Techniques e g. iron

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techniques (e.g. iron

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Sospeter M Muhongo

Department of Geology, University of Dar Es Salaam, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

Africa (54 countries) with approximately 14% of the world’s population and occupying ~ 20% of the world’s landmass consumes ~3% of the world’s total energy (approximately equivalent to that of France, 2.9% and India, 3.1%), and ca. 75% of the sub-Saharan population has no access to electricity. Africa contributes less than 3% of the global CO2 emissions and accounts for ~2% of the world’s GDP. Consequently, Africa’s current emission of greenhouse gases is insignificant with the exception of 1-2 countries; and when comparing the greenhouse gas emissions per capita with Europe and America, it is estimated that Europeans emit ~ 50-100 times more, whilst the Americans emit ~100-200 times more. Moreover, the Africa’s contribution to the estimated historic emissions (1850-1970) of about 400 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalents is completely negligible.

Recent estimates indicate that USA (GDP of ca. US trillion 15, IMF 2011) with approximately 4.5 % of world’s population consumes ~ 21% of world’s total energy and accounts for ~18% of global CO2 emissions. China (GDP of ca. US$ trillion 11) with approximately 20% of world’s population consumes ~ 16% of world’s total energy and accounts for 23% of global CO2 emissions. OECD countries + BRICS account for more than 80% of the world’s GDP and it is estimated that by 2050 the GDP of China, USA and Brazil will be approximately US$ trillion 70.7, 38.5 and 6.7, respectively.

The above facts and figures indicate the existence of the strong relationship between growth (i.e. wealth creation and economic prosperity) and greenhouse gas emissions. Many scientists estimate that about 1,200 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalents have been emitted from 1850 to 2009, and that the developing world’s share in those emissions was ca. 26% of the total amount, whilst USA’s contribution accounted for 29%. The Royal Society’s report (2009) on, “geoengineering the climate: science, governance and uncertainty,” argues that it is likely the global warming will exceed 2°C this century unless global greenhouse gas emissions are cut by at least 50% of 1990 levels by 2050, and by more thereafter.

In 2010, one third (1/3) of the world’s population faced water scarcity (annual water supply was below 1,000 m3 per person), and by 2025, two thirds (2/3) of the world’s population could face water stress (annual water supply will drop below 1,700 m3 per person). Today, ca. 1 billion people (out of the 7-billion world’s population) go to bed hungry each night. It is estimated that by 2050, the global population will be at 10 billion and Africa will have 2 billion people. It is also projected that by 2050, the global population will compel worldwide food production to increase by 70% on the same area of farmland. Consequently, global warming and its negative environmental consequences will require trans-boundary global solutions, and geoengineering may be one of them.

The ideal intention of geoengineering or climate engineering is to provide strategies and mechanisms for climate

change mitigation and adaptation, thus, in an ideal situation,

negative environmental consequences of global warming. Hence, geoengineering may simply be defined as an intentional introduction of large-scale techniques for greenhouse gases removal from the atmosphere (i.e. CO2 capture and storage) and solar radiation management (i.e. deflecting sunlight away from the Earth by using techniques such as reflective aerosols, cloud seeding and space mirrors). It is estimated that approximately a quarter (1/4) of the world’s CO2 is currently being absorbed by oceans, and hence, ocean acidification, affecting marine biodiversity and marine food chain, is one of the greatest challenges (i.e. ~70% of the world's surface is

covered in oceans) facing the deployment of the currently known geoengineering fertilization) to sequester atmospheric CO2 in deep ocean.

Africa is a region staggered under a heavy burden of poverty, famine and diseases. Her limited utilization of energy resources (e.g. fossil fuels - oil, coal and natural gas) has partly brought about this socio-economic reality. Consequently, geoengineering in Africa would be meaningful if it promotes and guarantees equitable growth and sustainable development through utilization of the continent’s abundant energy resources (Milesi, et al. 2004). By 2020, Africa will account for 20% of global oil and gas discoveries, e.g. Tanzania has natural gas reserves estimated at 7.5 trillion cu. ft.; and Mozambique has more than 10 trillion cu. ft. A conservative estimate shows that Africa has coal deposits to last it for over 300 years (e.g. Tanzania has over 1.5 billion tons of coal; Mozambique has over 2.3 billion tons). The contemporary Africa intends to utilize her enormous energy resources within the life-changing and poverty eradication socio-economic policies, technologies and innovations.

Renewable energies are the energies of the future. Scientists argue that the solar energy that hits the Earth exceeds the global energy needs by ~10,000 times. Europe has set a target of reaching 20% of its total energy consumption to be generated, by 2020, from renewable energy sources. The global solar energy market is considered to be increasing by 40% every year and is expected to grow from US$13 billion (2011) to US$32 billion by this year. The European Desertec solar project in northern Africa is investing € 400 billion for the utilization of the Saharan solar energy. The largest wind farm in Africa is located in the Gulf of El Zayt, Red Sea, Egypt (Zafarana wind farm, 200 MW) and has attracted an investment of € 340 million from Germany. Will geoengineering techniques impede development and utilization of the enormous renewable energies found in Africa, especially the solar and the wind energies?

Africa is very vulnerable to both natural and human-induced hazards and disasters such as droughts and floods and hence the deployment of geoengineering techniques should not bring about catastrophic hydrological cycle. Moreover, geoengineering governance (e.g. for the trans-boundary geoengineering initiatives), including planning, implementation, supervision, monitoring and regulation of the geoengineering techniques remains enigmatic. Global and/or regional legal regimes and political frameworks are still absent. Assuming that all cultural, ethical and governance issues are well addressed, there remains a big burning question demanding an acceptable answer, “will geoengineering address the root causes of global warming?” What is the magnitude of its unintended side effects?

Sub-Saharan Africa with 57.5 researchers per 1 million inhabitants (India, Brazil and China have 136.9, 656.9 and 1,070.9, respectively. South Africa has 392.9; UNESCO, 2010) and with almost all countries spending less than 1% of their national GDPs on R&D, Africa remains vulnerable to the negatives consequences of climate change and geoengineering. The continent requires sufficient financial support and technology transfer; skilled human resource; climate science, technology and innovation infrastructure; and implementable climate policies for its sound, measurable and sustainable green economy - equitable growth and sustainable development paradigm for the global society.


International Monetary Fund (IMF), 2011. World Economic Outlook Database of September 2011.

Milesi, J.P., Feybesse, J.L., Pinna, P. +, Deschamps, Y., Kampunzu, H.A., Muhongo, S., Lescuyer, J.L. and Toteu, S.F. (Coordinators), 2004. Geology and Major Ore Deposits of Africa - Scale: 1:10.000.000, BRGM (France).

The Royal Society, 2009. Geoengineering the climate: science, governance and uncertainty.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 2010. Report on the current status of science around the world.

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