For a continent whose population is set to jump from the current estimated 1.4 billion to about 2.5 billion by 2050, unlocking its green business potential has become a rather pressing issue. And figures from a fresh report by the United Nations Environment Program, UNEP are there to prove.
The report released Thursday amid the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) taking place in Addis Ababa makes the case for the continent’s private sector to bolster its green agenda and drive GDP increase, higher income per capita, create tens of millions of jobs, and foster collaboration between governments, businesses, and local communities.
The report urges businesses to adopt a comprehensive approach that prioritizes profit, people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnerships.
Elizabeth Mrema, UNEP Deputy Executive Director, said: “This report shows that policymakers can create an enabling environment for investments that address the triple planetary crisis by adopting robust regulatory frameworks, investing in research, innovation, and education, as well as promoting public-private partnerships and fostering collaboration across governments, businesses and local communities.”
The report includes information on the potential for expansion across sectors, as well as a variety of success stories of current green ventures.
According to the report, a transition to sustainable agriculture which currently contributes about 17 per cent to sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP could unleash productivity, avoid food insecurity and at the same time minimize the negative impacts of agriculture on ecosystems and biodiversity loss.
For example, using digital technologies in agriculture might open a $1 trillion industry for providing food for the continent’s expanding population. By 2030, halting soil erosion could generate wealth amounting to US$62.4 billion annually, and restoring nature could release a $10 trillion market value and generate 395 million jobs.
The report also calls for the sustenance of the blue economy which is projected to generate US$576 billion and 127 million jobs by 2063. In addition, marine and coastal tourism presents tremendous opportunities for sustainable development in Africa, with potential value-added of over $100 billion by 2030.
The report adds that with its wealth of solar, wind, hydro, biomass, and geothermal resources, Africa can lead the way in developing renewable energy solutions and potentially boost GDP by 6.4% between 2021 and 2050. Ocean renewable energy also has the potential to supply between 100 and 400 percent of the world’s current energy demand, making it a significant untapped resource for Africa.
Lighting systems, intelligent buildings, and effective industrial processes are just a few examples of the goods and services that companies in the energy efficiency sector may offer.
The continent can also lead in the business of electric vehicles, solar PV cell technology and wind turbines given its enormous resources in such minerals as copper, graphite, lithium, molybdenum, nickel, zinc, bauxite, cobalt, manganese, and platinum, but these need to be handled responsibly.
And then, there is the circular economy that will generate wealth from waste, and that comes with rewards for the environment.