January 14, 2014

Green Economy in Africa: Concerns and Way Forward

The green economy agenda promoted as part of the Rio+20 policy framework is indeed important to Africa for many reasons. With favorable national policies and institutions in place, the opportunities offered by a global green economy can enhance economic growth and contribute significantly to national environmental and development objectives. In fact, green economy may be a panacea to the major development challenges presently facing the continent in areas of climate change and poverty as there is a consensus that climate change represents the greatest threat to national and international efforts towards poverty reduction in Africa. Further benefits of green economy includes; provision of pathway to sustainable economic growth and employment creation, expansion of volume and value of exports from agriculture sector, and diversification of the African economies away from natural resources, among others. However, the extent to which African countries can successful transit to a green economy will depend on their level of human and capital investment, access to technologies, and institutional capacities.

The transition to a green economy is not hitch-free as it involves certain risks and costs that always accompany such paradigm shift. For instance, green economy will require outright changes in the production processes in developing economies away from the use of non-renewable and environmentally unfriendly resources to more sustainable ones, say replacing fossil fuel with renewable energy in power generation. Unfortunately, these economies have comparative disadvantages in terms of technical and human capital in the sectors that promote sustainable development. There are also other concerns on the likely tradeoff between national development plan and industrialization programs and the tenets of green economy, the effects on the tense North-South trade and the policies, global inequality and several other issues.

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