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What is Africa doing wrong in terms of environmental sustainability?

What is Africa doing wrong in terms of environmental sustainability?

By Peter Makwanya

JUDGING on current discourses on environmental sustainability in the broad framework of sustainable developmental, sometimes it is quite baffling that all odds seem to be against the African continent. All the inadequacies, drawbacks, and all other negatives point to Africa’s inability and inability to recover and rebuild itself.

What is it about Africa that other continents cannot do? What is Africa capable and capable of that cannot be recognized and appreciated within the global community? Africa has been at crossroads since its inception. This has led to it falling prey to allusions, alarmism and assumptions.

Too many lectures and teachings have led to the African continent becoming a victim. These have led to Africa’s development paradigms and tonics being purely prescriptive, blindfolded, and unnecessarily governed. There was a time when Africa’s landscapes were intact, well-nurtured, and uncorrupted. They met in Berlin, and they began to parcel each other’s portions of the virgin lands. The environment was deforested, degraded and poisoned. They then looted the remaining shells, which were just waiting to fall apart. The piper is the one who plays the tune, sets the tone, sets the benchmarks and determines the outcomes. There are many other examples, and it is a vicious cycle that creates confusion and leads to more confusion.

Africa’s lackluster progress and growth has been evident from time immemorial. It is regrettable that, while African resources are plucked to build castles and other modern-day infrastructures, the continent’s source of wealth remains hollow, shallow, depreciating. Judging by the current state of the continent, the negative reports and all vices, those who are close to Africa always wonder what kinda human being they are.

Are the Africans so reckless and careless that they always score their own goals? Everything bad and backward is measured by Africa. While we can blame the colonizers of the past for making our environments worse, increasing carbon emissions and polluting our planet, the African chiefs who sold their people as slaves were the ones responsible. Our modern rulers are busy pawning natural resources to the Chinese and Russians for a buck. Sub Saharan Africa appears to be a cursed, clueless, and without any readily available plans to lift nations out of poverty, economic quagmire, and virtual incompetence. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Africa to improve its intelligence and impress, tame hunger, and to get out of poverty.

All climate-related problems that have been affecting the continent seem to have a permanent home on the African continent. Sometimes, the blame is shifted to the Africans. Any development-oriented dosage for the African continent seems to have its genesis in lands far away. These think tanks are the originators, tutors, and tutors of any kind, who set the pace, while Africans follow their lead. All funding and research geared towards development have keys and funds in developed countries. However, most of these people have never visited Africa. Yet, they continue to research, write, judge and pass judgements that are often out of context with what is happening in Africa. Africa has never seen improvement since the beginning of these lectures and teachings, gospels, and prescriptions, almost two centuries ago. Africa is still the dull student of the world, the concern case, the caricature, and the remedial pupil.

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Many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have created projects and what they called development ideas. Sometimes, they had to abandon them because they were not in touch with the people’s fundamental structural and procedural needs.

There are currently some African countries that have more NGOs than local companies and industries. These countries are considered darlings of Africa. These NGOs determine the budgets of these countries, but they still suffer poverty despite all the pampering.

Africa is always at the losing end, regardless of the efforts they make, especially in the areas of environmental protection, food insecurity and water scarcities, as well as human rights abuses. Some African countries used to supply food, flowers, and other accessories to developed nations years ago when they were still considered good boys. But when they tried to regain what was their birth right, all hell broke out and they were made to suffer on all fronts. As the centre couldn’t hold, agricultural production fell and bright minds moved to every corner of this planet.

  • Peter Makwanya works as a climate change communicator. He writes in his own capacity. You can reach him at

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