The statistics are impressive: Africa’s combined GDP is more than $2 trillion dollars, the continent is home to seven of the world’s fastest growing economies and 70% of the population is 25 years or younger and hungry for growth and innovation.
Africa’s economy is booming
Over the past decade Africa has been one of the world’s fastest-growing continents with an average growth rate of more than 5%, partly due to improved governance and economic reforms. It is also due to the continent’s economy diversifying away from its reliance on natural resources towards manufacturing, telecommunications, transport and finance.
This diversification has even occurred in the most resource-intensive economies of Africa – Nigeria and Angola. Nigeria has Africa’s second largest reserves of oil and is the continent’s fifth largest exporter, yet services now account for 60% of GDP, while in Angola, the continent’s second-largest oil producer, the country’s economic growth rate of 5.1% came mainly from construction and manufacturing.
However, Africa is also home to many social, economic and environmental challenges that threaten future economic growth including:
- 5% of Sub-Saharan’s live in extreme poverty,
- 76% of households are not connected to the electricity grid,
- 70% do not have access to improved sanitation,
- 66% of the continent is arid or semi-arid,
- Over 300 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa live in a water-scarce environment
- 11 million young Africans are expected to join the labour force every year.
The Green economy powers Africa forward
To ensure Africa’s economy remains on a sustainable trajectory the economies of Africa have begun transitioning towards the green economy – an economy that results in improved human-wellbeing and social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcity. Specifically, a green economy is one where growth, income and employment is driven by industries that reduce carbon emissions and pollution, enhance energy and resource efficiency and prevents losses of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Sustainable agriculture in Kenya
In Kenya’s agricultural sector studies have shown that a reallocation of investments from chemical to organic inputs would result in higher agricultural productivity: the average agricultural yield under the green economy scenario would exceed the business-as-usual scenario by approximately 15% by 2030, enabling organic farmers to tap into a growing US$105 billion global market for organic food and beverages.
Renewable energy across the continent
In Senegal, the country is expanding its solar and wind energy capacity that will create between 7,600-30,000 additional jobs by 2035, while in Burkina Faso renewable energy production is projected to rise from 20% in 2012 to 60% in 2050, saving up to 100,000 hectares of forest and reducing GHG emissions by 10,000 tonnes.
Water efficiency in households and agriculture
In Egypt, green economy investments can be directed to water efficiency improvements. By investing in simple household water-saving devices for domestic use the country will make annual water savings of 10-20% while investments in agricultural water efficiency could save as much as 40% or 23 billion cubic metres of water per annum.
To ensure Africa’s long-term economic growth is sustainable green economy investments need to be made to ensure growth is not derailed by social and environmental challenges.