Jakkie Cilliers
Nigeria and Egypt are expected to take the lead as Africa’s largest carbon emitters by 2043, according to scenario planning from Institute for Security Studies’ founder Jakkie Cilliers.

According to the report, titled Climate Change, Energy Thematic Futures, the key reason behind South Africa losing pole position on the continent will be due to Nigeria and Egypt’s economies becoming notably larger than South Africa, which will also likely see a reduction in emissions as its reliance on coal-fired power stations declines.

Nigeria’s increasing emissions are expected to peak in 2090, when the country is forecast to have a population of close to 750 million people and will be responsible for 43% of Africa’s carbon emissions. Nigeria has proven oil and gas reserves, which are noted to remain underutilised in-country.

In Egypt, about 40% of carbon di oxide emissions originate from the oil-and-gas dependent electricity generation.

In the global energy production forecast to 2063, Jakkie expects the production of coal, oil and gas to dominates to 2050, while renewables start growing steadily from 2030 (and beyond).

Weather-related disasters

Africa has experienced just under 1,500 weather-related disasters between 1990 and 2020, according to the report, and the “high social vulnerability and high exposure to natural hazards have affected an estimated 448 million people”.

Both South Africa and Nigeria have experienced climate disasters in recent years, including:

  • Drought: Starting in the Cape metropole, South Africa, in 2015 and peaking in mid-2017 to mid-2018, when dam levels hovered between 15%–30% of total capacity; and
  • Floods: With 200 people losing their lives and more than 150,000 being displaced in 2018, leading to a spike in cholera cases.

These countries have an unenviable combination of fast-growing populations and very low levels of basic infrastructure, making citizens highly vulnerable to the effects of storms, floods and drought.

The report highlights that Africa should commit to achieving net-zero by 2050 – as a minimum standard – even as its development trajectory will be severely affected by climate change.

“Africa needs faster demographic change, higher productivity but at lower levels of emissions, better education, a functioning health system, investment in basic infrastructure such as the provision of potable water, extended agricultural land under irrigation, and good governance to drive development and to provide improved living conditions and security,” Jakkie notes.

“Good governance and long-term planning in Africa are now more important than ever. Mitigation and adaptation to climate change should be an intrinsic part of the African development agenda, such as the purposeful choice to transition to renewable energy and away from fossil fuels,” he adds.



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