Regional study on climate change, agricultural production, trade in agricultural commodities and food security in ECOWAS and EAC

Africa is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, especially in the key sector of agriculture that supports nearly 70 percent of its population. Most agricultural production in the continent is rain-fed (irrigated areas account for only 4 percent), thus highly vulnerable to the high variations and changes in rainfall patterns. Sub-Saharan African, for example, is expected to continue its poor production performance relative to population growth as a consequence of which its net imports of cereals (mainly wheat, rice and maize) were projected to double between 1997 and 2012 from 12.4 million tons to 29.2 million tons, without taking into account any climate change impacts. This implies that many countries will increasingly rely on food imports to feed their populations.

Although there are a growing number of studies analyzing how agricultural production and commodity markets need to be adjusted to promote interregional balance in agricultural production and food security in response to climate change. However, few of them have critically explored the potential adjustments in intra-regional trade flows in agricultural commodities as a response to changing climate.

Cognizant of the fundamental links between agriculture and poverty reduction in Africa and the dependence of agriculture on climate, ACPC has prioritized the agricultural sector as the major entry point in debates about adaptation to climate change.

To assist in building the capacity of African governments and institutions to benefit, as much as possible, from the opportunities climate change might offer in the agricultural sector, ACPC has initiated regional studies two regional studies to address the above stated challenges and meet its objectives principally as part of its knowledge generation process aimed at providing the empirical basis for policy recommendations.

The analytical work in this activity is conducted in parallel in the five countries of the East African Community (EAC) and 15 countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The studies are aimed at understanding the linkages between climate change, agricultural production, trade in agricultural commodities and food security. The activity has direct link with ClimDev-Africa programme of work stream II, which focuses on solid policy analysis for decision support. Specifically, the activities fall under output 8: Policy briefs on climate change, agricultural trade and regional integration in the two RECs.

The regional studies explore the impacts of climate variability and climate change on agricultural production in the regions, examine how regional trade policies influence food security and assess how the policies could be enhanced to promote agricultural production and intra-regional trade in food commodities for increased food security in response to the impacts of climate change.

Read more…


Prospect for Renewable Energy and Climate Change Mitigation.

The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that increased deployment of renewable energy and implementation of energy efficiency improvement measures are essential if the world is to keep on track to avoid catastrophic climate change. Many countries are currently formulating their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) as actions they propose to make on climate change mitigation / adaptation towards the new climate agreement in 2015. In addition to INDCs and various national sustainable development goals, some countries have, over the years, been formulating technology needs assessments (TNAs) that feed into their nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  A number of African countries have also defined National Action Plans under the framework of the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative, as well as renewable energy readiness assessments (RRA) in collaboration with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The prominence of renewable energy in these actions, coupled with Africa’s abundant renewable energy resources (hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, marine, and biomass) requires strategic assessment and planning to optimise renewable energy options in the African energy mix and attract the needed investments for their realisation.

Until recent years, the high upfront costs of renewable energy technologies was a severe barrier to sufficient deployment of renewables. Today, the capital costs of most renewable energy technologies, particularly solar PV and wind power have fallen dramatically. For example, the publication by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) on power generation costs in 2014 shows that over the last five years the cost of solar PV modules wind turbines have fallen by about 75% and 30%, respectively. These falling costs have resulted in higher deployment rates as the learning curve for renewables increases, leading to a virtuous cycle of falling costs and increased deployment. Consequently, power generation costs from renewable resources have become cheaper than from fossil fuel sources in some parts of the world, depending on location and resource potential. Since 2012 over half of the global power generation capacity additions have been from renewable sources, driven by the falling technology prices. Declining costs and wide availability of renewable energy resources across Africa, together with their relative speed of deployment mean that accelerated deployment of renewables in the continent stands to contribute substantially to climate change mitigation through global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. In so doing African countries have the opportunity now to leapfrog low-carbon energy technology deployment and adoption, achieve energy access in grid-connected and off-grid areas, while creating green jobs and spillover socio-economic benefits through localisation of the renewable energy deployment value chain.

However, countries need to have in place the right policies, incentives and regulatory frameworks to attract the investment needed for the accelerated deployment of renewables and energy efficiency measures, as well as have the institutional and sectoral capacities for mainstreaming low-carbon development into national strategies.