What the World Can Learn From Africa’s Earthshots
When you think of environmental solutions, the continent of Africa likely isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, you may not have even considered it at all. But Africa is doing a lot of things right when it comes to creating a brighter future, for both their people and the planet.
In this article, we’ll explore what the rest of the world can learn from Africa’s initiatives and how we can model after them to create a better, greener future.
Africa’s Need for Innovative Solutions
Africa was the subject of colonialism for centuries, and they are still experiencing many of its impacts. Current systems and architecture are still designed to benefit colonists, leading to much of the poverty that the continent experiences today.
Health issues, food insecurity, and energy accessibility are also issues that persist in many parts of Africa to this day. In addition, the looming threat of climate change is cause for concern.
Many of these issues will only be exacerbated in the future if they are not properly addressed. With an urban population that’s expected to triple by 2050, Africa needs some serious systematic changes in order to address these concerns.
Thankfully, they’re well on their way to creating a solution, and the answer lies in regeneration. Focusing on a regenerative future will allow Africa to grow its economy and address existing issues, benefiting its citizens and the world as a whole.
Clean Energy for a Clean Future
Africa has an untapped potential for using solar power and other renewables as their primary energy source, and many countries are using this to their advantage.
Countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, and South Africa are leading energy transition efforts around the continent, and have shown a commitment to accelerating the use of renewable energy. In fact, more than a third of Morocco’s energy is derived from renewable sources and Kenya has plans to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030.
If utilized correctly, Africa’s renewable energy initiatives can also help bring communities valuable access to electricity. Vera Songwe, the UN Under Secretary-General, anticipates that renewable energy can bring electricity to over 70% of Africans who currently lack access.
Uganda is using renewable energy in combination with their urban development. The city of Jinja, Uganda uses solar powered street lamps to light the city at night, reducing electricity costs by 25%.
Renewable energy can increase electricity access and promote healthy ecosystems in Africa. But the unique architectural designs across the continent are a model the rest of the world can learn from.
Africa is quickly becoming a global leader in eco-forward architecture. Not only does the afro-architecture have its own unique look and style, green construction can facilitate growth while addressing climate change, job creation, and poverty alleviation at the same time.
Ghanian-British architect David Adjaye is making a name for himself in the world of green architecture. His expertise lies in creating sustainable, climate-focused styles, drawing attention to the innovation of African architectural design.
The feasibility of African architecture lies in finding new ways to cut costs, take lessons from traditional building methods, and conserve energy. This is exemplified by the Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Built from concrete, the design uses biomimicry to create a ventilation system similar to the self-cooling mounds of African termites. With no conventional air-conditioning or heating systems, the building stays regulated all year long, reducing energy consumption and rent costs for its tenants.
As well as green buildings, there are many examples of green urbanization throughout Africa. Nairobi, Kenya is often referred to as the “green city in the sun” for its nature-forward environments. Konza Technopolis is another example of a smart city in Kenya, with green spaces that provide natural ecosystems and services such as clean air and water.
How Africa Can Avoid the Mistakes of the West
With so much development currently taking place in Africa and even more anticipated in the coming years, the continent has the potential to avoid the mistakes the west and other parts of the world have made in the past.
When developing and growing their economy and infrastructure, Africa can be more conscientious about environmental efforts. Instead of emitting large amounts of carbon, they can utilize renewable energy to power their economy. Instead of producing mass amounts of plastic, they can take advantage of more natural resources such as hemp or bamboo.
Africa and other developing regions of the world don’t have to go through the same environmental mistakes we in the west have endured. Africa and the developing world have a future of potential. All it takes is a focus on making a positive impact on people and the planet.