By Andrea D. Steffen
An industrial revolution is inevitable for the African continent. Its economy and population have surged, both factors which will require the need for power. Now, the path Africans decide to take from this point on will make the difference between saving millions of lives or causing millions of deaths. It all depends on if they choose renewables or fossil fuels at this turning point in the continent.
A study by researchers from the University of Leicester and Harvard University found that if Africa chooses to be powered by fossil fuels, almost 50,000 people could die prematurely every year from fossil fuel emissions by 2030. The countries that will be affected the most by such an unfortunate ill choosing are South Africa, Nigeria, and Malawi. The research has been published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
Senior author of the paper Eloise Marais, Associate Professor at the University of Leicester, and a graduate student of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) said:
“Our work shows the substantial health benefit of shifting to clean energy sources in Africa, which we hope can help incentivize the transition towards renewable energy over fossil fuels.“
Africa is so lucky to be at the cusp of an industrial revolution now that renewables are cheaper and more efficient than ever. Will they take advantage of this and go green, bypassing the dependence of fossil fuels altogether? Will they take the unique opportunity to harness their abundant renewable sources like wind, solar, and geothermal to avoid poisoning the air they breathe? We can only hope so! Europe, America, China, and India are suffering the consequences of fossil fuels. Africa can avoid going down the same dark road if they choose wisely now.