60% of protein intake in Ghana.
Access to freshwater is expected to become problematic and reduced water supply will negatively impact hydro-power, which provides 54% of the country’s electricity.
As if that’s not enough, Ghana may witness more cases of malaria and cholera, which are both impacted by changes in water conditions.
The cry is even louder in Madagascar. Having contributed only 0.01% of all carbon dioxide emitted globally from 1933-2019, the country is suffering the pains of climate-change induced drought and hunger. Addressing the COP26 audience in Glasgow on November 2, Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina told the world leaders that there is no room for failure on this issue. “Failure is not an option, we must succeed for us, for our nation and for our planet. The Earth, which has given us everything, is asking us today that we save our planet,” Rajoelina told COP26.
Referring to the hundreds of thousands of Malagasy who are deep in hunger, he said that “Madagascar finds itself a victim of climate change. There are recurrent waves of drought in the south (of Madagascar.) The water sources dry up and all the means of subsistence become almost impossible.” “My compatriots in the south are bearing the weight of climate change which they did not participate in creating,” he added.
Calling such a situation disastrous while branding foreign efforts as lax, he requested for disbursement of the finances pledged to poor countries for a successful fight against climate change.
The same wound of climate change has long festered into Tanzania.
Flooding, rise in sea levels encroaching arable land, the ‘balding’ of Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania’s pride due to glacier melting and unpredictable droughts have all been signs of the overhanging danger.
Samia Suluhu, Tanzania’s President, expressed the worries that all this is happening at a time when Tanzania has dedicated 48 million hectares of land to forest conservation to recapture carbon.
She narrated how the exotic Archipelago Zanzibar has been robbed of its charming beauty by salty water intrusion, flooding and high temperatures, affecting it’s tourism ecology.
Wildlife is in great danger. “What this means to a poor country like Tanzania,” she argued, “is that 30% of our GDP that comes from agriculture, forestry and fisheries is not sustainable.”
With the Paris Agreement goal to achieve 1.5°C yet to be met and commitments to combat the climate change monster still going on a tortoise-speed, she urged for urgency.
Tanzania has raised it’s hydro, geothermal and solar power access rate from 43% in 2017 to almost 70% in 2020, in efforts to rescue itself from the pangs of more pollution.
The country’s reforestation rate has seen a move from 25% to 27% in 2020, through planting of around 276 million trees annually.
“If we, developing countries have shown such leadership, why are larger meeting countries lagging behind?” She posed.
Suluhu also requested for an urgent unlocking of climate financing for the implementation of the agreements.
Kenya has not been sanitized, either.
Unpredictable drought and flooding, looming ecological disasters such as the current excessive water levels in lakes Baringo (fresh water lake) and Bongoria (salty water lake), which are at the verge of joining and mixing up the waters, all define the new phenomenon.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta identified the occasion as a unique opportunity to accelerate innovation and deployment of clean energy solutions in efforts to realize the Paris Agreement goals.
Relying on the scientific data that 759 million people globally have no access to electricity while other 3 billion crave for access to clean cooking fuels and technology, he pointed out that the energy sector is already contributing three-quarters of Greenhouse gases.
Kenya has and is still pulling it’s own cart towards curbing climate change effects, adopting adaptation measures, making clean energy available and accessible for all, while remaining green.
The country has already increased access to electricity from less than 30% in 2013 to above 75% in 2020.
The East African country has installed the biggest wind power plant in Sub-Saharan Africa, while deploying and exploiting geothermal power estimated at providing 10,000 Megawatts.
73% of Kenya’s power is of renewable energy, with 90% of its electricity being harnessed from clean sources.
“Countries must therefore invest more on research and innovation including addressing challenges of technology transfer, to accelerate innovations and deployment of technologies in the energy sector,” Kenyatta reiterated.
Kenya expressed it’s commitment to work with other partners in a bid to accelerate climate solutions, achieve the 1.5°C temperature goal while ensuring accessible, affordable solutions for all.
The President endorsed the Glasgow Breakthroughs agenda for a fair transition of countries from the unabated use of coal to clean energy.
“We urge all parties to step up their ambition in making clean technologies the most affordable, accessible and attractive option in their socioeconomic and development interventions,” President Kenyatta said.
The revolution to rescue the continent from the pangs of climate change has gone all the way to South Africa.
The desire to exit from the use of coal to clean energy while ensuring sustainable development and preservation of environment has consumed them.
“This is so because it will have devastating consequences for our economies and societies if we don’t take action now,” agrees Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s Head of State.
He, addressing the summit, championed for de-carbonization of the energy systems and embracing of new technologies to reduce dependence on hazardous emissions from unclean sources.
He said that a just transition in South Africa requires financial and technological support from wealthier countries.
According to President Ramaphosa, the country recently announced a political declaration with France, Germany, USA, UK and European Union, a partnership through which an initial $8.5 Billion will be mobilized by 2025 to support South Africa’s just transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient future.
Nigeria’s story is not any different.
Lake Chad has metamorphosed from an expanse of natural biodiversity to a mere shadow of itself, as President Muhammadu Buhari said. Desertification in the North, erosion along the coast and floods in the centre have redefined Nigeria’s climate.
The country is committed to embracing hydro-power, solar projects and renewable energy system, not to repeat past mistakes on energy production.
Based on data and evidence, the country has developed a detailed Energy Transition Plan and Roadmap to ensure carbon recapture and the use of clean energy.
Africa is doing all she can to patiently clean up the mess and impede the possible disaster.
The continent has braced herself for the battle, accepting that, as in the words of former USA President, Barrack Obama, “Our planet has been wounded by our actions.
Those wounds won’t be healed today or tomorrow or the next; but they can be healed, by the grace.”