Several scientific studies and opinions describe Africa as the region most vulnerable to climate change. Indeed, the very nature of many African societies depends on climate-related factors.
Rainfall and droughts affect agricultural production while poverty limits the continent's capacity for adaptation or mitigation; all of which lead to a more fragile starting baseline.
However, the continent is responsible for only three percent of global carbon emissions; tangible proof of its under-industrialisation.
Yet, despite Africa’s pressing need for growth and development, many of its countries have eagerly joined the global decarbonisation movement. Indeed many African countries should be commended for their efforts to reduce their national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change under the Paris Agreement.
Although the dilemma of decarbonising Africa is not as difficult as it sounds, since it is seen increasingly as an opportunity, rather than a hindrance to growth.
Being behind in terms of industrialisation would allow these countries to develop green industries more rapidly, without having to compensate for overstretched, aging industrial capital.
“Africa’s “late mover” advantage is reinforced by the abundance of sun, wind, and unexploited land, all enhanced by an increasingly ambitious young generation thriving for change”
Africa’s “late mover” advantage is reinforced by the abundance of sun, wind, and unexploited land, all enhanced by an increasingly ambitious young generation thriving for change.
Africa presents a sound solution to Europe’s decarbonisation woes, providing a unique answer to the EU’s 2050 zero carbon target.
Europe wants to accelerate the world’s green transition by putting in place its Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. Although the system is driven by a sense of responsibility for the future of the planet, and not a seemingly latent need for protectionism, this approach will certainly have systemic effects on the stakeholders upstream in the supply chain.
Besides, Europe plans to subsidise its green industries to allow them to flourish and lower their costs closer to become economic viable. Nevertheless, the additional cost generated by the adjustment mechanism will most likely be transferred overseas, for example to African farmers or smallholders.
We can then expect, at least in the near future, that this additional barrier to entry imposed by Europe will affect local value creation and reduce locally manufactured goods, in favour of supplying raw material resources to Europe.
According to many European sources, revenues from the EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism also intend to help finance the green transition in Africa. However, a ‘case studies’ approach cannot provide a lasting, sustainable, and economically viable solution for the planet.
“It is not about offering aid to Africa, but rather of exploring, together, potential partnership opportunities”
All stakeholders, from both sides of the Mediterranean would benefit from working together to resolve the carbon neutrality equation.
This would provide Europe with a reliable opportunity for its much-needed subsidies in support of its green industries, in partnership with African countries, relying on Africa’s abundant resources.
It is therefore not about offering aid to Africa, but rather of exploring, together, potential partnership opportunities.
Decarbonisation is the future of Africa and Europe at the same time, under different, but complementary perspectives. Protecting the planet is ultimately everyone's responsibility.
Not far from Europe is Morocco, an African country ranked fourth on the world’s 2021 Climate Change Performance Index ranking after Sweden, the UK and Denmark.
The country is home to the world's largest concentrated solar power plant, Morocco also hosts the largest producer of phosphate fertilisers, a company that has committed to carbon neutrality by 2040.
Morocco is then a perfect partner for Europe to collaborate with on an ‘extended version’ of the Green Deal.