Not a day goes by without coming across stories on the impact climate change has on Africa and the globe, or catchphrases like climate action, green jobs, green economy, which have been trending social media platforms. While countries in Africa continue to recover from the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, talks on transition to green economy have arisen seeing that climate change has been at its peak recently.
Some analysts have pointed out that having a decarbonized economy not only means positive climate action, but also is a key driver of economic growth with the potential to create millions of green jobs. Days to writing this piece at my desk in Nairobi, I decided to take a stroll into one of the neighborhoods to see if people understood what green jobs and the green economy really is. Well, many had little to no-knowledge about it. What I continue to wonder is whether Africa is ready for the transition to everything ‘green’ seeing there’s a gap between knowledge and policies.
“Basically green jobs are jobs that are linked to industries that are focused on creating a sort of greener future that is a cleaner, less fossil fuel dependent and is better for the climate change future, that can be invested in to win the catastrophe that is global warming” says Maudo Jallow, an economic consultant at Boston Consulting Group.
The definition of green jobs vary, it is safe to say these are jobs that preserve, protect and restore the environment. But let’s not forget that they increase efficient consumption of energy and raw materials by limiting greenhouse gas emissions, minimizing waste and contamination, according to International Labour Organization
Transition to the green economy is set to create new economic opportunities, jobs and enhance growth to the already existing ones. One of the projections by International Labour Organisation is that 24 million new jobs will be created worldwide just by the changes necessary to hold global warming to 2° C. Where then does Africa lie in all this, and do we have the right investment to smoothen the transition?
“No, as a continent we don’t have the right policies yet. We don’t really have the right sort of infrastructure that will bring in an investment around green industry.” “I focus my argument a lot on investment because nothing really happens in this space without massive investment. Hundreds of billions of dollars are being pumped into creating new sectors and new industries that are greener by countries like China and USA which is currently lacking in Africa,” reteirates Maudo.
Scrolling through internet land, it’s clear that adapting to the best technologies and partnering with the private sector will create more green jobs.
“The private sector has an incredibly important role. The difficulty lies in convincing the private sector that is in their interest to invest in this inevitable transition. Creating awareness of why there is need to adopt green economy from both the government and the wider community will go a long way in strengthening and convincing the private sector” says Maudo
In my conversation with Jallow I ask him which sectors have the biggest potential in creating a lot of employment opportunities once the green economy is fully adopted, and his answer was quite enlightening. “I think the biggest job creators in the future will be tech, telecom and energy. However if Africa is able to build out sustainable industries and sustainable manufacturing it will really create the most amount of jobs in the future,” he affirms.
What sits with me after this sit down is how Africa has such a huge potential in its transition to the green economy all that is needed for its success is the right policies and investment moving forward.