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How African Cities Can Harness Green Technologies For Growth And Jobs

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How African Cities Can Harness Green Technologies For Growth And Jobs

 

Camaren Peter, University of Cape Town

In 1967 one gigabyte of hard drive storage space cost US$ 1m. Today it’s around two US cents. Computer processing power has also increased exponentially: it doubles every two years. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to technological progress in the 21st century.

There have also been tremendous advances in communication technology; robotics; nanotechnology; genetics and artificial intelligence, among other things. This merging of digital, physical and biological worlds has come to be known as the “fourth industrial revolution”.

So far, relatively little attention has been paid to the overwhelming potential of the fourth industrial revolution to catalyse much needed transitions to a more sustainable society – particularly in the developing world.

This is slowly starting to shift. The World Economic Forum recently published a set of briefs as part of its “Shaping the Future of Environment and Natural Resource Security System Initiative”. These documents have begun to address some key questions around the potential role of the fourth industrial revolution in supporting a sustainable development agenda.

There are many compelling reasons for combining the offerings of the fourth industrial revolution with new green technologies, infrastructures and systems to tackle the developing world’s challenges. Multiple benefits can be realised through introducing these offerings in new, innovative ways that are customised for local contexts.

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These green technologies can generate employment, ease pressure on infrastructure in rapidly growing cities and lower energy costs, especially for poorer households.

Chance for change

Unplanned slums and informal settlements present systemic problems in most developing world cities. This is particularly the case in both large, established and smaller, emerging African cities. Municipalities are under strain. They simply don’t have enough bulk infrastructure – water, sanitation, electricity and waste management facilities – to cater for growing populations.

The value of green technologies and systems is that they are largely decentralised or semi-decentralised. Examples include solar panels, energy saving devices, and small-scale wind and hydro energy technologies. These don’t require major infrastructure investment. And their decentralised nature enables them to keep up with cities as they change.

The introduction of green technology solutions and systems can also bring down household costs. Between 50 and 70% of poor African households’ budgets are spent on food, water, energy and transport. This makes them vulnerable to external shocks such as sharp rises in the costs of electricity, oil and petroleum, food and water.

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These factors are also interlinked: for example, if oil prices rise, so do the costs of transport and food. That places extra pressure on already struggling households.

Green technologies can buffer poor households from these shocks by decoupling them from their dependence on local grids and provincial, national or global supply systems.

That’s at a household level. Then there’s the bigger picture. Absorbing green and sustainable technologies can help seed small to medium enterprises on a large scale and increase their investment appeal.

This, in turn, can drive economic growth and get cash circulating at the levels where it’s most needed.

Introducing new technologies to a city is a great job creator. People are needed to install solar panels, solar water heaters, biogas digesters, energy savings devices; or to set up urban agriculture and permaculture operations. There are already examples of this in several African cities.

Unlocking opportunities

And, perhaps the biggest boon of them all: the fourth industrial revolution presents a massive opportunity to leapfrog African countries’ productive economies into a wholly new space.

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Economic diversification and development on the continent could benefit considerably from harnessing the opportunities emerging in the green technology and fourth industrial revolution spaces. This will shift them onto a significantly new economic growth and developmental trajectory. It will also go a long way towards ensuring that as emerging economies develop, they will do so in a manner that doesn’t exacerbate climate change and environmental degradation.

A number of African countries are already positioning themselves to harness this opportunity. Both Rwanda and Ethiopia, for example, have placed green economic development and sustainability at the heart of their national economic development strategies and plans. More recently, Kenya has committed to actualising a 100% transition to green energy by 2020.

Other African countries would do well to follow these nations’ examples. The fourth industrial revolution is here. Combining it with green technology is a way for the continent to benefit at all levels.The Conversation

Camaren Peter, Associate Professor, Allan Gray Centre for Values-Based Leadership, GSB, UCT; Executive Head,Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change, University of Cape Town

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

African News

Uganda: Police Steps Up Deployments To Stop More Cases Of FGM

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Uganda: Police Steps Up Deployments To Stop More Cases Of FGM

Authorities in Uganda’s Eastern Sebei region have reported an increase in cases of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), that is illegal in the country. Police say they have stepped up their deployments to stop any more cases.

Local leaders and activists say some FGM ceremonies are now happening in public in spite of the practice being illegal in Uganda. Most of the victims are believed to be married women in their 20s and 30s who face stigma for not having undergone the procedure.

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A non-governmental agency says there have been at least 12 women who have undergone public circumcision, although there have been many more suspected cases.

FGM was banned in Uganda in 2010 with those committing the act facing up to 10 years in prison. Campaigning by the government and activists has led to a reduction in the practice.

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But now some women, who did not undergo the procedure before marriage, are said to be facing social isolation and pressure to get circumcised.

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African News

Security Officers Repulse Suspected Al-Shabaab Attack In Kenya

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Security Officers Repulse Suspected Al-Shabaab Attack In Kenya

Four more suspects named by Kenyan authorities as wanted following last week’s attack at the Dusitd2 complex in the capital, Nairobi, have surrendered. They reportedly handed themselves in at a police station in Isiolo, north-east of the capital.

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Kenyan police also said on Monday, they have thwarted an attack by suspected Somali militants Al Shabaab on a Chinese-owned construction company in an eastern region, days after the Islamist group killed 21 people in Nairobi.

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The assailants wounded one person while they attempted to hit the site in Garissa county, not far from the Kenyan-Somali border, owned by a Chinese road construction company that is building the Garissa-Modogashe highway.

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County Police Commander David Kerina says, the attackers were repulsed since the security officers were very alert.

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South Sudan Govt Sets To Repair Oil Wells Damaged During Civil War

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South Sudan Govt Set To Repair Oil Wells Damaged During Civil War

South Sudan says it has begun repairing and pumping oil from wells damaged during the civil war that broke out in 2013. Oil Minister Ezekiel Lul Gatkuoth says the move will boost production by 70, 000 barrels per day by the end of the year.

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The country gained independence from Sudan eight years ago, and currently produces 160,000 barrels per day.

Gatkuoth says wells are being repaired with the help of Sudan after production plunged to less than half of pre-war levels. South Sudan’s President Salva Kirr and rebel leader Riek Machar signed what they called the “final final” peace deal agreement to end the civil war in august last year. But it has not been fully implemented.

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