African countries face major climate-related challenges, but at the same time they have the opportunity to achieve sustainable low-carbon economies, according to a new report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The report, titled “Building a Climate-Resilient, Low-Carbon, Job-Rich Africa,” identifies particular disadvantages that countries on the continent must overcome but also their potential to become a model for transforming a power system based on fossil fuels to one based on renewables.
Stefano Niavas, a senior partner and coauthor of the report, commented: “Although in 2019, Africa drove only 4% of global CO2 emissions, and about three-quarters of that total came from just five countries—South Africa (33%), Egypt (17%), Algeria (12%), Nigeria (10%), and Morocco (5%), the continent accounts for 35 of the 50 countries worldwide that are at greatest risk from the effects of climate change. “. To make the transition to climate resilience over the coming years, the continent must attract extensive global investments in decarbonization and other climate-related projects and must mobilize African leaders and the international community to realize those investments.
Patrick Dupoux, a BCG managing director and senior partner and a coauthor of the report, commented: “Urgent global action is needed to help underwrite climate adaptation measures in Africa. Even in a scenario where average temperature increases are limited to 2°C, the costs of adaptation for Africa could exceed $35 billion a year by 2050, rising to $200 billion a year by the 2070s. Unfortunately, while many countries and corporations have increased their commitments to reducing their own carbon footprint, we see no sign of increasing commitments to mobilize investments for developing nations. The $100 billion annual requirement mentioned in the Paris agreement is far from being met. We believe that a just transition to a lower-carbon planet must take into account the historic and current low levels of emissions from Africa.”
Making Progress Toward Net Zero
At the same time, however, African countries have a chance to create resilience for their economies and societies, and to advance their industrial development. To avoid disastrous consequences and seize promising opportunities, African countries and the international community should prioritize three actions:
Invest massively in climate adaptation. African countries must mobilize massive funds to build climate resilience. Collaboration with and financial support from the international community will be critical to achieving this.
Build the foundation for low-carbon, socioeconomic development. By leveraging new technologies and business models, African countries can chart their own low-carbon development paths optimized to local contexts.
Accelerate the creation of local green manufacturing capabilities. African countries need to harness their natural resources and local capabilities to drive the creation of localized green manufacturing hubs in renewable energy, carbon sequestration, climate-resilient food systems, and other areas. Doing so can create millions of jobs and spearhead Africa’s industrial development.
Tolu Oyekan, a partner and managing director of BCG stated that, “To ensure that Africa realizes its green potential, African countries must drive collaboration on national, regional, and international levels and across sectors. The critical starting point is to develop ambitious national climate resilience plans that foster concrete adaptation strategies, establish regional and international collaboration, and attract viable investments that meet the financial, technological, and capacity-building challenges prevalent on the continent. Such plans, which would be multisectoral, with contributions from the private sector, will clearly identify key roles by all stakeholders.”
To drive its green potential, the Nigerian government, for instance, established the Department of Climate Change, under the Ministry of Environment, charged with drawing up a strategic approach to address the issue. The National Climate Change Policy Response and Strategy (NCCPRS) was developed “to strengthen national initiatives to adapt to and mitigate climate change in a participatory manner involving all sectors of the Nigerian society.”