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What drives instability in Africa and what can be done about it

Africa will remain turbulent because it is poor and young, but also because it is growing and dynamic. Development is disruptive but also presents huge opportunities. The continent needs to plan accordingly.

Levels of armed conflict in Africa rise and fall. Data from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, the Global Terrorism Database and others indicate that armed conflict peaked in 1990/91 at the end of the Cold War, declined to 2005/6, remained relative stable to 2010/11 and then increased to 2015, although it peaked at lower levels than in 1990/91 before its most recent decline.

Armed conflict has changed. Today there are many more non-state actors involved in armed conflict in Africa – representing a greater fracturing of armed groupings. So it’s not a matter of “government vs an armed group” but a “government vs many armed groups”. Insurgents are often divided and sometimes even fighting amongst themselves. This greater fragmentation complicates peacemaking.

Terrorism has also increased, but depending on how one defines it, it has always been widely prevalent in Africa both as a tactic to secure decolonisation as well as between and among competing armed groups. The big question for 2017 is: is violent political extremism going to move from the Middle East to Africa? Put another way, is it in Africa that Al Qaeda and the Islamic State will find solid footage as they are displaced from the Middle East?

Anti government turbulence has also increased in recent years. In Africa, this has led to disaffection and violence around elections that are often rigged rather than free and fair. Generally this is because governance in many African countries present a facade of democracy but don’t yet reflect substantive democracy.

Seven relationships lie behind patterns of violence on the continent, and provide insights into whether it can be managed better.

Relationships explaining violence

Poverty

Internal armed conflict is much more prevalent in poor countries than in rich ones. This is not because poor people are violent but because poor states lack the ability to ensure law and order. The impact of poverty is exacerbated by inequality, such as in South Africa.

Updated forecasts using the International Futures forecasting system indicate that around 37% of Africans live in extreme poverty (roughly 460 million people).

By 2030, 32% of Africans (forecast at 548 million) are likely to live in extreme poverty. So, while the portion is coming down (around 5% less), the absolute numbers will likely increase by around 90 million. It’s therefore unlikely that Africa will meet the first of the Sustainable Development Goals on ending absolute poverty on a current growth path of roughly 4% GDP growth per annum.

Democratisation

Democratisation can trigger violence in the short to medium term, particularly around elections. Recent events in Kenya are an example. Where there is a large democratic deficit, as in North Africa before the Arab spring, tension builds up and can explode.

And a democratic deficit – where levels of democracy are below what can be expected when compared to other countries at similar levels of income and education – often leads to instability.

Instability is also fuelled by the manipulation of elections and constitutions by heads of state to extend their stay in power. Examples include Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) and Uganda.

Regime type

The nature of the governing regime is another structural factor. Most stable countries are either full democracies or full autocracies. But most African countries have mixed regimes with some elements of democracy mixed with strong autocratic features. They present a façade of democracy but lack its substantive elements. Mixed regimes are inherently more unstable and prone to disruptions than either full democracies or full autocracies.

Population structure

Africa’s population is young, with a median age of 19. By comparison, the median age is 41 in France (a relatively young country by European standards). So 22% of adult French are in the youth bulge of 15-29 years compared to 47% of Africans.

Young countries tend to be more turbulent because young men are largely responsible for violence and crime. If young people lack jobs and rates of urbanisation are high, social exclusion and instability follow.

Repeat violence

A history of violence is generally the best predictor of future violence. Countries such as MaliCentral African Republic and the DRC are trapped in cycles of violence. This is very difficult to break. It requires a huge effort and is very expensive, often requiring a large, multi-dimensional peace mission that only the UN can provide. But, scaling peacekeeping back rather than scaling it up is the order of the day at the UN.

A bad neighbourhood

Where a country is located can increase the risk of violence because borders are not controlled and rural areas not policed. Most conflict in Africa is supported from neighbouring countries. Violence spills over national borders and affects other countries while poorly trained and equipped law and order institutions generally cannot operate regionally.

Slow growth and rising inequality

Africa is quite unequal, so growth does not translate into poverty reduction. In addition, the world is in a low growth environment after the 2007/8 global financial crisis, with average rates of growth significantly lower than before. Africa needs to grow at average rates of 7% or more a year if it is to reduce poverty and create jobs, yet current long term forecasts are for rates significantly below that.

Opportunity amid challenges

These seven related factors indicate that the notion that Africa can somehow “silence the guns by 2020”, as advocated by the African Union as part of its Agenda 2063 is unrealistic. Violence will remain a characteristic of a number of African countries for many years to come and Africa should plan accordingly.

In the long term only rapid, inclusive economic growth combined with good governance can chip away at the structural drivers of violence. It is also clear that middle income countries are making progress in attracting foreign direct investment but that poor countries will remain aid dependent.

The ConversationMuch more international and regional cooperation will be required as part of this process, including substantive and scaled up support for peacekeeping.

– Jakkie Cilliers is Chair of the Board of Trustees and Head of African Futures & Innovation at the Institute for Security Studies and Extraordinary Professor in the Centre of Human Rights at the University of Pretoria.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Source: news24

Africa: Mindset Change Key to Africa’s Prosperity

It is no secret that Africa is rich in minerals and other natural resources, resources that have been commercially exploited for centuries. Africa ranks first or second in the world’s global reserves in bauxite, cobalt, coltan, phosphate rock, platinum, vermiculite, manganese, soda ash and zirconium. The continent also has most other minerals and precious metals.

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The continent also accounts for three-quarters of the world’s platinum supply. Half of the world’s diamonds and chromium comes from the continent, which also accounts for one-fifth of global gold and uranium supplies. Africa is also home to at least 33 countries with oil and gas. With recent discoveries, its importance as producer of iron ore is growing.

Although expenditure on exploration has grown dramatically over the last decade, the continent remains amongst the least explored regions of the world. Despite these riches and potentials, the continent’s people are amongst the poorest in the world and the continent has some of the most glaring inequalities.

This paradox of rich Africa, poor Africans is best characterised by the systematic inconsistency between a continent with a young, growing and fast urbanising population, rich natural resources and productive land with the most diverse flora and fauna, and yet the countries that make up the continent are in the majority of the least developed economies in the world.

We have the collective responsibility to reverse this paradox. Lessons from some of the most developed medium and large economies in the world show that most of these economies grew through the utilisation of resources, even though most of those countries do not have the resources locally. But they used these resources. One can therefore draw another paradox that has favoured the most developed economies.

This paradox sees rich countries not having the resources but recording exceptional economic progress. This second paradox is largely driven by the exploitation of the developing world, including Africa. The paradox is also driven by the aid dependency discourse which often sees some of our ministers of finance discussing aid for breakfast, lunch and dinner, despite the fact that fuel and mineral exports from Africa are more than seven times the value of aid.

We know no country that has ever developed through aid. Our development ought to be informed by what is in our possession and comparative advantage — in our case our riches lie in our abundant resources which include (1) human resources, which sees the continent having the world’s youngest population, (2) renewable resources, which include water, forests, oceans, fauna, flora, diverse ecosystems and sunshine, and (3) non-renewables, which include our mineral, gas, coal and oil resources.

Africa’s abundant resources should be used to spur on our industrialisation, economic modernisation and diversification towards an integrated and peaceful Africa with shared prosperity. In order to meet this objective we must address the factors that have perpetuated the paradox of a rich Africa, poor Africans by consistently and constantly changing the mind- set.

In order to change mindsets and receive better benefits from our resources we must strengthen our knowledge on the resources available to us by (amongst others) strengthening our mapping systems so that we can explore our own resources in a more sustainable manner.

We must change the mindsets so that we may move away from the current corrupt and rent seeking tendencies. This would ensure that we negotiate contracts that put African interests first and create sustainable linkages with local economies. The mindset change must increase the value add to our natural resources from 15 percent to at least 30 percent or more so that we can create jobs for millions of Africans who are currently excluded from the economy. In the end this will ensure that we cease to be a net exporter of raw materials.

We will ensure that we stop exporting jobs due to not processing our raw materials thus securing for us better economic opportunities and revenue generation. Every time we export raw material — we export jobs The changing of mindsets will require strong institutions and management, which will strengthen our strategies and facilitate for cohesive policies and implementation.

In this regard, we have also mooted an African Minerals Development Centre that will provide a framework for countries to negotiate better terms and contracts.

This centre will also complement our Commodity Strategy. Through strengthened institutions we will also ensure that we improve the picture in relation to domestic savings, resource mobilisation, tax collection and the patterns of ownership in the sector.

These strong institutions will assist in reversing illicit financial flows. Ultimately all these actions will improve the position of the fiscal base of African countries whilst facilitating for a more equitable redistribution of wealth and securing a better quality life for all Africans.

It is for these reasons that we developed and are implementing our 50-year vision for the Africa we want, through Agenda 2063. As an overarching development framework, it seeks to focus on developing much needed skills so Africans can take charge of their own resources, and use them to industrialise our econ- omies.

This will require that we provide energy to mines, industries, homes, farms, cities, businesses and rural areas. Through Agenda 2063 we will also connect Africans through ICT and transport networks; and we will improve the beneficiation and value addition to our natural resources.

More specifically, Agenda 2063 urges us to accelerate the implementation of the African Mining Vision, which advocates for “transparent, equitable and optimal exploration of mineral resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development”.

As Dr Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, wrote in his blog: At the core of the African Mining Vision is the realisation that Africa’s mineral resources can be better utilised to address the continent’s social and economic needs; the focus on environmental and social sustainability, the advantages of regional and international integration with attendant hard and soft infrastructure challenges, the emphasis of building of backward, forward and sideward linkages from the core mining sector and equitable principles of fairness in benefit sharing and use of resource revenues.

The business that small-scale miners are in can and must therefore contribute towards the realisation of these aspirations, most specifically in the following areas:

(1) The development of a critical mass of relevant African skills in the sector, the geologists, geophysicists and engineers so essential to small-scale mining, but also towards all skills necessary not only for exploration, but production and value addition.

(2) Linking the development of mining to the development of infrastructure. The classical picture of mining in Africa is that of a small island of efficiency (with water electricity, transport linkages) whilst communities around them are in the dark (no schools, no transport).

In addition, the transport and other infrastructure it develop, are aimed at taking whatever its mines, out of the continent by the quickest possible route. We must move away from this model, and ensure that there are the backward and forward linkages to the local and regional economies.

(3) The mining sector counts amongst those responsible for the illicit financial flows from the continent. You are in the sector and can help us to stem this tide of capital needed for developing the continent;

(4) Last, but not least, the need to also focus on the link to beneficiation of all the resources we are currently exporting.

Within Agenda 2063, we are also paying particular attention to Africa’s blue economy. Within this, deep-sea exploration is of course one component.

Why now?

Today, We have a window of opportunity, where a number of economic, social and political factors have coincided and cohere in our favour. We cannot expect to do the very same things over and over again and expect different results. We cannot afford to continue on the same path, which has treated our resource heritage inappropriately and without a common purpose or vision. We must instil a mind-set change away from the misuse of our resources towards seeking benefits for all our people: the poor and marginalized majority.

We must use these resources to the benefit of our countries, these resources must not only benefit the companies where the countries come from as these resources are our common heritage they are ours we must have a win-win situation. We must use these resources towards a shared prosperity and inclusive development, as shown by the example of the “so called” Asian Tigers.

*Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is the Chairperson of the AU Commission.- African Executive

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Climate-Proofing Agriculture Must Take Centre Stage in African Policy

KIGALI, Rwanda, Jun 14 2016 (IPS) – After over a year of extreme weather changes across the world, causing destruction to homes and lives, 2015-16 El Niño has now come to an end.

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This recent El Niño – probably the strongest on record along with the along with those in 1997-1998 and 1982-83– has yet again shown us just how vulnerable we, let alone the poorest of the poor, are to dramatic changes in the climate and other extreme weather events.

Across southern Africa El Niño has led to the extreme drought affecting this year’s crop. Worst affected by poor rains are Malawi, where almost three million people are facing hunger, and Madagascar and Zimbabwe, where last year’s harvest was reduced by half compared to the previous year because of substantial crop failure.

However, El Niño is not the only manifestation of climate change. Mean temperatures across Africa are expected to rise faster than the global average, possibly reaching as high as 3°C to 6°C greater than pre-industrial levels, and rainfall will change, almost invariably for the worst.

In the face of this, African governments are under more pressure than ever to boost productivity and accelerate growth in order to meet the food demands of a rapidly expanding population and a growing middle class. To achieve this exact challenge, African Union nations signed the Malabo Declaration in 2014, committing themselves to double agricultural productivity and end hunger by 2025.

However, according to a new briefing paper out today from the Montpellier Panel, the agricultural growth and food security goals as set out by the Malabo Declaration have underemphasised the risk that climate change will pose to food and nutrition security and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. The Montpellier Panel concludes that food security and agricultural development policies in Africa will fail if they are not climate-smart.

Smallholder farmers will require more support than ever to withstand the challenges and threats posed by climate change while at the same time enabling them to continue to improve their livelihoods and help achieve an agricultural transformation. In this process it will be important that governments do not fail to mainstream smallholder resilience across their policies and strategies, to ensure that agriculture continues to thrive, despite the increasing number and intensity of droughts, heat waves or flash floods.

The Montpellier Panel argues that climate-smart agriculture, which serves the triple purpose of increasing production, adapting to climate change and reducing agriculture-related greenhouse gas emissions, needs to be integrated into countries’ National Agriculture Investment Plans and become a more explicit part of the implementation of the Malabo Declaration.

Across Africa we are starting to see signs of progress to remove some of the barriers to implementing successful climate change strategies at national and local levels.  These projects and agriculture interventions are scalable and provide important lessons for strengthening political leadership, triggering technological innovations, improving risk mitigation and above all building the capacity of a next generation of agricultural scientists, farmers and agriculture entrepreneurs. The Montpellier Panel has outlined several strategies that have shown particular success.

Building a Knowledge Economy

A “knowledge economy” improves the scientific capacities of both individuals and institutions, supported by financial incentives and better infrastructure. A good example is the “Global Change System Analysis, Research and Training” (START) programme, that promotes research-driven capacity building to advance knowledge on global environmental change across 26 countries in Africa.

START provides research grants and fellowships, facilitates multi-stakeholder dialogues and develops curricula. This opens up opportunities for scientists and development professionals, young people and policy makers to enhance their understanding of the threats posed by climate change.

Sustainably intensifying agriculture

Agriculture production that will simultaneously improve food security and natural resources such as soil and water quality will be key for African countries to achieve the goal of doubling agriculture productivity by 2025. Adoption of Sustainable Intensification (SI) practices in combination has the potential to increase agricultural production while improving soil fertility, reducing GHG emissions and environmental degradation and making smallholders more resilient to climate change or other weather stresses and shocks.

Drip irrigation technologies such as bucket drip kits help deliver water to crops effectively with far less effort than hand-watering and for a minimal cost compared to irrigation. In Kenya, through the support of the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute, the use of the drip kit is spreading rapidly and farmers reported profits of US$80-200 with a single bucket kit, depending on the type of vegetable.

Providing climate information services

Risk mitigation tools, such as providing reliable climate information services, insurance policies that pay out to farmers following extreme climate events and social safety net programmes that pay vulnerable households to contribute to public works can boost community resilience. Since 2011 the CGIAR’s Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), the Senegalese National Meteorological Agency and the the Union des Radios Associatives et Communautaires du Sénégal, an association of 82 community-based radio stations, have been collaborating to develop climate information services that benefit smallholder farmers.

A pilot project was implemented in Kaffrine and by 2015, the project had scaled-up to the rest of the country. Four different types of CI form the basis of advice provided to farmers through SMS and radio: seasonal, 10-day, daily and instant weather forecasts, that allow farmers to adjust their farming practices. In 2014, over 740,000 farm households across Senegal benefitted from these services.

Now is the time to act

While international and continental processes such as the Sustainable Development Goals, COP21 and the Malabo Declaration are crucial for aligning core development objectives and goals, there is often a disconnect between the levels of commitment and implementation on the ground. Now is an opportune time to act. Governments inevitably have many concurrent and often conflicting commitments and hence require clear goals that chart a way forward to deliver on the Malabo Declaration.

The 15 success stories discussed in the Montpellier Panel’s briefing paper highlight just some examples that help Africa’s agriculture thrive. As the backbone of African economies, accounting for as much as 40% of total export earnings and employing 60 – 90% of the labour force, agriculture is the sector that will accelerate growth and transform Africa’s economies.

With the targets of the Malabo Declaration aimed at 2025 – five years before the SDGs – Africa can now seize the moment and lead the way on the shared agenda of sustainable agricultural development and green economic growth.

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Entrepreneurship support is pivotal to Africa’s economic growth

WITH most African countries diversifying from traditional sources of income, entrepreneurship is increasingly seen as a key to economic growth. So far, it has yielded huge returns for entrepreneurs, and experts say there is great untapped potential to drive the African continent into its next phase of development.

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A June 2015 study by UK-based Approved Index ranked African countries among those at the top of the entrepreneurship charts.

The Entrepreneurship around the World report listed Uganda, Angola, Cameroon, and Botswana among the top 10 countries.

The group regards entrepreneurship as a “necessity”, saying in its report: “When unemployment is high and the economy is weaker, people are forced to start small businesses to provide for themselves and their families.”

Today, entrepreneurship is seen as one of the most sustainable job-generation tools in Africa.

A 2013 study by Brookings Institution, a Washington DC-based think-tank, found that African youth (15-24 years) constitute about 37% of the working-age population.

At the Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in Nairobi in 2015, and attended by US President Barack Obama, entrepreneurs from more than 100 countries and a group of US investors discussed the role entrepreneurs could play to tackle youth unemployment in Africa.

According to Evans Wadongo, listed by Forbes Africa as one of the most promising young African entrepreneurs, many African governments have not been keen on developing policies to deal with youth unemployment.

“Governments are not doing enough. The private sector is trying, but most goods brought into the African market are from China. This denies the youth much-needed manufacturing jobs, which are more labour intensive,” he says.

Kenya’s cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Industrialisation and Enterprise Development, Adan Mohammed, however, defends the policies of most African governments, saying that their efforts have been spurring confidence in the continent, and are enabling more young people to turn towards entrepreneurship.

“Success breeds success — as many entrepreneurs make headway, others get on board. Also, technology-based inventions are pulling entrepreneurs,” he says.

Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda says his government’s efforts to promote entrepreneurial culture have produced “remarkable results”. For instance, the state-run Youth Venture Capital Fund trains and provides money to young people with good business ideas. Most importantly, with youth comprising more than 75% of its population, and 83% of its unemployed, Uganda has remodelled its education system to include entrepreneurship as one of the subjects in secondary schools and colleges.

With the help of the private sector and development agencies, the Ugandan government has established information, communication, and technology innovation hubs that help entrepreneurs to launch start-ups.

Lack of access to working capital has hampered entrepreneurship in Kenya. Even though the government has created the Youth Enterprise Development Fund and Uwezo Fund to support youth entrepreneurship, budgetary constraints limit their effects.

Andrew Wujung, an economics lecturer at the University of Bamenda in Cameroon, attributes the country’s entrepreneurship effort to its unique poverty-reduction strategy. Unlike other countries in Africa, Cameroon’s poverty-alleviation strategy is linked to entrepreneurship.

The government is organising robust skills-acquisition and training programmes for entrepreneurs, and making credit facilities easily accessible to people with innovative technological and business ideas.

For entrepreneurship to boost Africa’s economy, governments must tackle some of the greatest challenges that impede its progress, including lack of funds, mentorship, and poor government policies.

African governments should consider giving the private sector incentives to create more jobs through tax relief. Laws and regulations should favour entrepreneurs, and effective strategies and policies are required to create more employment within small and medium enterprises.

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Africa: The role of infrastructure in shaping our future

The numbers are looking good. Investment by value of mega-projects under construction grew by 46.2% in 2014, and Africa is expected to host nearly a quarter of the global urban population by 2050 – proof that the continent continues to present foreign investors and development companies with many inviting opportunities.

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However, converting these into sustainable solutions that meet Africa’s needs will require a different philosophy and a new long-term approach from many players, according to Darryll Castle, chief executive of PPC.

He was speaking at a Gordon Institute of Business Science Forum event. In order to deliver on the continent’s vision of “sustainable success”, companies cannot simply adopt a “final frontier” philosophy and expand into the continent accordingly. They have to take both a macro and micro view – redefining return on investment such that it affects all stakeholder communities positively, he said.

As rising income and increasing levels of urbanisation continue to support economic growth across large portions of Africa, construction companies in emerging markets look set to grow well into the medium term.

“Investment by value of mega-projects under construction alone tripled from $103 billion (about R1.6 billion) to $326 billion in 2014 [according to Deloitte’s African Construction Trends Report 2014],” noted Castle.

“The latest Mo Ibrahim Foundation Report additionally forecasts that the next 35 years will see the continent accommodate 900 million new urban dwellers. Both of these paint an enticing picture for foreign investors, developers and construction firms – one which many have already started gearing to respond to.”

Expanding into Africa brings its own unique set of opportunities and challenges. It also moves continental “newcomers” into a development space – where a business as usual approach cannot meet non-negotiable growth and sustainability imperatives.

“Dumping building products cheaply, extracting resources without local beneficiation or any other form of business that is purely profit-oriented cannot be construed as ‘good for Africa’, especially against the back of the continent’s critical needs: reducing the cost of energy and mobility, job creation for youth and women as a priority, and growing manufacturing capabilities and intra-Africa trade, among others,” said Castle.

“As such, a far more long-term and legacy view of return on investment has to be taken – with the starting point for this exercise being to map out an inclusive list of project stakeholders.”

Government and local investors usually fall comfortably into the stakeholder category, but Castle said that many African-expansion exercises often excluded local communities and employees as key shareholders in the business.

“This typically manifests through imported labour [which does not unionise] and a lack of local succession planning – where the more ‘valuable’ skilled jobs remain reserved for foreign nationals ostensibly because the skills are not locally available. This effectively erodes and inhibits progress and development, exacerbating the cycles of poverty and economic exclusion that many local communities already find themselves in.”

He added that the alternative – an inclusive and participatory form of partnership – can, however, have the complete opposite effect.

“This is something we’ve seen ourselves through PPC’s expansion into Rwanda at our Cimerwa facility [in Bugarama in south-western Rwanda]. In this instance, we set a greater context for the partnership – notably that of ‘sustainable modernisation’.”

This enabled committed collaboration between all stakeholders: PPC and the Rwandan government, the Bank of Kigali, KCB Bank of Rwanda, the Eastern and Southern African Trade Development Bank, the local community, and up and downstream partners (including logistics providers) in the greater value chain.

“By setting critical milestones together and taking a purpose-driven approach, we have been able to roll the project out in a way that ultimately speaks to our collective legacy objectives,” said Castle.

These include extending Cimerwa’s production capacity from its previous 100 000 tons a year to 600 000 tons to meet the capacity needs of the Rwandan market and greater region, and implementing an extensive skills transfer programme that will ensure that over 95% of the total workforce employed at the new facility will ultimately be local.

“Investing in Africa requires ‘building’ Africa,” said Castle.

“To truly ‘build’ Africa, companies have to move beyond simply growing their asset base to creating meaningful capacity around them that will ensure communities remain self-sufficient well into the future. This is critical if we’re to realise the continent’s economic potential and uplift local communities so as to stimulate greater collaboration, growth and sustainable development for all of Africa’s peoples,” he concluded.

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Climate change puts 1.3bn people and $158tn at risk, says World Bank

Organisation urges better city planning and defensive measures to defend against rapid rise in climate change-linked disasters.

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The global community is badly prepared for a rapid increase in climate change-related natural disasters that by 2050 will put 1.3 billion people at risk, according to the World Bank.

Urging better planning of cities before it was too late, a report published on Monday from a Bank-run body that focuses on disaster mitigation, said assets worth $158tn – double the total annual output of the global economy – would be in jeopardy by 2050 without preventative action.

The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery said total damages from disasters had ballooned in recent decades but warned that worse could be in store as a result of a combination of global warming, an expanding population and the vulnerability of people crammed into slums in low-lying, fast-growing cities that are already overcrowded.

“With climate change and rising numbers of people in urban areas rapidly driving up future risks, there’s a real danger the world is woefully unprepared for what lies ahead,” said John Roome, the World Bank Group’s senior director for climate change.

“Unless we change our approach to future planning for cities and coastal areas that takes into account potential disasters, we run the real risk of locking in decisions that will lead to drastic increases in future losses.”

The facility’s report cited case studies showing that densely populated coastal cities are sinking at a time when sea levels are rising. It added that the annual cost of natural disasters in 136 coastal cities could increase from $6bn in 2010 to $1tn in 2070.

The report said that the number of deaths and the monetary losses from natural disasters varied from year to year, but the upward trend was pronounced.

Total annual damage – averaged over a 10-year period – had risen tenfold from 1976–1985 to 2005–2014, from $14bn to more than $140bn. The average number of people affected each year had risen over the same period from around 60 million people to more than 170 million.

Although developed countries have been responsible for the bulk of historic global emissions, poorer countries are more vulnerable to the impact of climate change and they demanded financial help from the west as part of last December’s breakthrough global deal to reduce emissions.

Oxfam this week called on rich countries to make good on the pledges made at the Paris conference to provide the funding to help developing countries adapt to the effects of global warming.

“Climate change is a brutal reality confronting millions of the world’s most vulnerable people. Their need for financial support to adapt to climate extremes is urgent and rising,” Oxfam said in its Unfinished Business report.

“International support for adaptation falls well short of what is needed. Latest estimates indicate that only 16% of international climate finance is currently dedicated to adaptation – a mere $4bn–$6bn per year of which is public finance.”

According to the the facility, disaster risk is affected by three factors. It said these were: hazard – the frequency of potentially dangerous naturally occurring events, such as earthquakes or tropical cyclones; exposure – the size of the population and the economic assets located in hazard-prone areas; and vulnerability – the susceptibility of the exposed elements to the natural hazard.

It added that hazard was increasing due to climate change; exposure was going up because more people were living in hazardous areas and that vulnerability was on the rise because of badly designed and poorly planned housing.

The World Bank-run body said the population was expected to rise by at least 40% in 14 of the 20 most populated cities in the world between 2015 and 2030, with some cities growing by 10 million people in that period. “Many of the largest cities are located in deltas and are highly prone to floods and other hazards, and as these cities grow, an ever greater number of people and more assets are at risk of disaster.”

Francis Ghesquiere, head of the secretariat at the The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, said: “By promoting policies that reduce risk and avoiding actions to drive up risk, we can positively influence the risk environment of the future. The drivers of future risk are within the control of decision makers today. They must seize the moment.”

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African Potash to continue exploration in Congo

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Although it has, over the past year, worked to become a vertically integrated fertiliser business with an initial focus on trading and distribution, Aim-listed African Potash retains its interest in the exploration side of the fertiliser industry. Through its 70% interest in La Société des Potasses et des Mines, it held the right to conduct exploration activities for potash salts over the 702.5 km2 Lac Dinga project area in the highly prospective Kouilou region of the Republic of Congo. Although the initial three-year licence period had expired in December 2015 a renewal application had been filed and approval was expected to be granted in the coming months. While the project was still at an early stage of exploration, work conducted to date had returned encouraging results regarding the potential of the project area hosting significant potash deposits, with mineralisation characteristic of similar commercial deposits in the Congolese coastal basin.

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African Potash, meanwhile, said its transition into a revenue generative business with a captive, domestic and growing market for its product had been implemented after taking heed of investors’ attitudes towards the traditional, and often time-consuming model of resource companies, with initial exploration followed by lengthy development phases, construction and eventually production, with numerous equity raisings and dilution underpinning these growth and development stages.

“To mitigate the downside risk associated with resource development and to provide our shareholders with near-term value in the form of revenue, African Potash adopted a new approach to building a vertically integrated fertiliser business, focussing initially on trading and distribution,” said executive chairperson Chris Cleverly said on Tuesday.

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African Potash had signed a landmark trading agreement with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) to supply and deliver fertilisers to offtakers identified and introduced by Comesa.  African Potash added that it continued to implement its strategy to deliver near-term value through development of a vertical platform for the mining, production and distribution of fertiliser. “The size and scope of the developing agricultural sector in Africa is an area of overwhelming potential – forecasts suggest that the population of Africa will double to 2.4-billion between now and 2050,” said Cleverly.

He added that fertiliser contributed to 40% to 60% of global food supply.

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Source: engineeringnews


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Africa’s agriculture needs young blood, says report

Modernising Africa’s agriculture sector to attract young people will help tackle youth unemployment and food insecurity, a report has suggested.

The findings were outlined in the 2015 African Agriculture Status Report.

Despite the dominance of agriculture in many economies, outdated land-tenure systems and poor access to finance deter new entrants to farming, it said.

The call for action was presented at the African Green Revolution Forum, which is being held in Zambia.

The report, produced by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra), warns that the continent will not solve its chronic food shortages or worrying unemployment levels among its youth without wholesale changes.

In 2015, the African Union issued a declaration to double food productivity and halve poverty by 2025.

Harvesting youth

The report’s co-ordinating editor, Agra’s head of strategy, monitoring and evaluation, David Sarfo Ameyaw, said the report highlighted a direct link between the rising level of unemployment among the under-25s and food security concerns.

But, he added, the two issues also presented a clear opportunity to deliver a solution.

“Channelling the energy, strength and dynamism of Africa’s youth into productive, competitive and profitable agribusinesses… will boost agricultural production systems, create jobs and generate incomes,” he said.

“The impact of youth involvement and participation in agriculture and food systems will be seen in sustainable economic growth and in the reduction of poverty and malnutrition across the continent.”

He told BBC News that studies had shown that a 1% increase in GDP from the agriculture sector reduces poverty five times as much as any other sector.

However, there were a number of long-standing barriers that prevented or deterred future generations of would-be agribusiness leaders.

One was the lack of access to land. “Africa has the highest area of arable land in the world but because of the limitation of our land-tenure systems and land policies, it is very difficult for the youth to access land,” Dr Sarfo Ameyaw explained.

“Africa, unlike other countries, does not have a viable land market. They are either traditionally or culturally owned.”

Another constraint was accessing finance facilities.

He observed: “The report points out that only about 25% of the young people in Africa have any form of access to finance, even things such as a bank account or credit card.”

He said that even if a young person identified some land, it was hard to find the finances to buy the land and made it very hard to get a foot on to the agriculture ladder.

Figures from the African Union Commission estimate that about 65% of Africa’s population is below the age of 35 years, with 10 million youths (15-35 year-olds) entering the workforce each year.

It is also estimated that agriculture provides 65% of the continent’s jobs. And as the world wakes up to the challenge it faces to feed a growing population that is forecast to exceed nine billion by the middle of this century, Africa holds up to 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land.

Dr Sarfo Ameyaw said, along with reforms to the barriers and constraints identified by the report, there was also a need to “rebrand” the image of farming and the opportunities for employment the sector offered.

“When you talk about agriculture in Africa, everyone is talking about the production aspect, being on the land,” he explained.

“But agriculture is about R&D, improved distribution, access to markets, improved technology, processing, retailing.

“So when we talk about agriculture to the youth, we should rebrand it so that it focuses not only on the production side but along the whole chain.”

Source: bbc


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