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Africa's short end of the stick in climate change

The war in Ukraine has brought to the forefront yet again Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and gas and the absolute need to find fuel alternatives. Africa can easily be that alternative through the provision of solar power.

A worker gestures to colleagues during an inspection of photovoltaic solar panels at the Senergy Santhiou Mekhe PV solar plant in Thies, Senegal.

An Eiffage employee gestures to a counterpart while they perform maintenance on solar panels at the Senergy Santhiou Mekhe PV solar plant in Thies, Senegal. (Xaume Olleros/Bloomberg)

Solar energy driven by investments in an energy grid either in the Sahel or Sahara deserts can provide full fuel self sufficiency to all of Europe, or at least provide a reliable alternative source of energy. This energy will be cheap and green when economies of scale are established. This is the time to think about Africa again as a source of solar power to provide green alternative energy to Europe and beyond. 

And Africa is suffering the most from carbon emissions coming from developing countries. After all, Africa accounts for only 2–3 per cent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions from energy and industrial sources. 

Africa can easily be said to contribute the least of any continent to global warming. Each year Africa produces an average of just over 1 metric ton of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide per person, accordingly the least in the world

Increases in temperature and changes in rainfall patterns coming from the burning of fossil fuels also significantly affects population health across Africa. Warmer temperatures and higher rainfall increase habitat suitability for biting insects and the transmission of vector-borne diseases such as dengue fever, malaria and yellow fever. So yes, climate change is already affecting the African continent and determinately affecting growth. 

Africa certainly needs an engine for growth that can offset exogenous factors like climate change. This source of growth can be investments in solar energy to benefit both Europe and Africa. The time to start looking at Africa as a source of solar power and green energy is now. Everyone will benefit, jobs will be created in an African continent thirsty for job creation, Europe will get the energy it needs, and African deserts will come to life and help solve the world’s unending thirst for energy.



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