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Environment and people should be central to all development plans in Africa

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Africa’s fragile ecosystems and the environment should be top of mind when we talk about development across the continent. Image credit: Leon Louw for WhyAfrica

Environment and people should be central to all development plans in Africa

As the African continent continues developing, managing the environment and social impacts should be central to all our development plans.

By Leon Louw, owner of WhyAfrica and editor of the WhyAfrica magazine  

With a commodity super-cycle on the horizon, Africa is on the cusp of becoming a world class investment destination. As the African continent develops though, we should remember the past tragedies and learn from them. At the same time we should celebrate the many success stories, and embrace them.

Protecting, enhancing, and rehabilitating Africa’s fragile environment should guide all our development plans. Respect and honour should be the two words we pen down first when we write about, and communicate, with the continents indigenous people. Moreover, sustainability and longevity should be top of mind when we promote the continents great potential.

Empower local communities (Environment and people should be central to all development plans in Africa)

Africa’s best opportunities will be created by its innumerable challenges. As African economies continue expanding, the continent’s problems multiply. And problems need solutions. The major concern is the destruction of Africa’s unique environment and that a large part of Africa’s people will be left behind as development takes off.

Caution is therefore needed to ensure that communities are empowered, and that the environment is protected. There are glaring backlogs in road, rail and port infrastructure, and electricity and water provision is scant. To make things worse, politics and corruption continue to muddy the water. Economies are reeling, and the impact of Covid-19 and the crisis in Ukraine will be felt for a long time. Yet, there is hope.

The energy transition will require natural resources and so-called “green metals” that are abundant in Africa. Countries like Angola, Zambia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Zimbabwe, Botswana Namibia, Tanzania, Morocco, and Ghana (to name only a few), are rich in critical minerals like lithium, cobalt, copper, tin, tungsten, and nickel, while a small country like Malawi hosts good deposits of Rare Earth Elements (REEs) and uranium. All these critical minerals will be required in large volumes to satisfy the needs of a greener world economy.

However, to grow these African economies will require sufficient power generation, and therefore the energy sector will be critical for development in Africa. In the search for solutions the African energy sector is booming and currently presents great opportunities for new entrepreneurs and innovative technology.

The war between Russia and Ukraine has presented African countries with many challenges (several African nations are reliant on food imports from Russia and Ukraine) but also resulted in most countries backing their own agricultural abilities, while significant investments by international companies and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have unlocked the huge agricultural potential in Africa.

The dearth of fertiliser (also a result of the conflict in Ukraine) has prompted African countries to find solutions within their own borders and several new projects mining potassium and phosphorous have sprung up around the continent or are being developed. Africa has huge swaths of fertile land laying fallow, and this presents further opportunities for the entire agriculture value chain.

Africa central in global economy (Environment and people should be central to all development plans in Africa)

African optimists predict a future where Africa plays a central role in the global economy especially after the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) kicked into gear recently.

According to the World Bank, AfCFTA could bring 30 million people out of extreme poverty and raise the incomes of 68 million others who currently live on less than USD5.50 per day.

“With the implementation of AfCFTA, trade facilitation measures that cut red tape and simplify customs procedures would drive USD292-billion of the USD450-billion in potential income gains. Implementing the agreement would help usher in the deep reforms necessary to enhance long-term growth in African countries,” the World Bank states.

Africa plays a key role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, while countries like Russia, Turkey, the UK, France, the US, Japan, and Israel are strengthening their ties with several African countries.

While primary sectors like mining and agriculture will remain the backbone of Africa’s future growth; services, communication, and technology will create opportunities for young people (which are increasing exponentially) that their parents would never have dreamt of. Nevertheless, tourism and hospitality could be the magic wand Africa needs when the international travel industry finds its feet again after the devastation of the global pandemic.

On the back of these growth prospects companies looking to expand their footprint into Africa, should be aware of their environmental and social responsibilities. Not to tick boxes, but to make a real difference.

Make a real difference (Environment and people should be central to all development plans in Africa)

If you care deeply about Africa and the environment, but you realise the importance of development to improve the plight of her people, you share WhyAfrica’s passion. If you are curious about Africa and love travelling around the continent, we have something in common.

If you do business in Africa with the aim of improving the livelihood of her people, and to ensure the sustainability of her natural resources and wilderness areas, we share your vision and long-term goals.

If you accept the politics and risks of operating in Africa, and DO NOT look at Africa and her people through the lens of your own preconceptions or try to shape her politics and culture to your own liking and ideology, we share your values.

If you are passionate about Africa, follow WhyAfrica on our road trips through Africa, or become a member of our growing WhyAfrica community. WhyAfrica specialises in the sustainable utilisation of Africa’s natural resources in all its forms: water, sun, wind, oceans, wildlife, minerals, metals, timber farming and all other commodities.

To “utilise” these resources sustainably and to conserve our heritage effectively requires that we use specialised equipment, new technology, science and research, skilled and unskilled workers, indigenous knowledge and a range of other tools and processes. The methods of extraction and the infrastructure necessary to get the end-products to market, is a key aspect of our focus and research.

So, if you are interested in Africa and the sustainable utilisation its natural resources, or you have questions about Africa or doing business on the continent, follow us or give us a call. Africa is our business, and we want it to be yours too!

If your organisation already has a presence in Africa and ticks all the environmental, social and governance boxes, but you are not sure how to communicate it effective to your shareholders, employees, or other stakeholders, WhyAfrica would love to assist.

Promoting Africa as an investment destination and showcasing its vibrant business sector, is at the heart of what we do at WhyAfrica. At the same time, we evaluate successful environmental programmes, identify potential developments that makes a difference, and aim to tell the African story.

It’s WhyAfrica’s mission to promote the African continent, her diverse natural resources, her vibrant people, her innovative business sector, and her exceptional entrepreneurs.

At WhyAfrica we celebrate the vastness and the beauty of our continent by visiting African countries during our annual WhyAfrica Road Trip and promote those outstanding leaders, entrepreneurs, and exemplary companies at the heart of Africa’s growth.

Our readers and followers are mostly investors, high-level decision makers, international companies expanding into Africa, people with a general interest in Africa and those with a passion of working, travelling, and living in Africa.

Environment and people should be central to all development plans in Africa

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Environment and people should be central to all development plans in Africa

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AgricultureEnvironmental Management & Climate ChangeEnergyESGInfrastructureMiningPolitical EconomyTourism and ConservationWater Management