Most of the developed countries in the world, grew their economies initially by exploiting their natural resources or those of their neighbors. The industrial revolution across Europe saw countries desperate for raw materials and energy sources like coal. Africa too has ample natural resources, however much of this is being exploited by foreign companies and investment.
Sure Africa has mineral and fuel resources although unfortunately this is not evenly distributed, the problem is that these resources are coveted across the world and often they are simply used to fuel other countries growth not African ones. There is also of course, the perennial problem of corruption – Nigeria has huge energy resources but often the people of that country fail to see the benefits. Oil has created great wealth for Nigeria but little filters down to ordinary citizens and smaller businesses.
The economic growth model based on mineral resources like coal and oil is however an outdated one and it may be better for Africa to look to the future using cleaner energy sources. After all the continent has some huge advantages when it comes to creating energy using wind and the sun.
Just outside the Sahara Desert on the Moroccan border lie a huge installation of nearly half a million parabolic mirrors arranged in rows across the valley. It is a $650 million investment in solar energy which opened this year, Morocco has committed to generating over 40% of it’s electricity requirements from renewable sources by 2020.
Their is some strong logic here, Africa is ideally placed to utilize both solar and wind power and many nations are beginning to aggressively expand in these areas. There is hope that if this continues, Africa can avoid some of the hugely destructive growth phrases which most countries have practiced, China being the latest example. There is little logic in forcing Africa down the same path, it hasn’t worked up till now and for once the continent can learn from the mistakes of the more developed world and bypass carbon based fuel sources.
This is important, it is obviously unfair to deny Africa the same growth options as the developed world, yet the consequences of global warming would be disastrous to the continent. There are many reports and documentaries which list the potential problems that Africa could face if the world’s temperature keeps climbing – you can download them from peer to peer file sharing sites but use anonymous torrents to hide your location.
Africa needs more energy and it needs it fast, demand is exploding alongside the population. Many of the 1,2 billion people there simply don’t have access to reliable power sources and to get that to them using traditional methods would increase global warming substantially. The solutions are there for Africa in a variety of renewable sources, all they need is the skills and expertise to implement the solutions. It is in every ones interest to help Africa meet it’s energy requirements using clean fuels rather than carbon based ones.
John Hawkins, Changing Your IP Online, Faber Press 2015.