Don't expect Africa to take the lead on emissions - the West must show the way

open | 28 October, 2006

JOHANNESBURG. Africa has seen unprecedented growth driven by high commodity prices during the past few years. It is a growth that is fueled by the growth in China and analysts saying, over and over again like a mantra, that higher commodity prices are therefore here to stay.

If it is a continuous party, or if prices will drop as dramatically as they surged remains to be seen. For now the fact is that Africa, for the first time since their independences, has started to actually profit from its commodities and raw material – oil, gold, copper and diamonds are more sought after than ever.

Therefore, there is surplus money around – a fundamental necessity if an economy to grow.

With it there are new threats and fears. If Africa would follow the same path, as the Western world carbon monoxide emissions will increase drastically and increase the hothouse effect even more. Something that the World as a whole cannot really manage.

Carbon trading schemes, tax incentives, subsidies and aid will play a role in steering Africa towards environmentally correct behaviour - but in the end each country will be tempted to use up its respective resources. And most of the time they tend to release carbon monoxide.

In South Africa, Africa's largest economy by far, the coal fired power stations are already generating more than 90 percent of the country’s electricity.

By all accounts there is a large risk that South Africa will spit out even more omissions in the future, as there are plans to double the coal power capacity.

While most people agree that this is not a good idea from an environmental point of view, the fact is that South Africa desperately needs to increase its capacity, not the least due to the growth of the economy.

The country’s economy is growing by more than five percent, the highest level since the early Eighties.

The country is also planning to build some six nuclear power stations. The numbers could come up or down depending on other available sources and how public opinion is reacting to the various options.

The best bet, from an omission- if not necessarily from an environmental point of view, is hydropower.

South Africa already sources a few percent of its need from the Cahora Bassa hydro power station in Mozambique.

The percentage could increase further when Cahora Bassa II, out for tender at the moment, and the planned electric grid linking up DR Congo’s Inga power station – where there are massive developments planned – and new water power from Angola is up and running. But that is still some ten to 15 years ahead.


hen there are small scale, alternative sources. There is some solar power in place, mainly to heat up houses, in South Africa and Southern Africa. But it is miniscule.

The same thing with wind power. There are a few wind power stations in South Africa’s Western Cape province. But it is not taken very seriously.

More as a supplement to the national electricity utility Eskom's power.

In other countries in Sub-Sahara, such as Uganda and Tanzania electricity is even scarcer. In order to catch up they are building small oil- and gas plants.

South Africa, as well as a number of other Sub-Saharan countries, such as Senegal and Togo, is also looking seriously at ethanol solutions. South Africa plans to build half a dozen ethanol-plants; the first one is under construction.

The threat is clear. South Africa and in particular the rest of the continent do not feel they can afford the luxury to hold back on developing the energy resources they have. They are likely to go for conventional options, as those are the cheapest short term and as electricity is scarce.

The rhetorical question is, why should poor Africans pay a higher price and be more responsible than the West is?

As long as the West doesn’t change its tune there is little chance that Africa and other developing regions are going to change. Simply, there must make economic sense to choose energy sources that are less damaging for the environment and the atmosphere.

For now, we have to expect that Africa will put more pressure on the environment over the next ten years, at least until good environmental behavior is rewarded, e.g. the traffic in South Africa is growing by seven percent annually.

It means that the Worlds temperature will increase more – if not the West is cutting back dramatically. It is the price the World will pay when Africa – as well as China and India – is knocking on the global consumers society’s door.

Related articles

Related advertorials


Apartheid era oil storages fill up as US cuts import from Africa

open | 19 March, 2014

Africa, strategic oil:

South Africa must look to increase its refining capacity

open | 09 March, 2014


Brazil's surprise jetfighter decision sets scene for reduced superpowers control over arms trade

open | 17 January, 2014

> ARMS DEAL-FRAUD INVESTIGATION: Saab's agent in South Africa under investigation by British Serious Fraud Office
> ARMS: Saab negotiates multi-billion deal with Denel - Africascan update
> Saab touted as possible replacement for Boeing in India's prestigeious Tejas domestic jet fighter project

The phone directory app that gets India talking

open | 14 October, 2013

Digital change:

Reporters without quotes

open | 08 October, 2013

Obama Power to the People

subscriber | 13 July, 2013

Obama-Africa energy

Power to the people

open | 03 July, 2013

> Emerging economies hardest hit if oil price manipulated

Spys and donors

open | 16 June, 2013


African answer to US shaling revolution

open | 06 June, 2013

> Emerging economies hardest hit if oil price manipulated

The UN post-2015 report - new targets, less pain, new gain

subscriber | 31 May, 2013

Norway's pension fund under fire from OECD for human rights failure

open | 31 May, 2013

Bill's pill's - the Gates Foundations' upbeat report card on poverty

open | 07 April, 2013

Top-down, down-up

Setting free the bears in the 'digerati' circus tent

subscriber | 03 April, 2013

BAE-Saab arms deal:

New evidence links SAs former chief of staff to jet fighter commissions

open | 05 December, 2010


open | 04 February, 2010

The US Administration's "certification" of India's signing of a safeguard agreement with IAEA February 1 does not only mean that civil nuclear co-operation with India is cleared by the administration. It means that the US chances to sell F-16/18 jet fighters to India increases.

> RISK ANALYSIS: These are the pitfalls in Swedish outsider Saab's bid to win India's $ 12 billion jetfighter deal

Sweden turns to its royals and the sound of ABBA to get through to India's decision makers

subscriber | 19 October, 2008

Gripen inquiry reopened in SA?

subscriber | 24 March, 2008

The National Prosecution Authority in South Africa has reopened an inquiry into allegations of possible financial irregularities by deceased former defense minister Joe Modise and his entourage linked to the Gripen/Hawk jetfighter deal, claims Johannesburg investigative newspaper Mail & Guardian. A ScanView commentary states that Swedish prosecutor Christer van der Kwast has so far not confronted Saab with central corporate governance questions.

Mozambique eyes Norway for clues how to handle possible natural resources windfall - oil companies expect to find oil

subscriber | 09 December, 2007

Confidence is on the rise in Mozambique as natural resources projects are coming on stream and the economy continues to grow fast from a low base. Legal wrangling and a need for political protection are major hurdles for broader investments.

Biofuel in Africa - not an easy stroll in the sugar cane field for Swedish hopefuls

open | 08 December, 2007

South Africa turns down EU-SADC trade deal ahead of Lisbon summit

subscriber | 07 December, 2007

Nordic sugar giant Danisco makes niche investment in South Africa

subscriber | 09 July, 2007

The Swedish Prosecutor considers but hasn't yet decided to investigate Gripen sale to South Africa

open | 28 February, 2007

RETAIL INDUSTRY-ANALYSIS: Retail boom could lure the likes of H&M, IKEA, Elgiganten and Fona to Africa

open | 11 December, 2006


Chinese offensive in Africa causes dilopmatic distress

open | 15 November, 2006


Don't expect Africa to take the lead on emissions - the West must show the way

open | 28 October, 2006


open | 17 May, 2006

SOUTH AFRICA's democracy 10 years:

The story of the Madonna of Excelsior - same God, separate churches

open | 07 April, 2004

EXCELSIOR. In the small conservative farming community Excelsior material life is undoubtedly better after ten years of democracy. But the invisible hand of apartheid, ingrained racism and widespread poverty makes everyday life not so different from that of life during the apartheid era.



subscriber | 29 October, 2012



subscriber | 15 February, 2010


Brazil air force favors Saab’s Gripen

subscriber | 06 January, 2010

GENEALOGY: South African town battles over divisive Swedish 'colonialist'

open | 07 January, 2008

Here is a riddle for you. He was one of the leading South African 'voortrekkers'. A little town in South Africa's northern province of Limpopo is named after him. The municipality thinks this fellow was a 'colonialist' and that the old town name therefore is controversial. Few know of his Swedish roots - his Swedish name was Trägårdh. His family is one of many Nordic family names that live on in South Africa. So who was he?

Underperforming Sweden-South Africa matchmaking fund to be wound up

subscriber | 31 March, 2006

A government run Sweden-South Africa risk capital fund will be closed due underperformance. The fund has spent SEK 65 million since it was launch during a visit by Prime Minister Göran Persson in November 1999.

AID-DEBT RELIEF: For a song! - Denmark to write off €437 million to Africa

subscriber | 31 January, 2006

Denmark´s Development Minister, Ulla Tørnæs is singing along with rock icon Bono and promises to write off € 437 million to Africa´s poorest countries. Debt relief activists are not impressed.

AID-DEVELOPMENT: Nordic aid agencies want prosecutor to investigate funds linked to murdered journalist

subscriber | 24 January, 2006

In a new twist Nordic aid agencies want the Mozambican state prosecutor to investigate funds which, certainly in the public mind, are linked to the murder of journalist Carlos Cardoso, according to Africascan´s information.

AID-DEVELOPMENT: South African truck drivers living dangerously - update

subscriber | 15 January, 2006

AGRI INDUSTRY: Yara gave controversial price to Ethiopia´s president, won € 12.5 million worth of contracts

subscriber | 15 January, 2006

What correlation is there between giving Ethiopia´s Meles Zenawi Norwegian fertiliser company Yara´s prize and being awarded a multi-million contract in Ethiopia a few months later, asks a Norwegian watchdog.

FORESTRY INDUSTRY: Swedish forestry investor hit by byzantine rules and racism in Mozambique

open | 15 January, 2006

Just about everything that could go wrong did so, when Swedish investor Mikael Salin invested in Mozambique, but the company now seems to have turned a corner.

AFRICASCAN COMMENT: An old brothel in need of TLC has found its saviour

subscriber | 20 December, 2005

Slightly less corruption in Africa - but how about those who pay the bribes?

subscriber | 13 November, 2005