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Richard Munang

Trading while caring for people and planet

Ratifications are moving ahead, if slowly, on the newly signed African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA)—the world’s largest free trade agreement (with the most member countries) since the founding of the World Trade Organization.

The African Union and its member countries hope that, among other benefits, a free trade area will improve Africa’s economy.

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Tackling inequality by ‘lifting stones’

“If you wish to move mountains tomorrow, you must start by lifting stones today”—so goes an African proverb, crystallising the solutions to the continent’s socioeconomic inequalities.

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How smart policies can lessen effects of climate change

According to a famous African proverb, “When the music changes, so does the dance.” This adage illustrates the continent’s current position amidst opportunities for, and challenges to, development and governance as the 21st century unfolds. 

In recent years, national leaders have pursued many new development initiatives. Among them are the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on sustainable financing, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris climate agreement and the World Trade Organization’s Nairobi Package. 

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The Paris climate deal and Africa

Africa’s development and climate change experts are confident that the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change that was unanimously adopted last December in Paris will be a win for the continent. At the Paris summit, 195 countries agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions and enhance adaptation in a way that will keep global temperature increase to “well below 2° C” and, more optimistically, to attempt to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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Light at the end of the tunnel

Environmental sustainability is crucial to Africa’s development. As the target date for achieving the MDGs comes to a close, achieving environmental sustainability remains a challenge.

While African countries made great efforts to reduce  greenhouse gas emissions and the use of ozone-depleting substances while strengthening the protection of their territorial and marine areas, more forest cover in the region was lost — either through devastation by natural causes or because the land was converted to other uses. 

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Africa’s trade under a cloud of changing climate

The devastating effects of climate change are already being felt across the planet, including in Africa. The 2011 drought-induced famine in the Horn of Africa affected more than 10 million people, claimed 257,000 lives and cost over $1 billion in damages. The recent Africa Adaptation Gap Report by the UN Environment Programme warns that climate change could reduce total crop yields in sub-Saharan Africa by as much as 20% by 2070. Worse still, it could begin to affect Africa’s trade potential.

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Despite climate change, Africa can feed Africa

Climate change comes with never-before-experienced impacts. For example, crop yields and growing seasons will decrease even as changing rain patterns will worsen people’s access to water. Yet Africa’s population is projected to reach 2 billion in less than 37 years, and in 86 years three out of every four people added to the planet will be African.

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