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How Can India and Africa Compete, Collaborate and Co-create the Future on Environmental Issues?

Michael Adubofour


The World has changed. Humanity has seen and gone through a lot in the past Century. We have had two Major and a few minor wars that has affected us positively as well as negatively. We have seen eras of Great investors, scientists, Politicians, Activists and businessmen who have all shaped our lives in many ways; Investors like the American Thomas Edison, whose many inventions has greatly influenced life around the world.

Businessmen and industrialists like Henry Ford, well-known for introducing the “Model T” Automobile that modernized America and the world’s transportation industry. Noble and Charismatic leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, who’s non-violent struggle for civil rights and Independence sparked a member (Dr. Martin Luther King) of an ethnic minority in the Western world to do the same for his people.

Technology too has advanced through out the years, it has closed time and space among humans and has set new platforms of doing so many things which were not conceivable to man. It has contributed extensively to the way we do business, communicate and in all sorts of human interactions. Information is not that restricted anymore and the information Superhighway is much accessible to almost anybody than ever before. A lot of Countries (developing ones) have very much benefited from this Surge. Countries like India, China and Brazil are no exception.

India has over the years left a trail of massive successes when it comes to Technology and growing its economy to name a few. Among a number of Countries who gained it’s independence from the British in the late and mid 50’s, India’s GDP as of 2011 was an estimated $4,450 trillion dollars (total) according to Wikipedia.org. Well-known to be the world’s second-most populous Country with over 1.2 billion people, India’s economy has grown massively over the years.

The Country rank 51st in Global Competitiveness and it is sighted as the second-most Favourable outsourcing destination after the United States of America. Though India has seen and still faces certain economic and social Challenges, Economists believe strongly that India is going to continue its steady economic growth and it’s expected to grow a little further by 2015.

The Country’s Information Technology industry is one of the most promising in the world. It has led to substantial growth in India’s service sector contributing to their GDP growth, Employment and exports. The growth in the Information Technology sector in India has led to employment creation. According to Wikipedia.org, Direct employment in the I.T services and BPO/ITES sector was 2.2 million in 2009- 10 and was anticipated to reach nearly 2.6 million by the end of the fiscal year 2010- 11.

Indirect employment of over 8 million job opportunities is also expected to be created due to this growth in 2010- 11. India’s steady rise in the Information epoch has prompted the European Union and the United States to form closer ties with the Country. Sources say that America’s technological growth was quarterly driven by brilliant immigrants many of whom came from India. These highly trained Indian migrant’s enormous contributions in almost every area of American technological and scientific sectors led to the information technology rise mostly connected with California’s Silicon Valley in the 1980s and 1990s.India is definitely on the right path to becoming a worldwide competitor no doubt about that.

The African Continent too is also gaining ground in the Global arena. Africa has been weighed down with a lot of Challenges over the years; A lot of Countries on the Continent were occupied by the British, the French and the Portuguese just a Century ago, a lot of Coup d’états sprung up after some of the Countries gain their independence. the history of the Continent is a bit dark and the Media has not been a bit fair on its coverage on issues concerning African Politics, its economy, Health, Security, Peace etc. this has painted a certain Image about the Continent, overshadowing it’s vast positive and upbeat possibilities. This though, has not stopped the citizens of the Continent for not contributing their quota to the world.

Africa has produced a lot in terms of great leadership for the past 60 years, leaders like Nelson Mandela who is noted all over the world for his enormous contribution in the fight against Apartheid in his native Country South Africa and how he was able to bring together his citizens after they gain Independence in the early 90’s. Leaders like Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who was voted by BBC, as the most visionary African of the Century for his offerings on aiding a lot of African states to gain independence from their respective Colonial masters and his strong advocacy for African Unity.

Great poets like Wole Soyinka for his prolific poetic skills in challenging the powers that be in his native Country Nigeria against Corruption, ethnic divisions, etc. Great leaders like the former United Nation’s Secretary General Kofi Anan who, I need not say more has done a lot in terms of Global stability and helped put an end to a lot of Conflicts that plagued the world during his time in office.

He is currently serving as a United Nation’s Special Envoy to the Middle East helping to put an end to the Uprising in Syria. The African Continent is also known for its rich natural resources and beautiful landscape. Most of the world’s precious Commodities can be found on the Continent. Most economists argue that if it wasn’t for the Continent, the world’s recent Financial Meltdown would have been very catastrophic. Economists continue to stress that since most African States are still developing, the economic rise of the Continent will be very beneficial to the world in case of any future Financial Crisis.

The Continent scored big time when South Africa gained the rights to host the FIFA 2010 world Cup. A lot of Africans were filled with pride and there was great joy all over the Continent. The Information and Communication Technology industry too is growing rapidly in Africa. This has brought in a lot of investment from Companies like MTN, Bharti Airtel, etc. to be a part of this rush forward. The ICT industry has empowered Africans to become more vocal about the problems facing the Continent without indignity and doubts. The advance of ICT in Africa has prompted the Media outlets in Africa to take matters into their own hands concerning how the Continent is covered to the rest of the world.

Because of ICT, African states have seen the need to collaborate in harmony concerning global issues like the Environment. Environmental degradation is one of the challenges the Continent faces. It is the major casual agent in making Famines and droughts. According to Wikipedia.org, the Horn of Africa has faced an astonishing rate of environmental degradation, which has led to famines, enormous social and economic dislocations and a lot of resource-based differences. The Continent over the last half a Century, Scientists say, that the region’s temperature has shown a rising tendency while rainfall has had a declining trend.

Overturning the degradation process is not going to be easy or quick. The restorative process necessitates political dedication by the States involved. African states must reorient their development policies and this requires that all the stakeholders involved step up their recuperative policies and stay committed to them diligently.

A country like India is also faced with a lot of environmental issues as well. According to Wikipedia.org, India’s environmental issues keeps on becoming grim due to the recent boom in its Industries and Upscale human activities. Because of the Industrial boom that hit the nation a decade ago, the main problem is the inappropriate dumping of industrial waste like chemicals, etc. Another problem is refuse, India’s litter problem is said to have escalated for the past decade and will continue to rise to 3% by 2015.

India’s environmental issues are vast; Air and water pollution and wildlife habitat pollution to name a few. Even though the Country is faced with all these environ Challenges, environmental evaluation and data compilation expects, states that between 1996 and 2010, India has made one of the best improvements in the world in addressing its environmental issues and improving its environmental superiority, like they have it in the developed Countries.

This is what the African Continent should pay attention to, the Continent needs to partner its self with Countries that are working tirelessly and effectively to address its environmental problems. India’s relationship with Africa has improved over the years, Africa-India relations goes way back to the eight Century BCE according to Wikipedia.org. Politically, India and some African states (Nigeria, Ghana, etc) were both colonized by the British Empire and during the fight for Independence, both India and African countries relations became stronger

On the Business aspects of things, a lot of Indian companies are investing into Africa. According to Wikipedia.org, In June 2008, Bharti Airtel an Indian communication giant purchased Zain Africa for US$10 billion. The Special relationship between India and Africa strengthen at the India-Africa Forum Summit held in April 2008 at New Delhi. The Ghana Investment Promotion Council, an institution in Ghana, West-Africa recently stated that India has the highest new large Projects in the Country.

India-Africa collaboration, co-creation and competition in a positive way on Environmental issues are attainable and will be very beneficial to both parties in the long run. Let’s look at some of the ways Africa-India relations can help solve pressing environmental issues;


Global Warming

Global warming is an environmental issue that is faced by both African Countries and India. Larger populations from both Countries depend on fossil fuels like Coal, Gasoline, firewood, etc. for both domestic and commercial purposes. Burning of such fuels raises the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and carbon dioxide is the key contributor to global warming and the green house effect.

India and Africa can collaborate to lessen the demand for these fossil fuels in their various countries which in turn will help reduce global warming.

 

1.Regular workshops, summits and seminars

Both African and Indian Energy institutions should make it a point to regularly interact and discuss best ways both parties can combat global warming and climate change. There should be a collaborative effort to educate and get the message across to those living in Poverty in both India and Africa about the use of fossil fuels and how it’s damaging the environment. For example; we can organize free seminars in various African Countries to educate people on how unsustainable firewood and Charcoal harvesting can lead to erosion and loss of biodiversity due to loss of forest swathe. Using pictures and electronic illustrations, we can pitch to them physical evidence of how their activities has negatively affected their region, how it has contributed to the loss of vegetation over the years and how its going to continue to get worse if renewal and more clean practices are not adapted.


2.Renewable Energy Technology       

African and Indian Engineers, Scientists, etc  can also make it a point to meet regularly to discuss and co-create ideas, assumptions and if possible, inventions of cheaper and cleaner energy sources. For example, Africa is a Continent that has the Sun in Abundance; we must stress the need for a Solar powered Energy Revolution across the entire Continent and how Africans will very much benefit from it. We must bring to bear the advantages that, access to renewable energy is crucial for the reduction of poverty and how its supports economic growth. According to Wikipedia.org, Many African Countries receive on average 325 days per year of bright sunlight and this gives the potential to bring energy to virtually any location in Africa without the need for costly large scale grid level infrastructural development.

Some argue that renewable energy is and will remain expensive for people who are living on less than a US$1 a day. We must not let this discourage the Africa-India collaborative effort to bring to reality the Renewable Powered energy revolution For example; Solar Energy.


3. Conservation Exercises

Preservation exercises are something that has been preached over and over again through out the years. As the population of developing areas, especially near rainforests, increases, the need for land for farming becomes more and more important. To certain interests, a forest has no value when its resources aren’t used, so the reasons to deforest these areas outweigh the incentives to conserve the forest. Because of this, deforestation has become so widespread that it has made quite a negative impact on the environment leading to global warming.

Because of this, Africa and India must join forces and aggressively make our voices heard to encourage people in our regions to use the forest in a more protractible way. Both parties must encourage Reforestation to make up for the damage deforestation has done. Leaders can come out with packages that will motivate people to minimize the removal of trees to preserve the habitat for a lot of animals. People must get the message that if they have the means to plant a tree, they should do so. They must understand that carbon dioxide is what most plants absorb to give off oxygen and that a single tree will absorb just about a ton of carbon dioxide before it dies.


4.Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Recycling as we all know is the act of turning anything old or used in something new that can be used. Recycling has been going on for years. Recycling of glass, paper, aluminum, plastic and green waste is something that is not new. Recycling is one of the best solutions to a sustainable future. The benefits of recycling our waste products are many to the environment, Bad littering practices can be reduced drastically because of recycling. Recycling products like paper means the fewer trees needs to be cut down to meet the demand for paper all over the world. African nations can join forces with India to continue to hammer home, the importance of Recycling to their citizens. As its being done in the developed economies, the Media can be used to educate the public about the positive effects of Recycling and how the Youth and unemployed can capitalize on this to make a living.


Environmental Degradation

According to Wikipedia.org, the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources like water, soil, air, destruction of habitat, wildlife extinction, and the destruction of ecosystems. Once again human activity is the main cause of the degradation of the environment. As the Human Population keeps on rising, the pressure on the use of resources increases. An increased population means increase withdrawals from water and other natural resources for domestic, agricultural, and industrial purposes. 70% of population increase over the last two decades reports say, happened in developing countries.

Since most developing nations are into agriculture, the demand for water for irrigation purposes has affected the world’s water supply drastically. The world’s water supply is gradually depleting, access to fresh water is becoming a problem due to human industrial activities. According to Wikipedia.org, Approximately only 2% of all the water in the world is fresh water, with the rest being salt water. 70% of the fresh water is frozen in ice caps located in Greenland and Antarctica. So this means that only 30% of the 2% of fresh water is available for use.

We in the developing world are already suffering from fresh water shortage because we lack the necessary infrastructure to purify and use water from rivers and other water bodies, reports say that, One in three people in the developing world has no access to quality or fresh drinking water. People in the developing world are very much agents and victims of environmental degradation since we live off the limited resources we find around us, in an example rural women in developing countries play a major role in –on and off-farm activities and since they have to feed their families, they are often involved in harvesting the already limited resources like water and wood for household consumption.

Environmental degradation is a major issue that needs attending to. African nations and India’s collaborative and co-creative efforts is very much required to help address the problem.


Promoting Awareness and Conservation

Promoting Awareness to our people is essential and can be very effective if pursued right by both African nations and India. The Media is still an effective tool to shed light on this environmental issue. People must understand that their bad actions today is going to make things worse for the future generations. They understand that environmental degradation will lead to further poverty and food shortage. If the message is sent across, people in our various developing countries will see the need for innovative and new strategies to tackle the problem leading to sustainable environmental management, integrated with poverty alleviation initiatives that will address poverty in a way that will sustain the environment as well.

Major NGO’s from India and Africa can join forces and promote poverty eradication and environmental sustainability by coming out with new and exciting prospects for a joint action, as well as a creative field for testing and developing innovative partnerships to address these pressing issues in poor and rural areas.

Africa-India relation is essential because it will help both local actors in both Country and Continent become empowered leading to new opportunities which will also give them strength and support to overcome old constraints. Both parties can support where the other is weak; in Africa’s case, it’s the flow of relevant Information and quality Decision-making. India can assist Africa with its successes in ICT to create action-oriented partnerships among concerned groups for better targeting of the most pressing environmental issues.

 
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