An old African proverb proclaims, “It is the young trees that make up the forest.” What this means in the present context is that Africa’s youth will determine its future. Indeed, Africa will not rise unless young people provide leadership and leverage their tech-savviness to mobilise for the realisation of better policies – policies that promote inclusive development.
In the last quarter of 2015 Africa joined the rest of the world in adopting the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development as well as the COP21 Paris agreement. As the most vulnerable region to climate change, these two crucial high level global strategic and policy decisions together with Africa’s own strategies, like the AU Agenda 2063, could set the continent on a growth path, guaranteeing food security, environmental resilience and economic inclusivity.
One of the expected outcomes from the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) is that it will provide a framework for actualizing the 2030 Agenda on sustainable development. However, achieving these noble ideals will not be possible without tackling climate change. Although Africa’s emissions remain negligible, the continent is the most vulnerable to climate change because its major economic sectors are highly climate sensitive and its adaptive capacity relatively weak.
African countries have the most visa requirements in the world. Only 11 of the 54 countries on the continent offer 100% liberal access to all African citizens – Seychelles, Uganda, Cape Verde, Togo, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Rwanda, Comoros, Djibouti, Madagascar and Somalia. Another seven countries – Mozambique, Mauritius, Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania, Gambia and Burkina Faso – offer liberal access to citizens from at least 50% of the countries on the continent. This is in stark contrast to the European Union (EU), which offers complete freedom of movement to all citizens from its member states.
The ills facing Africa today, including low agricultural productivity under a changing climate to Africa’s socio-economic growth, are widely documented. A consequence of low agricultural productivity, Africa spends more than US$ 35 billion annually on food imports, while food worth up to US$ 48 billion is lost annually in the postharvest and a further 6.6 million tonnes of potential grain harvest – enough to meet annual calorific needs of approximately 30 million people – is written off as productivity loss due to degraded ecosystems.
Building on what has proven to work in Africa will go a long way in ensuring that agriculture not only feeds Africa, but promotes inclusive growth and livelihood generation
Africa’s rapidly growing population presents a unique set of challenges as well as opportunities for the continent. If properly harnessed, the potential for economic development in the long term could be enormous.
Africa’s challenges are enormous but not insurmountable. There is therefore no need for despair. Solutions to enhance economic inclusivity abound through the low carbon pathway powered by clean energy of which the continent has in abundance though untapped. By making the right policy investments building institutions, capacity and technology, Africa can unleash its latent clean energy potential and leapfrog to being a global leader without adding a single tonne of planet warming gases while simultaneously creating income opportunities for millions of its citizens
Under the changing climate no stone need to be left unturned. A liberalized African commercial airspace and developed airports represent an authentic, relatively affordable under exploited route for enhancing transport connectivity in the region, growing domestic and international trade, including trade in agriculture and affordable transportation in the continent, thus contributing toward inclusive socio-economic development for Africa