The degradation of the ecosystem costs Africa 68 billion US dollars (Kshs. 6,800,000,000,000) annually. Africa also loses up to 6.6 million tonnes of potential grain harvest capable of meeting the calorific needs of up to 31 million people.
The shocking revelations have been made by the African Office of the United Nations Environment at UNEP, Gilgil.
In a press release made through the head of communication Mr. Mohamed Atani, the organization also reveals that Africa further loses an estimated 48 billion US dollars in post-harvest losses.
Mr. Atani adds that all is not lost however as Africa holds a great potential of pulling herself out of poverty and providing solutions to its myriad of challenges.
“The environment has high potential in providing solutions to sustainable socio-economic development and poverty alleviation in Africa,” he says adding that Africa holds 30 per cent of the world’s mineral reserves and that roughly 65 per cent of arable land is to be found in Africa.
“In addition, 10 per cent of the world’s internal renewable energy sources are in Africa,” adds Mr. Atani.
Other resources mentioned in the report are African fisheries that are estimated to be worth 24 billion USD in addition to the continent being host the second largest tropical forest in the world.
The press release by UN Environment came as the seventh special session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), kicked off today Monday at UNEP headquarters in Gigiri. This year’s theme is “Turning Environmental Policies into Action through Innovative Solutions.”
“The need to invest in innovative solutions and interventions by promoting sustainable consumption and production will top the African Ministers of the Environment’s agenda,” reveals the head of communication.
AMCEM will also look at how to enhance the political will to address the challenges of environmental degradation and to increase investments in innovative solutions to sustainably maximize on the benefit from the continent’s abundant natural resources.
Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo the regional director for Africa, UN Environment says that Africa should focus on making a paradigm shift through practical innovative actions so that we can benefit at the maximum levels.
“We have made strides through AMCEN by taking policy reform directions to promote and strengthen innovative and environmentally sound actions that can ensure sustainable use of Africa’s natural capital,” she adds.
The AMCEN workshop comes to an end on Wednesday but there will be a joint press conference on Thursday from UNEP and NEPAD.