Africa is the world’s least developed continent and has the greatest need to industrialize in order to lift its population out of poverty. This challenge is all the more important because of the damage caused by industry to the environment.

Alex Emeka
June 27, 2023
min read

Africa is the world’s least developed continent and has the greatest need to industrialize in order to lift its population out of poverty. This challenge is all the more important because of the damage caused by industry to the environment.

Africa's economic development is an important issue for the region’s future and the international community as a whole. However, it is vital to take into account environmental challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution, which negatively impact the health, livelihoods, and food security of Africans. Thus, balancing economic development with environmental protection is essential to ensure a sustainable future for Africa and its people. To this end, innovative and sustainable solutions must be found to help African countries emerge from underdevelopment while preserving natural resources and combating environmental change.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030, is a framework that African nations can use as a guide towards achieving economic development and environmental sustainability. The SDGs are a set of global goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015 to direct global development efforts until 2030. There are 17 SDGs with 169 targets, encompassing a wide range of social, economic, and environmental dimensions. Halfway towards 2030, most African nations are still far behind in meeting these targets. SDG Goals 13 & 15 address climate change, the protection of ecosystems, the promotion of sustainable land use, and biodiversity conservation, all of these are crucial for the continent's sustainable development. Implementation of these policies requires effective governance, political will, policy coherence, and stakeholder engagement at national, regional, and international levels.

Also, the AU Agenda 2063 outlines some really important actions African nations must take to meet the realization of economic and environmental stability in Africa by the year 2063. Agenda 2063 is a strategic framework adopted by the African Union in 2013, it establishes the continent's vision for socio-economic transformation over the next five decades. Agenda 2063 underscores the importance of promoting renewable energy sources and sustainable infrastructure development. It calls for scaling up investments in clean and affordable energy, including solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal power, to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. It also encourages the transition to a circular economy model that minimizes waste generation, promotes recycling and resource efficiency, and fosters sustainable consumption and production patterns. It emphasizes the need for effective waste management systems to mitigate environmental pollution and protect ecosystems.

Using the SDGs and Agenda 2063 as a guide, African countries can emerge from underdevelopment, while also preserving and protecting the environment by adopting a sustainable development approach that takes into consideration environmental, social, and economic issues. Here are a few ways to achieve this:

- Invest in renewable energy: African countries can invest in renewable energy such as solar, wind, hydro and geothermal power to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

- Promote energy efficiency: African countries can promote energy efficiency in buildings, industry and transportation to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

- Promote sustainable agriculture: African countries can promote sustainable agriculture by adopting environmentally friendly farming practices such as agroforestry, organic farming and soil conservation to preserve natural ecosystems, improve food security and increase farmers' incomes.

- Encourage clean transportation: African countries can encourage the use of clean transportation such as public transport, electric vehicles and bicycles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.

- Protect natural ecosystems: African countries can protect natural ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, and coastal areas to preserve biodiversity, regulate climate, and provide essential ecosystem services to local populations.

- Strengthen international cooperation: African countries can benefit from international cooperation to strengthen their capacity to implement sustainable development policies and to access financing and clean technologies.

In sum, it is important to invest in sectors that have a positive impact on the environment, health, and the local economy. By integrating these principles and actions into national strategies, policies, and programs, African countries can enhance their resilience to climate change, promote sustainable development, and protect their valuable natural resources for the benefit of current and future generations. Renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, clean transportation, waste management, education and training, and the protection of natural ecosystems are examples of key sectors for sustainable development investments in Africa.