Commentary: Invest in Africa’s engineers to address the world’s climate crisis
In March 2019, tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall near the Mozambiquan port city of Beira, ravaging the coastline and inland communities. The United Nations estimated that Cyclone Idai and the flooding that followed it killed more than 600 people, injured an estimated 1,600 and affected more than 1.8 million people.
After more than $773 million of damage to buildings, infrastructure and crops there were also disastrous economic ramifications, with GDP growth cut to 2.3% from a forecast 6.6%. Elsewhere on the continent, climate change and shifting weather patterns are exacting a heavy toll. Lake Chad has shrunk 90% since the 1960s and Lake Victoria, home to the world’s largest tropical freshwater ecosystem, could all but vanish in the next 500 years.
Despite contributing just 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, African countries are amongst the hardest hit by the impacts of climate change, where temperatures have risen on average 1°C more than other parts of the world. And in the worst-case scenario, GDP could decline by 12.2% by the end of the century because of global warming. This has been met with a robust response. The governments on the continent are spending between 2 – 9% of GDP on climate adaptation and mitigation initiatives.
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