Climate change, urban development and $ 832 million in natural disasters for Africa

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Africa does not contribute much to global warming, but the continent is at greater risk of climate change. Africa accounts for less than 2% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and yet faces the greatest threats from climate change.

According to a new report on how to finance Africa’s green cities titled “Financing Urban Opportunities in Africa: The Why, What and How of Funding Africa’s Green Cities”, climate change is putting the development gap urban Africa in sharper contrast.

“Africa represents less than 2% of current GHG emissions, yet it is the most vulnerable to climate change. Much of the continent is already warming faster than the rest of the world. By 2050, average air temperatures in Africa will almost certainly be at least 2 ° C above the long-term average, ”the report says.

The report indicates that therefore, Africa’s urban development is likely to face unprecedented biophysical risks. The low capacity to withstand the impacts of natural disasters costs Africa around $ 832 million each year, with an increasing share of this cost being borne by cities, ”he added.

It notes that 79 of Africa’s fastest growing cities, including 15 African capitals and many of the continent’s major commercial centers, are at “extreme risk” from climate change.

Identifying three pillars that will be crucial for low-carbon and climate-resilient urban development, the report points to compact urban growth, connected infrastructure and clean technologies.

“They can generate cost and resource savings, create jobs through economies of scale and agglomeration, and foster resilience and productivity. When these pillars are implemented with an emphasis on the principles of resilience and inclusiveness, they have the potential to create lasting change for all, ”he says.

The report was prepared by the Coalition for Urban Transitions, a global initiative to help national governments accelerate economic development and tackle climate change by transforming cities and towns, in collaboration with the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) and Vivid Economics on behalf of FSD Africa.

According to the authors, it is based on extensive consultations with global and local organizations, namely the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Global Development Incubator (GDI), the African Development Bank ( AfDB), the African Center of Cities (ACC), FSD Africa, Atlantic Council, World Resources Institute (WRI) and New Climate Economy (NCE).

The report further states that Africa’s future will depend on the success of its cities, noting that with an astonishing increase in the continent’s urban population and the fastest urban growth rate in the world, the region is expected to multiply. by two of its urban population over the next 40 years.

“While this urbanization holds great transformative potential for the development of the continent, Africa is struggling to secure its urban dividend. Fragmented, disconnected, polluted and costly: this status quo model of urbanization imposes significant economic and social costs on African cities, ”the report says.

It further states that the unprecedented scale of urban growth has made effective and inclusive urban planning extremely difficult.

He points out that poorly planned cities are characterized by unmanaged sprawl, increased distance between residents and work opportunities, rapid growth of informal settlements on the urban outskirts, increased cost of service provision, congestion severe, local air pollution, inefficient use of energy, high greenhouse effect. gas emissions (GHG) and other negative impacts.

“This has led to a lack of compact and socially inclusive cities served by public transport, clean water and clean energy, in large part due to the relative low income levels against which urbanization takes place and the low resulting level of resources that can potentially be mobilized for urban investments.

The centralization of power, inefficient taxation and the absence or poor quality of the land register are other factors that have made urban sprawl the urban form by default, ”he says.

According to the report, in 35 major cities in Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa, investments in more compact, clean and connected cities are expected to generate total benefits equal to $ 1.1 trillion by 2050, supporting hundreds of thousands of additional jobs compared to conventional fossil fuels. fuel investment.

“By 2050, investments in urban climate interventions in major cities of Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa could generate $ 240 billion, $ 140 billion and $ 700 billion in benefits, respectively, the equivalent of 250% of annual GDP (2020) in Ethiopia, 150 percent. 100% in Kenya and 200% in South Africa. New investments in urban climate interventions are also expected to generate greater economic benefits, including additional jobs over traditional fossil-fuel energy consumption, resulting in an average of 210,000 net new jobs in Ethiopia, 98,000 in Kenya and 120,000 in South Africa by 2050, ”he adds.

However, it indicates that for the 35 major cities of Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa, achieving compact, connected and clean cities will require an additional $ 280 billion in investment by 2050, a level of large investment relative to planned spending to achieve national climate goals. across the three countries. While a significant amount of investment is needed to deliver compact, clean and connected cities in Africa, the case for investing rests on strong returns. In all three countries, the net present value (NPV) or the extent to which the benefits exceed the costs over the period up to 2050 gives very large positive net returns. For the major cities of Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa, they are expected to be $ 90 billion, $ 52 billion and $ 190 billion, respectively.

He notes that over the past 60 years, economic activity across the African continent has shifted significantly from rural to urban areas.

“In 2015, more than half of the continent’s population lived in one of the 7,617 urban agglomerations. In absolute terms, the urban population grew by 2,000 percent, from 27 million in 1950 to 567 million in 2015. Estimates suggest that 143 cities generate a combined economic output of $ 0.5 trillion, totaling 50 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) GDP ”, he says and adds that it is therefore not surprising that the African Union’s Agenda 2063 considers functional urban sectors as“ a major driver of the transformation of the continent ” through their contribution to economic growth, job creation and poverty reduction.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
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