Foresight Africa 2020 report says Africa is playing a leading role in the fight against climate change, something that can provide opportunities for Africa to overcome its obstacles and spur inclusive growth.
At the end of this year, world leaders are expected to come forward with updated, more ambitious national climate plans under the Paris Agreement. Though buried deep within the legalese of the Paris Agreement, this point of process is both a critical test and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Research from the New Climate Economy shows that bold climate action could deliver at least $26 trillion in global economic benefits between now and 2030.
It could also generate over 65 million new low-carbon jobs by 2030, a number equivalent to the combined workforces of the United Kingdom and Egypt today: avoid over 700 000 premature deaths from air pollution compared with business-as-usual; and generate an estimated $2.8 trillion in government revenues in 2030 through subsidy reform and carbon pricing alone.
The report underlined that delivering the benefits of a new climate economy requires ambitious action across key economic systems, creating the conditions for the phase-out of coal and rapid scale-up of renewables in the energy sector; investing in shared, electric, and low-carbon transport in cities; scaling up sustainable food and land use systems; including forest landscape restoration; targeting investment to resilient water infrastructure; and reducing emissions from key industrial value chains, such as plastic.
However, if the world fails to step up climate action, continuing on current climate trajectory could force 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030. Africa, according to the report, is the most-exposed region to the adverse effects of climate change despite contributing the least to global warming. The region is already disproportionately feeling the impacts related to a changing climate.
Devastating cyclones affected 3 million people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe in the spring 2018. Gross Domestic Product GDP exposure in African nations vulnerable to extreme climate patterns is projected to grow from $895 billion in 2018 to about $1.4 trillion in 2023-nealry half of the continent’s GDP.
If fairness was the only goal, the report said, the impetus to act would lie solely with developed economies. Make no mistake; the big emitters absolutely must step up their domestic climate action, and quickly. But building the new climate economy is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that every African nation should prioritize and claim a stake in.
This opportunity is why, despite historically negligible carbon emissions, despite only accounting for 2 percent of world coal demand, and despite the lack of leadership from some developed countries, many African countries are now making serious efforts to transition towards low-carbon technologies, low-carbon and resilient infrastructure, and low-carbon tax systems.
In this report, Morocco is said to have built the world’s largest concentrated solar facility to help achieve the country’s goal of 52 percent renewable energy mix by 2030. The advanced 6,000-acre solar complex, Noor, serves as a clean energy source for around 2 million Moroccans, and provides pivotal job opportunities as the country transitions away from the fossil fuel industry. The solar complex is also offering training programs for women for entrepreneurial and agricultural activities and is recruiting women in decision-making roles to guide project activities.
Furthermore, the report noted that South Africa’s Carbon Act, which places specific levies on greenhouse gases from fuel combustion and industrial processes and emissions, came into effect in June 2019. By 2035, the carbon tax could reduce the country’s emissions by 33 percent relative to the baseline. Furthermore, South Africa’s recent renewable energy auctions have led to solar and wind prices lower than those of the national utility or from new coal plants. Often regarded as the continent’s clean energy trailblazer, much of what has been learned through South Africa’s renewable energy procurement process can influence similar developments across Africa.
Nigeria on the other hand, which struggles with electricity access for majority of its population, has set a renewable energy target of 30 percent by 2030. This goal underscores the potential for both grid-based and decentralized renewable energy investments to deliver energy access and climate change benefits simultaneously.
Notably, off-grid solutions that deliver electricity to thousands of households on the continent- and mini-grids are important options in both unserved rural areas and underserved urban areas. Natural resource-rich African countries, like Nigeria, should see renewables as a central part of achieving universal energy access while setting themselves on a pathway for low-carbon and resilient development, the report says.
While the private sector is driving the shift into renewables, state-owned enterprises SOE in the energy sector-in Africa and globally- are lagging behind. African governments, the report highlighted, need to support reform in the SOE sector by, for example, introducing competitive procurement for electricity supply. This strategy could open African institutions and markets to emerging opportunities in the renewable sector, and even drive down the prices of renewables.
With an abundance of solar, wind and geothermal resources, African countries already have a comparative advantage in renewables. The falling costs of green technologies provide a propitious moment to be on the delivery end of the new energy revolution. And while it may seem counterintuitive, Africa’s most oil- and gas-rich countries should be leading the energy revolution, the report said.
Beyond the energy sector, food and land use systems- including the agriculture and forestry sectors- are integral to sub-Saharan Africa’s economy, accounting for 70 percent of livelihoods and almost one-quarter of regional GDP. In fact, new business opportunities in sustainable food and land use systems could deliver $320 billion each year by 2030 across sub-Saharan Africa.
These opportunities, as indicated in the report, include $120 billion in forest ecosystem services and restoration of degraded land, $100 billion increased agricultural yields and $100 billion in supply chain efficiency improvements and enhanced value-adding capacity. Concerted landscape restoration efforts in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, for example, are enhancing farmers’ resilience, water availability, and livelihoods. Such sustainable food and land use approaches are said to deliver multiple co-benefits, from reducing rural poverty, to boosting food security and improving population health, to protecting and regenerating natural capital.
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.