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Fossil fuel: The human cost of powering Africa’s future4 minutes read

Avoidable deaths attributable to exposure to future fossil fuel use is estimated to be over 45,000 by 2030

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Fossil fuel: The human cost of powering Africa’s future

Official projections of the UNDP suggest that the rise in human population in the next few decades will be most visible in Africa. Thirty years from now, about 2.2 billion people could be added to the global population – more than half of this is expected to come from Africa.

The broader consequences of this are far-reaching; from the need for more automation to enhanced jobs and expanded career prospects, demand for more food; housing alternatives, need for more alternative energy sources to overcrowding in mostly urban centres.

In spite of the increasing access to renewable energy sources, firewood and coal remain the dominant energy source powering African countries. About 80% of the world energy comes from fossil fuels, and fossil fuels such as coal are limited and therefore unsustainable resources

A recent study reveals that the rapid depletion and usage of fossil fuels on the continent will result in at least 50,000 avoidable deaths as a result of emissions from power plants and vehicular emissions alone.

Annual emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide in Africa will double by 2030, compared to figures from 2012.

Avoidable deaths attributable to exposure to future fossil fuel use is estimated to be over 45,000 by 2030. Most of which is likely to occur in South Africa, Malawi, and Nigeria. Yet fossil fuels are a driver for many economies around the world.

Overfilling our atmosphere with carbon will provoke more extreme weather, deadly heatwaves, more severe droughts, and increasing bush fires.
While the adoption of renewable energy sources for power generation is frequently cited as a practical alternative but despite the promise of innovations like solar mini-grids, most governments are less invested in solar-power solutions across the continent.

But with governments and corporations counting carbon emissions and mounting concerns about climate change, reliance on these same fuels will not last forever. As attitudes and policies evolve, they will continue to see a reduced role going forward.

Even African countries who have remained major proponents of renewable energy, still show a pull towards the use of coal.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) recently declined Kenya’s request for a coal-fired power plant. The AfDB further warns that it had no plans to finance new coal plants in the future, citing environmental and social impact assessment for the Lamu project in Kenya.

Numerous investors, development finance institutions and insurers are limiting coal-related investments. China, the World bank group, Germany and Japan who are the largest providers of public finance for Africa’s energy sector has continuously demonstrated the will to move away from fossil-fuelled power projects.

Also, environmental activists and climate crusaders are continually voicing their growing concerns about the impact of burning fossil fuels.

One such group is Greenpeace which sued and won its case against the Lamu plant in Nairobi.

Ghana currently faces a severe power crisis that could have significant repercussions on the overall working of a national economy – with fuel reforms on petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel being heavily taxed.

An area in Mpumalanga, an eastern province in South Africa houses South Africa’s national power supplier Eskom. It remains the largest single area contaminated by lethal nitrogen dioxide globally. This makes it the centre of the world’s deadliest air pollution.

This is not surprising as South Africa is the continent’s most advanced economy. Power generation and distribution persist as a major challenge. It has remained predominantly coal-based with already evident attendant consequences.

It is equally not surprising, that since the nation’s power supplier had been struggling lately losing $1.46 billion in one year; the economy of South Africa had been adversely affected with job losses, inflation and the worst unemployment statistics – South African unemployment rate of 29.1% hit10-year record high in 2019.

Again, most of the likely sulphur dioxide emissions are expected to come from future coal-fired power plants across central Nigeria, along the coast of Egypt and southern Africa.

And, as droughts get worse, the air quality deteriorates with air pollution from power plants in South Africa and Botswana travelling as far as Zimbabwe and Namibia thereby impacting ocean evaporation, surface wind speed, atmospheric pressure and the chances of uncontrollable bushfires with its associated consequences on the ecosystem.

UNICEF report showed only seven of Africa’s 54 countries are home to real-time air pollution detection and monitoring devices.

The challenge of air pollution on the continent is worsened by other environmental pollution and resource-depleting activities such as desertification, population explosion, and fauna depletion.
In essence, while over 70% of children living in Europe and North America live within 31 miles of an air quality monitoring station, the number stands at just 6% across Africa’s 1.255 billion people.

Fossil fuel burning also impacts water quality and availability –acid rock drainage from coal mines, the destruction of mountain streams and soil quality.

Governments of African countries and corporate decision-makers must, therefore, continue to expand the use of renewable energy and transform its energy system to cleaner alternatives; less dependence on coal and other fossil fuels.

With effective national and regional climate strategies, policymakers must be deliberate about legislations on the quality of automobile imports, increasing vehicle fuel efficiency; deploy more waste-to-energy approaches in rural communities, introducing limits on the amount of carbon that polluters are allowed to emit and building a clean energy economy by investing in efficient energy approaches and technologies

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Inside Africa’s largest media conference

Social Media Week Lagos presents another opportunity for media-focused conversations

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Social Media Week Lagos has grown to become arguably Africa's largest media gathering. Photo credit: nene-uwa.com.ng

Every year, thousands of media and technology enthusiasts come to Social Media Week (SMW) Lagos to hear from globally recognised brands, leading business executives and pop culture luminaries, all keenly focused on the future of Africa. Now in its eight year, the annual conference is now considered Africa’s largest tech and innovation event.

Social Media Week Lagos’ week-long programming focuses on ideas, trends, insights, business practices and policy that leverage technology to transform industries and communities across Africa. The 2018 edition hosted 23,364 visitors across the week and garnered an online social reach of 646.6 million, while the 2019 edition saw over 20,000 attendees across the week and had a online social reach of 557 million.

The significance of Social Media Week is in its ability yo bring together thought leaders, key stakeholders and the public to explore issues that are important for the modern world. The conference explores a wide range of topics including education, business, entertainment, technology, art, banking and politics. Through hundreds of events, Social Media Week Lagos aims to create opportunities for the continent’s most innovative minds.

This year, Social Media Week Lagos kicked off at the Landmark Event Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos on February 24 with the theme “Human.X”. The conference will feature conversations focused on what it means to take a human-first and experience-driven approach to innovation across industries, communities and the African continent. Social Media Week Lagos 2020 will host 21,580 attendees and feature 404 speakers across 184 events before its wrap on and February 28, 2020.

Some of this year’s speakers include: Jude “MI” Abaga, Segun Agbaje, Oluwatosin “Olorisupergal” Ajibade, Joey Akan, Kemi Lala Akindoju, Osagie Alonge, Osikhena “Osisuave” Dirisu, Ifu Ennada, Chude Jideonwo, Fuad Lawal, Vimbai Mutinhiri, Cheta Nwanze, Mildred Okwo, Oluwatosin Olaseinde, Adebola “Debola Lagos” Williams and Subomi Plumptre, among others.

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A region looking over its shoulders

Kenya and other East Africa are wary about the invasion of locusts.

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The rains have finally come to East Africa, but now there are locusts to worry about. Photo credit: The Atlantic.

Locusts are famed for their ravaging and destructive nature. Old Biblical accounts describe them as such, and in recent times, they have done little to change that impression, flying across continents and causing damage to agricultural systems.

These pests, known and feared for the amount of carnage they are capable of inflicting on vegetation, are currently darkening the skies across farmlands in Kenya, Ethiopia and other parts of East Africa. Breeding in parts of Yemen and Somalia, they migrate westwards to a climate currently characterised by frequent rainfall.

According to statistics provided by the United Nations, locusts could travel up to 150km (95 miles) in a day and eat their own body weight in greenery. What this means is that a swarm of locusts can eat as much food as 35,000 people in a day. Furthermore, during each three-month breeding cycle a single locust can breed 20 more, giving rise to the massive swarms that are now threatening crops across the East African sub-region.

Kenya, Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti are battling the worst locust outbreak in decades, and swarms have also spread into Tanzania and Uganda. The invasion is worsening food shortages in a region where up to 25 million people are suffering after three consecutive years of droughts and floods, worryingly similar to the drought and famine that plagued northern Ethiopia in 1954 which was also caused by locust invasion.

According to pest control experts, the best option is to kill these menacing insects, and while there is the required technology to execute this, the quantity of said technology is debatable: Ethiopia reportedly has only three operational planes to spray insecticides, while Kenya has only five. According to the United Nations, about $76 million is urgently needed to provide more spraying resources in combating these pests.

It’s ironic that after the drought that haunted the region in late 2019, there is now rain which has facilitated the growth of crops, but the rain is not only providing a fertile environment for the breeding of locust eggs, it is also making it harder to spray insecticides. This is because it is more effective to kill locusts in the morning as they usually have little energy before the day warms up, but frequent early morning rain slows down spraying missions, and by the time the planes get close, the swarms are already high up in the air.

It is uncertain how long this pest invasion will last, so the best course of action is for the United Nations to collaborate with the countries in the sub-region, particularly in the provision of more insecticides and more spraying planes. It’s a long season up ahead, and if East Africa is going to repel the danger of a food crisis, these locusts cannot be allowed to win.

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Entertainment

Ishan wins big at 2020 Star FM Musical Awards

The young singer sweeps up four awards with his 2019 monster hit, ‘Kure’ featuring Ti Gonzi.

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Burgeoning Zimbabwean act Ishan emerged the biggest winner at the Star FM musical awards, scooping five awards at the event that was held on Saturday, February 22.

The singer went home with plaques from the Best African Pop Sing, Best Newcomer, Best Collaboration, Song of the Year and Most Played Song on Star FM categories.

Later that night, Ishan teamed up with rapper, Ti Gonzi to perform their award-winning hit single ‘Kure’ which won four awards at the event.

Ishan is followed by top Zimbabwean gospel singer Janet Manyowa who won two awards in the Best Gospel and Best Female Artiste categories.

Ti Gonzi on his part won the Best Male Artist Award while Takura secured the Best Hip-Hop song award with his 2019 smash, ‘Noise’.

Zimbabwean living icon Alick Macheso was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Check out the full list of winners below.

Best African Pop Song Award
‘Kure’ – Ishan ft. Ti Gonzi

Best Zimdancehall Song Award
‘Vroom’ – Nutty O

Best Hip-Hop Song Award
‘Noise’ – Takura

Best R&B Song Award
‘TV Room’ – Hilzy, Gary Mapanzure

Best House Song Award
‘Bad News’ – DJ Stavo ft. Gemma

Best Song by Zimbabwean in the Diaspora Award
‘Chihera’ – Norman Masamba

Best Gospel Song Award
‘Ndimi’ – Janet Manyowa

Best Newcomer Award
Ishan ft. Ti Gonz – ‘Kure’

Best Female Artist Award
Janet Manyowa

Best Male Artist Award
Ti Gonzi

Best Duo/Group Award
Ngoma Ingoma – ‘Malobolo’

Best Collaboration Award
‘Kure’ – Ishan ft. Ti Gonzi

Best Producer Award
Cymplex

Song of the Year Award
‘Kure’ – ‘Ishan ft. Ti Gonzi

Album of the Year Award
Francesca – King 98

People’s Choice Award
‘Ngaibake’ by Freeman ft. Alick Macheso

Most Played Song on Star FM
‘Kure’ by Ishan ft .Ti Gonzi

Lifetime Achievement Award
Alick Macheso

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