Commentary: What the shift to a low-carbon world means for Africa's extractive dependent economies

Author: Busani Bafana, Inter Press Service , Published on: 9 October 2019

"Africa’s Mineral Wealth May Just have to Stay in the Ground to Protect a Changing Climate"

As a result of climate change, resource extraction industries in Africa will be impacted by asset stranding, researchers say. “Stranding implies that several natural assets are going to become commercially unviable around the world as a result of climate change and the inability of countries to exploit them,” said Vanessa Ushie, manager of the policy analysis division at the African Natural Resources Centre of the African Development Bank (AfDB), which supports African countries to leverage their natural resources for sustainable development. 

Ushie told IPS stranding is an increasingly important policy issue that African countries should consider because they are highly dependent on natural resources, with an average 70 percent of their exports being minerals. As the continent struggles to reach its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of global goals identified by the United Nations to end poverty and inequality among member states, a wealth of natural resources that could be used for Africa’s development remain  largely untapped...

For the African continent, a latecomer to the fossil fuel boom, arguments for asset stranding could influence development gains and also interrupt economic growth. Ushie said some assets will be stranded due to changes in markets and investment flows, as global extractive companies and investors adjust their portfolios to meet new, low-carbon regulations. Other extractive assets are at risk due to changing consumer demand, such as the growing use of solar energy and electric vehicles in developed countries. “With growing climate change and the ensuing low-carbon transition, Africa’s mining sector faces serious risks, and some opportunities,” Ushie told IPS, noting that African countries need to understand and respond to the new normal.

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