Showing posts with label climate change. Show all posts
Showing posts with label climate change. Show all posts

Sunday, June 15, 2014

China, Africa and the Environment

The Centre for Chinese Studies at Stellenbosch University devoted its March 2014 issue of Africa East Asian Affairs to the role of China and Africa's environment.  It includes the following research articles:

 --Challenges in Combating Desertification in Sub-Saharan Africa, Which Role for China? by Alione Thiam, Macau University.
--Climate Finance, Africa and China's Role by Ye Yu, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies.
--Cultural Heritage Resources as Environmental Sustainability Enablers within the Sino-Africa Environmental Partnership: The Case of Botswana by Susan Keitumetse, University of Botswana.

Monday, April 14, 2014

China, Africa, and Environmental Issues

Stellenbosch University's Centre for Chinese Studies published in March 2014 a special issue of its African East-Asian Affairs - The China Monitor on environmental sustainability and cooperation between Africa and China.

The issue contains the following articles, which can be accessed online:

--Challenges in Combating Desertification in Sub-Saharan Africa, Which Role for China? by Alioune Thiam.
--Climate Finance, Africa and China's Role by Yu Ye.
--Cultural Heritage Resources as Environmental Sustainability Enablers within the Sino-Africa Environmental Partnership: The Case of Botswana by Susan Keitumetse.
--Engaging the Environment in the China-Africa Relationship by Harrie Esterhuyse and Meryl Burgess. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Can New Water Discoveries Save East Africa?

Foreign Affairs published on 8 April 2014 a piece titled "Quenching Kenya: Can New Water Discoveries Save East Africa?" by Brahma Chellaney.  The author points out that East Africa is one of the most water stressed areas of the world but suggests a solution may be the discovery of new underground aquifers.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Ending Conflict and Building Peace in Africa

The High-Level Panel on Fragile States in Africa released its report on 15 January 2014 titled "Ending Conflict and Building Peace in Africa: A Call to Action." 

The report identified the following as major challenges facing Africa: youth employment, urbanization, governance of natural resources, climate change, poverty and inequality.  It recommended that African countries increase their focus on the following issues: develop new strategies for youth employment, create new instruments for supporting private investment, empower women, fund infrastructure that improves justice and security, and promote resilience through regional economic cooperation.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Egypt's Nile Delta Slowly Disappearing

The Inter Press Service news agency published a brief article on 29 January 2014 titled "Nile Delta Disappearing Beneath the Sea" by Cam McGrath.  It points out that the highly productive Nile Delta of Egypt is disappearing for three reasons: coastal erosion, saltwater infiltration, and rising sea levels.  Much of the problem is due to the construction of the Aswan Dam on the Nile River above the Delta, which now blocks about 120 million tons of silt annually from reaching and replenishing the Nile Delta.  Most of this silt comes from the Blue Nile and other tributaries in Ethiopia.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation

China's State Council published in August 2013 a white paper titled "China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation."  Trey Menefee consolidated the various pieces of the white paper as part of  a Google document.

The white paper is full of recent statistics concerning China's trade, aid, investment and soft power interaction with Africa.  It shows that in the last three years, China has run a modest trade deficit with Africa collectively.  It suggests there will be an increasing emphasis on collaboration in the agricultural sector.  It reports that total cumulative Chinese FDI to Africa as of the end of 2012 was about $21 billion, still well below the actual amount in my opinion.  The paper also emphasizes interaction with African regional organizations such as the African Union, ECOWAS, East African Community, and African Development Bank.

The Voice of America asked me to react generally to the white paper.  I made two observations.  First, the white paper underscores the magnitude of China-Africa economic interaction, which is impressive.  Second, like any government document, it puts the best possible gloss on the relationship from China's perspective by emphasizing those issues that will please African countries and downplaying those that are controversial such as the component of Chinese labor in major infrastructure projects in Africa.  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam, Blue Nile Water Flow and Impact on Egypt

Writing for the Christian Science Monitor on 25 June 2013, William Davison produced an excellent analysis on the impact of filling the reservoir behind Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam, which is now under construction.

Rendition of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam/Wikipedia
Titled "Will Ethiopia's 'Grand' New Dam Steal Nile Waters from Egypt?" the article addresses the critical issue that impacts Egypt:  how long will it take to fill the reservoir behind the Renaissance Dam and how much water will this process siphon off annually until the reservoir is filled.

Once the reservoir is filled, the Blue Nile flows as before with only an adjustment for evaporation from the reservoir.  But this could be an advantage because the rate of evaporation will be lower than if the water is stored in the much hotter area behind the Aswan High Dam.

For those of you interested in the technical aspects of this hugely important issue, I recommend a 2008 study titled "Sediment in the Nile River System" by Abdalla Abdelsalam Ahmed and Usama Hamid A.E. Ismail and a 2010 article in the Nile Basin Water Science and Engineering Journal titled "Investigation of Step Trends of the Nile River Flow Time Series" by Ageel I. Bushara and Tagreed Abdelrahim.  All of these authors are Sudanese.  They explain the importance of the variable flow of all Nile tributaries from one year to another and the timing of the high and low flows of the rivers.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

China, India, BRICS and Africa

The January/February 2013 Thunderbird International Business Review contains an article titled "Adjusting to BRICs in Glass Houses: Replacing Obsolete Institutions and Business Models" by Raj Aggarwal, Sullivan Professor of International Business and Finance at the University of Akron. 

The article demonstrates the projection of economic power of the new economies by focusing on China's and India's economic expansion in Africa.  The analysis shows that non-economic state-driven entities are likely to be a significant part of the rise of South-South trade and investment flows.  It also poses theoretical and practical problems for existing market-based economic and geopolitical institutions.  It argues that global adjustment to these new realities is challenging as existing international financial institutions seem to be inadequate.

The most original part of the analysis is the author's contrasting approach of India and China to foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa.  Aggarwal concludes that the tectonic forces of demographics, technology, globalization, sustainability, and climate change are forcing obsolescence in developed country business models and simultaneously leading to the emergence of some large developing economies.  Rising South-South economic flows with their unusual modes have to be accommodated by the existing economic powers--an accommodation that must happen while the global economy also deals with major restructuring of value chains and business models. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Global Trends 2030

The U.S. National Intelligence Council released its Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds in December 2012. The intelligence study looks at the likely state of the planet in 2030. There is a brief section devoted to Sub-Saharan Africa; several of its conclusions follow.

Report cover.
The megatrends of population growth without aging, rapid urbanization, and, to some extent, middle class expansion will significantly shape the trajectories of most African countries and at least a few--particularly in the climate change-threatened Sahel and Sahara regions--will be sharply challenged by resource scarcities.

Education will be a game-changer for those African countries that not only offer nominally widespread schooling but ensure that qualified teachers are in classrooms--currently lacking across the continent.

Commodity-exporting countries need to be wary that increased volatility in global markets is probably ahead and will challenge their fiscal viability and stability if they do not work to diversify their economies.

Africa will be at risk of conflict and increased violence as development proceeds unevenly among and within African countries. The Sahel region, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia will be the most vulnerable and challenged to improve governance and resource management.

Click here to access the entire report.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Climate Change, Conflict, East Africa and the Horn

Researchers at the University of Colorado-Boulder examined extensive climate datasets between 1990 and 2009 for Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda. They concluded that the risk of human conflict increases somewhat with hotter temperatures and drops slightly with higher precipitation. They also concluded that socioeconomic, political and geographic factors play a much more substantial role than climate change.

For a summary of the report in Science Daily, click here.

To access the entire report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, click here.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

US Strategy in Sub-Saharan Africa

The Obama Administration released on 14 June 2012 a major white paper titled U.S. Strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa. Click here to access the document.

The strategy is a solidification of existing policy rather than a statement of new policy. There are no new major initiatives and the paper comes out in a budget climate where it is not reasonable to expect new U.S. government financial flows to Africa. Nevertheless, it does offer a good statement of current U.S. policy towards Sub-Saharan Africa.

The paper does propose a "Doing Business with Africa Campaign" to mobilize the U.S. private sector. If pursued seriously, this could have significant impact. But even this modest project has unfortunate timing. One of the key actors in any such program is the U.S. Department of Commerce and there is no indication that new resources are being made available to support the program within Commerce or by the U.S. Export-Import Bank. The Secretary of Commerce recently experienced a medical issue and may not be available to lend his stature to the initiative.

For a similar reaction to the white paper, click here to read a blog posting by Sarah Margon at the Center for American Progress and previously on the staff of former Senate Africa Subcommittee Chairman Russell Feingold.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Groundwater Resources in Africa

Groundwater is the major source of drinking water in Africa and its use for irrigation is forecast to increase substantially to combat growing food insecurity. As the largest and most widely distributed store of freshwater in Africa, groundwater provides an important buffer to climate change.

I ran across a recent technical study in the 2012 issue of Environmental Research Letters titled "Quantitative Maps of Groundwater Resources in Africa" by A.M. MacDonald, H.C. Bonsor, B.E.O. Dochartaigh and R.G. Taylor. It provides the first quantitative continent-wide maps of aquifer storage and potential borehole yields in Africa based on an extensive review of available maps, publications and data. The largest groundwater volumes are found in the large sedimentary aquifers in the North African countries of Libya, Algeria, Egypt, and Sudan.

The survey looks at most countries in Africa. In the Horn of Africa, the two Sudans together have by far the most groundwater storage in the region. Ethiopia has the next highest amount followed closely by Somalia. Kenya is not too far behind. Eritrea and Djibouti have very low estimated groundwater storage.

For persons interested in this topic, click here to read the article.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Water Crisis in Africa

The International Affairs Society of George Washington University asked me to join a panel discussion on 9 April 2012 dealing with the water crisis in Africa. Some fourteen of Africa's 54 countries are experiencing water stress; another 11 are expected to join the group by 2025, when about half of Africa's population will face water stress or scarcity. For the text of my brief remarks, click here.

I referred to two important studies on this topic. One is a massive study by the United Nations Development Program (UNEP) that looks at all the river basins and aquifers in Africa based on research done between 2003 and 2006. It is called Freshwater Under Threat: Vulnerability Assessment of Freshwater Resources to Environmental Change - Africa.

The Office of the Director for National Intelligence published the second study on 2 February 2012. Titled Global Water Security, it does not focus on Africa but provides a solid analysis of global water issues looking ahead to 2040.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ethiopia, Lifestock and Food Security

Brighter Green, a New York-based public policy action organization, used climate change as the point of entry to explore the effects of the expansion and intensification of the livestock sector in Ethiopia for food security, resource use, equity and sustainability. Titled Climate, Food Security, and Growth: Ethiopia's Complex Relationship with Livestock, the study appeared in 2011.

Brighter Green's research examines whether Ethiopia can industrialize its livestock sector, primarily to serve export markets, without forestalling or derailing development prospects for a population that is expected to reach 150-170 million by 2050. It also investigates whether such a path is viable when large numbers of Ethiopians already have difficulty gaining access to good soils, grazing land, and water. Food security is a huge national challenge and the effects of climate change are increasingly felt.

Brighter Green questions whether Ethiopia's expansion and intensification of its animal-agriculture sector is constraining its chances of coping effectively with drought and erratic weather. Africa will be among the most affected by global warming, even though it has contributed almost nothing to the problem. Africa's greenhouse gas emissions constitute less than 5 percent of the world's total, and Ethiopia's contribution is less than one-tenth of one percent.

Brighter Green recommends that the Ethiopian government adopt a long-term plan for achieving food security that emphasizes nutritious and sustainably produced foods for human consumption, reassess its heavy reliance on livestock, and end policies that encourage further industrialization of this sector, while working to expand domestic capacity to produce vegetables, fruits, pulses, and cereals for Ethiopians.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

China-South Africa Relations

The Centre for Chinese Studies at Stellenbosch University in South Africa published in December 2011 a paper on the growing partnership between South Africa and China. The author is Haibin Niu, a research fellow at Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, who was a visiting scholar at the Centre for Chinese Studies.

The paper, A Chinese Perspective on South Africa as an Emerging Power: Global, Regional and Bilateral Relations, emphasizes the regional and global importance of South Africa now that it has become a member of BRICS with Chinese support.