Desertification is nothing new; in the 70ies in Europe the “Sahelisation” of Africa was gathering a lot of interest and controversy. 50 years later Desertification continues at a speedy rate and has increased with some new challenges.

Two-thirds of the African continent is desert or drylands. This land is vital for agriculture and food production, however nearly 75% of the land is estimated to be degraded to varying degrees. The region is affected by frequent and droughts, which have been particularly severe in recent years in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. Poverty and difficult socio-economic conditions are widespread, and as a result many people are dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods. For many African countries, fighting land degradation and desertification and mitigating the effects of drought are prerequisites for economic growth and social progress. Increasing sustainable land management and building resilience to drought in Africa can have profound positive impacts that reach from the local to the global level. Will COP21 address these challenges?

Among the many challenges is Population Growth.

Worldwide, the exploding human population has become a driving force of environmental change on many fronts and at an unprecedented scale. In Africa, a growing population and specific human activities are impacting the air, land, and water, as well as the plants and animals that also call the continent home. If you put in perspective what happen in Africa in the past 65 years clearly Africa’s land has been shrinking in terms of surface per capita. Africa has a surface of 30.2 million km2 (11.7 million sq mi) for a population of 1.1 billion in 2011 compared to 228 Million in 1950 and an expectation of 1.7Billion by 2050.

Population Displacement:

Africa is facing major internal population displacement. Africa’s population grew 2.32 per cent annually between 2000 and 2005—nearly double the global rate of 1.24 per cent per year according to the UN. Twenty of the 30 fastest growing countries in the world are located in Africa, including Liberia which has the highest annual growth rate of any country in the world at 4.8 per cent. The United Nations’ Population Division projects that Africa will have the fastest growth rate in the world between 2000 and 2050, twice the rate of any other region during that time. Sub-Saharan Africa is also rapidly urbanizing and is expected to sustain the highest rate of urban growth in the world for several decades, a potential “El dorado” for infrastructure & various construction projects. This explains why powerful countries are positioning themselves, i.e. President XI visiting the continent just after COP21.

Agricultural Challenges:

With more people to feed, Africa must devote more land to agriculture. However, increasing agricultural lands means decreasing forests and other types of land cover, and reducing or eliminating natural habitats and their resources. In some cases, increased human impact has caused serious environmental damage in Africa. For example, the loss of West Africa’s rain forests and their associated goods and services has contributed to social unrest and exacerbated poverty across the region.
More than 60 per cent of Africa’s population was still living in rural areas in 2005. But Africa has the fastest urban growth rate in the world. This trend is mainly due to people migrating from rural communities to cities—especially young adults looking for work—as well as high urban birth rates
Cities and towns, growing at twice the rate of the rural population, are expected to add 400 million people to Africa’s urban population over the next 25 years. By 2025, more than half of Africa’s population will live in urban areas. This is a major change in Africa social complex structure and it will start to create some major environmental unbalance that need to be considered.

About 2.7 per cent of Africa’s population lives within 100 km of the coast. Since the 1980s, coastal urban areas have been growing by four per cent a year or more. Poorly planned and managed coastal cities, the lack of adequate sanitation treatment, as well as pollution from land-based activities such as agriculture and industry, threaten human health and the quality of habitat for fish and other marine life Human-induced activities such as construction, dredging and mining for sand, and harvesting corals have led to severe problems of coastal erosion. The Niger River Delta is losing 400 hectares of land a year to erosion.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects that toward the end of the 21st century, climate change will have caused sea-level rises that will affect Africa’s highly populated low-lying coastal areas. Adaptation costs could be significant.
Will COP21 consider the challenges opened by Africa agriculture that impact the livelihood of so many who are currently being themselves impacted by major environmental challenges originated by the rest of the world?

Assisting the African continent should be really on to top of the agenda for COP21. History has shown us that Pollution comes with Industrialization and growth.
Let’s learn from our history and bring new Cleantech energy and alternative technology to Africa to avoid all the errors made in the past by the Western countries and several of the BRIC countries.

It would be helpful to the entire planet.


Libra6 Management, Corp invests in Cleantech and alternative materials. Management has knowledge of Africa economics through the work of the Scheer Foundation.