NAIROBI, KENYA: For a continent that contributes least to global environmental degradation, Africa stands to bear the heaviest brunt should current global warming trends be allowed to fester.
As world leaders prepare to put pen to paper on a new set of development goals later this year, concerns are mounting that such ambitions will come to naught if world temperatures are allowed to increase by more than two degrees centigrade. Gains in development made over the past two decades also stand a real chance of being washed away.
Add to this the fact that over half of the continent’s population does not have access to electricity, and you have a real poser on your hands. With such grave energy supply statistics, some indeed wonder whether Africa can afford the luxury of being too picky and only go for environmentally-conscious sources. There are of course those who hold that the continent should first meet its energy deficit before worrying about such lofty-sounding ideals like carbon footprints and green business.
According to the recently launched African Progress Panel Report, which this year focused on the continent’s energy and environmental sustainability challenge, Africa’s electricity consumption remains low, with over 600 million people having no access to electricity. The same report says that Sub-Saharan Africa’s electricity consumption is less than that of Spain and on current form, it will take until 2080 for every African to have access to electricity.
In such a situation, it is easy to forget about being eco-friendly. But the APP report argues that despite its low energy penetration levels, Africa has a real chance to start on a clean slate as it progresses on the development ladder.
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“Africa stands to gain from developing low-carbon energy, and the world stands to gain from Africa avoiding the high-carbon pathway followed by today’s rich world and emerging markets,” says the APP report. The panel brings together a number of eminent experts on Africa and is chaired by Ghanaian diplomat and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
The report cites a number of countries in the region as being at the front of the global trend of climate-resilient, low-carbon development, including Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.
But this pursuit of sustainable and eco-friendly solutions must not end at the energy source. It must extend to some of the electronic goods that are used on the continent. If the continent is going to produce its energy in ways that have the least environmental impact and result in reduced carbon emissions, it will have a tremendous impact on the African environment. But the benefits would obviously increase if the devices sold and used on the continent are also environmentally conscious: if they help in energy conservation and are recyclable, for instance.
It is for this reason that manufacturers like LG must be lauded for producing environmentally conscious appliances and making them available all over the world, including in Africa. For instance, the firm has developed a wide shelf of washing machines that offer both performance and energy efficiency. There is the LG Eco-Hybrid that is known for its high levels of efficiency that has seen it achieve ETA (Emerging Technology Award) certification, a rare feat in its category. Its inbuilt pump technology recycles heat to save up to 53 percent more energy than typical dryers.
There is also the Inverter Linear Compressor-driven 6 Motion Direct Drive washing machines that have achieved unparalleled environmental ratings. With an annual energy consumption of only 117kWh, LG’s 6 Motion Direct Drive is the most efficient washing machine in the world. Its energy usage figures make it 40 percent more efficient than is required for the EU’s A+++ grade, the highest level of certification given to home appliances. From its construction to eventual disposal, the 6 Motion Direct Drive creates minimal ecological impact over its lifespan. Compared to conventional models, the 6 Motion Direct Drive reduces acidification by nine percent, resource depletion by 23 percent, greenhouse gas emissions by 12 percent and ozone-depleting substances by 34 percent.