Climate change hazards yearly cost African economies $100 billion

Tuesday July 27 2021
ClImate pic

A dejected farmer in Iringa looks at her paddy farm, which was destroyed by floods. Climatic changes are causing colossal losses to farmers. PHOTO | FILE

By Zephania Ubwani

Arusha. Climate change hazards gobble up at least $105 billion of the African economies annually, according to environmental activists.

The economic losses are manifested in loss of crops to weather calamities being floods and severe droughts, pest attacks as well as massive destruction of key infrastructure. Activists from Africa who met in Mali last week said economic losses in the continent due to climatic disasters accounted for 3-to-6 percent of the continent’s gross domestic product (GDP) which stood at $3.5 trillion in 2018.

Africa, they pointed out, was bearing the brunt of climate change losses amounting to three to six percent of its GDP “despite (Africa) having no known responsibilities on climate change”.

The activists raised their concern during a meeting of the civil society organizations (CSOs) that was held in Mali ahead of the UN Conference on Climate Change later this year.

The situation has been compounded by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic which impacted heavily on the African economies through travel and transport restrictions which reduced exports.

“It is unfortunate that the developed countries are turning a blind eye to the twin impacts which demand debt servicing,” lamented Harsen Nyambe from the African Union (AU) Commission.

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He added that refusal by the West to lift the loans at the material time has resulted in Africa sinking into debts and that servicing such debts was becoming almost impossible.

Mr Nyambe said the West’s insistence for Africa to service accumulated debts have left many to wonder if there was “any justice” for Africa, a continent whose economy has been severely impacted by Covid-19.

For his part, Dr Mithika Mwenda, the executive director of the Nairobi-based Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (APCJA) said the African continent was warming twice the global average.

“Combined with Covid-19, climate change has deeply entrenched inequalities, exerting a massive toll on the poor and the vulnerable people who face uncertain future”, he said in a dispatch to The Citizen.

According to the AU biannual Disaster Risk Reduction report of 2019, Africa is experiencing rising intensity, frequency and duration of natural disasters which are associated with climate change.

The report noted that most of the continent’s economies were directly dependent on climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, and tourism, none of which is climate-proof.

“Even our infrastructure cannot withstand the impacts of climate change. The rise in temperature that is projected is likely to cripple our economies and push more of Africa into poverty and derail Africa’s aspirations for Agenda 2063,” it said.

The report added that the West was yet to honour the pledge of $100 billion it made early last year to shore up the continent’s economies in the wake of Covid-19 impact.

Massive investments identified as in infrastructure, capacity building, and technology transfer. Wanjira Maathai, the vice president of the Washington-based World Resource Institute (WRI) noted that there were indications that Africa may not be able to withstand the impacts of climate change given their bleak economic situation.

“This means that the economic agenda to help people withstand the impacts of climate change has to be top priority,” she pointed out.