Supply Chain Decarbonization: What Corporations Must Consider


New research published earlier this year shows how tackling supply chain emissions can be a game-changer in the worldwide battle against climate change. Net-Zero Challenge: The Supply Chain Opportunity from the World Economic Forum and the Boston Consulting Group looks at the top eight worldwide supply chains that produce more than 50% of global greenhouse (GHG) emissions. They find that several corporations can multiply their climate impact by focusing on supply chain decarbonization.

Source: WEF

On the other hand, even leading corporations struggle to set clear goals and standards for their suppliers and get the data they need.

How best can corporations build a meaningful pathway to deep decarbonization within their supply chains?

In this article, the GHG emissions management experts at SINAI explain what corporations should consider when getting to grips with supply chain emissions. We present practical and scalable ways in which corporations can achieve deep decarbonization, from setting a carbon baseline to automating data collection throughout your corporation’s supply chain.

Slowing down climate change 

The Paris agreement is a legally binding global treaty on climate change aiming to slow down climate change. Unfortunately, current pledges do not go far enough. Many agree that to hit the targets set, deep decarbonization is needed, particularly in global supply chains across a variety of industries.

What is decarbonization? 

The term “decarbonization” is used to represent the process of reducing and removing the carbon dioxide, or CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent, meaning, all 7 greenhouse gases included), output from a country’s economy. The most common way this is done is by decreasing the amount of CO2e released from active industries within each economy – including but not limited to utilities, transportation, consumer goods, construction, and materials.

A robust picture of emissions 

The first step every corporation should take to get a handle on supply chain emissions is to gain a complete view of what those emissions are. The GHG Protocol’s Scope 3 Standard provides corporations with a methodology that can be used to account for and report carbon emissions from companies of all sectors, worldwide.

Corporations should consider building a detailed view of emissions with supplier-specific data to set ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions. You can take control of your supply chain’s carbon emissions by performing a carbon inventory.

You should be able to compare emissions sources and resource consumption together with quickly identifying trends and patterns. Ensure you can aggregate, sort, and filter your emissions data to manage risk better and help/support suppliers to find deep decarbonization opportunities.

A detailed carbon baseline

Corporations should consider exploring historical activity data to project emissions as their business grows and changes, creating forecast baselines they can use to monitor progress.

Establishing a comprehensive emissions baseline for your corporation is vital. Baselines are built according to business growth, and you can combine these with supply chain emissions with different levels of detail, to generate multiple baselines according to additional premises. Use granular data to analyze suppliers that contribute the most significant emissions.

Emerging software can help corporations easily match procurement data with environmentally extended input/output factors, building a high-level picture of their supply chain’s overall carbon footprint. Corporations can also leverage predictive analytics on resource consumption and emissions trends to gain better insight and business intelligence.

Automated GHG inventories  

Corporations should consider engaging diverse partners in their supply chain in a meaningful way, assisting them in a value-based exchange of emissions data.

Work towards a flexible data collection process to move away from generic data sources and create custom emissions factors that you can track with ease.

Collaboration is crucial, and we know supply chain emissions data can be messy. By automating data collection, corporations can consolidate, analyze and organize data from various sources quickly and easily, leading to more accountable reporting and better decision making.

Smarter carbon emissions strategies 

Corporations should look to optimize their carbon emissions strategy through scenario and sensitivity analysis and enhanced risk management for deep supply chain decarbonization.

Intelligent, data-driven scenario analysis can future-proof your corporation and your supply chain, with a heightened understanding of your projected deep decarbonization pathways.

Accurate and precise data can show which assets of the corporation are most at risk. Explore any reduction opportunities that exist and what cost-positive opportunities may be worth investing in, in the long-term. Suppliers that go over the same type of analysis, will ultimately reduce their scope 1 and 2, which will reflect back to their buyers’ scope 3. The overall approach helps everyone in the supply chain to reduce emissions, with their own individual definition of success.

Technology to help your organization to remain accountable 

Front runners in several global industries are using innovative and cutting-edge technology to better manage their supply chain’s journey to deep decarbonization. They have a complete view of carbon emissions throughout their supply chain and baseline definitions in place, reviewing more granular data of those with the highest emissions. They are working towards deep decarbonization through automated carbon inventories from suppliers and following carbon emissions strategies, backed by data.

SINAI’s GHG emissions management solution can help you achieve supply chain decarbonization. Our software provides a seamless way to measure, analyze, price, and reduce emissions. Supply chain carbon management doesn’t have to be difficult, with the right solution that’s customizable to your corporation’s unique needs, you can move closer to net-zero.

To see SINAI in action, reach out for a demo today. This article originally appeared at SINAI

Earth Hour 2021: New Deal for Nature and People Coalition Advocacy

Earth Hour 2021: New Deal for Nature and People Coalition Advocacy

WWF’s report called Living Planet, released in October 2018, showed that globally, nature continues to degrade with devastating consequences for species and the planet. The global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles decreased by 60% on average from 1970 and 2014. This is also true for the fauna and flora species of the Virunga National Park (PNVi) and of Salonga National Park, all declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and whose oil exploitation in these two protected areas would lead to the disappearance of ecosystems of incomparable flora and fauna, of exceptional economic value. Lake Edward, which once had 30,000 hippos in 1974, now numbers more than 300 hippos due to oil exploitation by several companies such as SOCO.

Just like during Earth Day, on this day of April 22, 2021 dedicated to Earth Hour, the organizations of the coalition on the New Pact for Nature and People led by the African Network of Young platform Leaders for Peace and Sustainable Development , strengthen advocacy for climate action, preservation and restoration of ecosystems. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, member organizations of the African Network of Young Leaders for Peace and Sustainable Development are increasing synergies to further address the issues of degradation of national parks and aquatic ecosystems through advocacy with local and national authorities. and polluting companies.

The object of the action is clear: their involvement in reversing the trend of the decrease in animal and plant species in Virunga and Solanga by promoting renewable energies as a source of sustainable socioeconomic development as opposed to the exploitation of fossil fuels in these protected areas.
Heure de la terre 2021 : Plaidoyer de la Coalition sur le Nouveau Pacte pour la Nature et les Personnes.

Le rapport de WWF appelé Planète Vivante, publié en octobre 2018, a montré qu’au niveau mondial, la nature continue à se dégrader avec les conséquences dévastatrices pour les espèces et la planète. Les populations mondiales des poissons, d’oiseaux, des mammifères, d’amphibiens et des reptiles ont diminué de 60% en moyenne de 1970 et 2014. Cela est aussi vrais pour les espèces fauniques et floristiques du Parc National des Virunga (PNVi) et du Parc National de Salonga, tous déclaré site du Patrimoine Mondiale de l’UNESCO et dont
l’exploitation du pétrole dans ces deux aires protégées conduirait à la disparition
d’écosystèmes de faune et de flore incomparable, d’une valeur économique exceptionnelle. Le lac Édouard qui autrefois comptait en 1974, 30 000 hippopotames, aujourd’hui ne dénombre plutôt que 300 hippopotames à cause de l’exploitation pétrolière par plusieurs entreprises telles que SOCO.

Tout comme au cours de la journée de la Terre, en cette journée du 22 avril 2021 consacrée à l’Heure de la Terre, les organisations de la coalition sur le Nouveau Pacte pour la Nature et les Personnes conduite par la plateforme African Network of Young Leaders for Peace and Sustainable Development , renforcent des plaidoyers pour l’action climatique, la sauvegarde et la restauration des écosystèmes. En République Démocratique du Congo, les organisations membres de African Network of Young Leaders for Peace and Sustainable Development multiplient des synergies pour davantage adresser les questions de dégradation des parc nationaux et écosystèmes aquatiques à travers des plaidoyers effectués à l’égard des autorités locales et nationales et des compagnies polluantes.

L’objet de l’action est clair : leur implication pour inverser la tendance de la diminution des espèces animales et végétales dans le Virunga et la solanga par la promotion des énergies renouvelables en tant que source de développement socioéconomique durable contrairement à l’exploitation des énergies fossiles dans ces aires protégées.

African youth and civil society Position Paper: Post 2020 Biodiversity Framework, October 13, 2020

The humanity is causing a catastrophic loss of species and exacerbating already dangerous levels of climate change. Over the past two decades, the number of endangered species and the rate of ecosystem degradation have increased dramatically across all regions. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) noted that approximately 1 million plants and animal species are now at risk of extinction. Climate change is adding to and worsening the impact of biodiversity losses. Together climate change and biodiversity losses threaten the viability of crucial ecosystems in many regions of the world. The main drivers threatening biodiversity and our life support systems are: (1) changes in land and sea use including through the expansion of agriculture; (2) direct exploitation of living creatures, such as overfishing; (3) climate change; (4) pollution and (5) invasive alien species. These are underpinned by more indirect drivers, such as increasing consumption and, critically, issues of governance and accountability. We rely on nature, half of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) depends on nature, and yet we are destroying and degrading natural systems at a rate much faster than they can replenish themselves. Nature is in crisis. The future of humanity depends on action now.” The COVID19 pandemic has highlighted the need for governments and the international community to focus more on health, environment, climate, land degradation and human security issues.
The current position paper is a consolidated document of several scientific works performed by African Network of Young leaders for Peace and Sustainable development and its platform including some relevant studies. It is enriched by children, youth and civil society organizations that have been involved during the regional Leading the Change Regional Webinar entitled African Youth and Civil Society Green growth Hub: From the pandemic to Agenda 2030, Mobilized for Change. And the subsequent working session and activities organized by ANYL4PSD from September 28 to October 03, 2020 with the support of Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF). As part of the New Deal for Nature and People Coalition led by African Network of Young Leaders for Peace and Sustainable Development (ANYL4PSD), African Youth and Civil Society organizations as well as others youth organizations situated in others continents and belonging to the platform welcome the Draft of the post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. African Youth and Civil Society strongly support the structure of five high levels 2030-2050 Goals, consistent with the three objectives of the Convention and its definition of biodiversity and the theory of change as presented should be strengthened. Youth and Civil Society believe that
o The framework must be a comprehensive and transformational package that clearly articulates both (1) where we need to be (mission, goals, targets) to halt and start to reverse the loss of biodiversity by 2030 and (2) how to ensure that we get there (implementation):

  • The plan must aspire to halt and start to reverse the loss of biodiversity, putting nature on the path to recovery by 2030, transitioning to a nature-positive world. This is ambitious, but necessary and doable if we want to stand a chance of achieving the CBD vision of living in harmony with nature by 2050.
  • The goals must focus on the key outcomes that need to be achieved by 2030, including goals to: halt habitat loss and restore natural habitats and ecosystems – protecting at least 30% and sustainably managing the rest, stop human-induced species extinctions, halve the footprint of our production and consumption, and ensure that nature’s benefits to people are secured and shared fairly and equitably – applying a human rights-based approach and respecting the special role and relationship to nature held by Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
  •  2030 action targets must transform the sectors that drive biodiversity loss towards sustainable practices: Agriculture and food systems; forestry; fisheries; infrastructure; mining and extractives; other sectors with significant use of natural resources; the financial sector. For example, in order to avoid further negative impacts to biodiversity, public and private financial flows must be aligned with a mission to halt and start to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.
  • The ambitious global goals and targets need to be backed up by ambition to implement. Therefore there must be a regular cycle of transparent check-backs and reviews – requiring countries to ratchet up action if the implementation of global goals and targets is not on track. This can only be achieved if goals and targets are measurable.
  • Financial resources from all sources should be available to increase substantially from current levels to enable implementation of the framework, alongside the alignment of investments and subsidies so that these benefit nature rather than harming it. An increase in capacity building, technical and scientific cooperation, and technology transfer towards developing countries is also needed.
    Main actions and key recommendations towards the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework are as follows:
    1. Mainstreaming young people-championed elements from a gender perspective in the Post-2020 Framework focusing on intergenerational equity, human rights
    and the rights of nature, transformative education and the promotion of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.
    2. Develop an effective and robust mechanism of the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework based on transparency, accountability monitoring and reporting.
    3. Enable more synergies and alignment between the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework with other biodiversity-related multilateral agreements, processes and instruments (UNCCD, UNFCC; Ramsar; Future BBNJ, CITES…) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development so as to enable the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework systematically cross-maps its goals and targets and seeks to reinforce synergies in implementation and enabling conditions
    4. Greening the financial sector (economics of biodiversity) – integrating environmental issues to support the post 2020 implementation framework and enabling conditions for resilience and transformative change
    5. High level leadership and a whole-of-government approach mobilizing all the layers of the society including private sector and civil society.

Get the full document here:

African youth and civil society declaration and roadmap against covid19 and pandemics for a green growth recover in Africa and the world May 31, 2020 – Africa

Without healthy nature people will not survive. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for governments and the international community to focus more on health, environment, climate, land degradation and human security issues. African Network of Young Leaders for Peace and Sustainable Development (ANYL4PSD) has been engaged with several African youth and civil society organizations to fight against COVID19 and pandemics so as to build a common future for all life on Earth in the frame of the New Deal for Nature and People.
The current declaration is a consolidated document of several scientific works performed by African Network of Young leaders for Peace and Sustainable development and its platforms over COVID19 and its impacts. It is a document of position and roadmap enriched by children, youth and civil society organizations that have taken part and contributed to the regional online certified workshop and the subsequent working session and activities organized by ANYL4PSD from May 26 -31, 2020 with the support of Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF). Main actions and key recommendations are as follows:
1. Strengthen multilateralism: Develop a whole -of-society coordinated approach and accelerate implementation of the “New Way of Working” mobilizing all the stakeholders and taking into account all the layers and sectors (that no one is left behind) in the implementation of innovative measures at different levels
2. Ensure continued access to people in need in line with humanitarian principles and recommit to Disaster Risk Reduction to build Back Better
3. Increase funding to Children, Youth, and Civil Society Organizations/NGOs and adapt funding mechanisms to maximize flexible COVID-19 responses
4. Keep gender and vulnerable groups front and centre: Support to a youth, women and indigenous group led, localized response to COVID-19.
5. Strengthen investment and the implementation of One Health and EcoHeath through policy frameworks and initiatives aiming to restore ecosystem integrity indispensable for human health and development and to prevent and mitigate future pandemics
6. Strengthen partnerships for food security and agriculture monitoring and assessment for evidence based programming while increasing critical humanitarian food and livelihood assistance to the most vulnerable
7. Accelerate and enlarge the contribution worldwide of sustainable energy strategies, technologies, and applications for the purpose of achieving a sustainable quality of life for all
8. Durably implement the UN Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire – Disinvest in nuclear and military weapons to invest in sustainable development goals for present and next generation.
We intend to widely share, implement and follow the implementation of this policy framework during and beyond the African Youth Resilience Initiatives Against COVID19 and Pandemics project.
We commend those in many corners of the world who are heeding the UN Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire. We express our heartfelt gratitude to the diverse populations especially children, youth, women and indigenous and vulnerable groups working and volunteering on the front lines as well as health care and other essential workers putting themselves at increased risk so that communities can continue to thrive.
We offer our condolences to the families of those who have already been lost to this illness, and our sympathies to those who have lost employment as a result. The effects of a pandemic are felt far more deeply than the illness itself, and we are hopeful that our governing institutions and communities are able to have responses that can mitigate the harm.
We call upon governments, local elected, traditional and religious leaders, social and traditional media, communities, private sector and other civil society organizations and NGO/INGO to take into account this declaration in their daily duties, act in lock-step with medical professionals and share information which prioritizes the health and wellbeing of people over economies and ensure that misinformation is not permitted to enter the popular discourse. Moreover, decisions taken by such leaders must be clear and evidence based in order to have the greatest impact.

Get the full Document here:

Call for applications: Open Dialogues on Climate Change

Hello everyone!  

The application to become an organizer of the Open Dialogues on Climate Change is still open! Join the global movement and help us make all voices heard!

Are you interested in becoming an Open Dialogue organizer but still need more information, more ideas or a team to join you? Express interest here:

  Do you already have a team of people who know what this project is about and have an idea for the event in your country? Apply here to become official organizers:

Submit you team application before 10 April 2021 to join the first group of applicants and get a response from us on 20 April. Enjoy all benefits of being part of a supportive international community with great plans and great energy!


Open Dialogues on Climate Change is an international project that aims to bring together different stakeholder groups to create a meaningful dialogue on the climate crisis. This will be done both on regional, national, and international levels with a final summative event at the COP26 in Glasgow.


We want to create a space and an opportunity for each region of the world to voice their concerns and possible solutions concerning climate action. To achieve this we plan on organizing the events through specialized regional groups that know their region on both national and local scale best and hence, know which stakeholders are crucial in such dialogue. The teams will be selected through an application process. We are planning to present the inputs gathered at those events at the COP26 in front of politicians as well as civil groups and NGOs.

For more information about the Open Dialogues on Climate Change (ODCC), please refer to the Guidelines for Organizers:   We also encourage you to follow us on Facebook: Instagram: And Linkedin:   If you still have any questions, proposals or concerns, please contact as at   We are looking forward to your applications!

Achieving mitigation and adaptation to climate change through sustainable agroforestry practices in Africa


Agroforestry is one of the most conspicuous land use systems across landscapes and agroecological zones in Africa. With food shortages and increased threats of climate change, interest in agroforestry is gathering for its potential to address various on-farm adaptation needs, and fulfill many roles in AFOLU-related mitigation pathways. Agroforestry provides assets and income from carbon, wood energy, improved soil fertility and enhancement of local climate conditions; it provides ecosystem services and reduces human impacts on natural forests. Most of these benefits have direct benefits for local adaptation while contributing to global efforts to control atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. This paper presents recent findings on how agroforestry as a sustainable practice helps to achieve both mitigation and adaptation objectives while remaining relevant to the livelihoods of the poor smallholder farmers in Africa

Scoping agroforestry for climate change

Low income countries mostly rely on agriculture for rural livelihoods and development. Nevertheless, agricultural systems in developing countries are adversely affected by land pressure and climate change, both of which threaten food production. Reduced productivity due to land degradation exacerbates the food deficit, despite the relative success of intensive agricultural systems that are promoted in many regions of the world. The various environmental impacts of agricultural intensification and food production, with negative impacts on soil and biodiversity, result in adverse feedbacks on climate, food security and on-farm income at local scale [1]. In addition, attempts to implement a ‘green revolution’ model in Africa using subsidies and inputs such as fertilizers have been costly and unsustainable, as technology cannot fully replace the services that trees would normally provide [2]. The current debate on sustainable intensification of agriculture underlines the importance of diversification as a way to improve crop and land management by integrating trees in land use systems [2–4]. There are many ways to achieve sustainable agricultural goals through the combination of increased yields with ecosystem services, but there few options where agroecosystem diversity and farm productivity are enhanced simultaneously. Some forms of agroforestry require low external inputs (pro-poor), have a high recycling rate, and good integration of trees, crops and animals, making them good candidate for achieving both sustainable livelihood and climate changes objectives

In most parts of Africa, climate change mitigation focusses on reforestation and forest protection. But such efforts to reduce tropical deforestation (often under the umbrella of REDD+) [6] conflict with the need to expand agricultural production in Africa to feed the continent’s growing population [7]. Agroforestry could be a win-win solution to the seemingly difficult choice between reforestation and agricultural land use, because it increases the storage of carbon and may also enhance agricultural productivity [8,9]. Some studies suggest that smallholder farmers in developing countries may combat climate change by reverting to more natural productive systems, which provide improved ecological and social functions [10], while meeting adaptation needs and building resilient agro-ecological systems that actively sequester carbon [11–14]. Currently, there is a growing interest in investing in agroforestry systems for these multiple benefits [15 ,16], and also as a set of innovative practices that strengthen the system’s ability to cope with adverse impacts of a changing climate [17]. Although the feasibility and benefits of agroforestry-based mitigation to smallholder farmers are currently under debate, common ground is found when evidence emerges that high production levels and economic values of agroforestry products may generate financial capital beyond subsistence levels alone, thereby aiding capital accumulation and reinvestment at the farm level [18,19]. Although the capacity of agroforestry to both raise carbon stocks and produce livelihood benefits has been well demonstrated, the research community needs to better understand the emerging challenge of assessing benefits from other ecosystem services beyond the symbolic value of carbon sequestration. A defining factor of African agriculture is the dominance of smallholder farmers with a strong priority on food security. Under such conditions, climate mitigation measures will need to demonstrate support for improved food production as well as climate adaptation benefits [14,20,21]. This synthesis presents the state of the art on the role of agroforestry in addressing both climate mitigation and adaptation in primarily food-focused production systems of Africa.

Agricultural performance under agroforestry systems

The steady decrease in soil fertility due to many drivers is a serious constraint for sustainable agriculture in Africa [22– 27]. Topsoil erosion is the most detrimental form of soil degradation and is likely to be aggravated by long-term removal of surface litter and crop residues. The shortage of mineral fertilizers and poor performance of current agricultural policies have directed discussions on food security towards sustainable agroforestry practices [27–29].

Agroforestry has potential to improve soil fertility. This is mainly based on the increase of soil organic matter and biological nitrogen fixation by leguminous trees. Trees on farms also facilitate tighter nutrient cycling than monoculture systems, and enrich the soil with nutrients and organic matter [30], while improving soil structural properties. Hence, through water tapping and prevention of nutrient leaching [10,31], trees help recover nutrients, conserve soil moisture and improve soil organic matter [32]

The potential of agroforestry to reduce the yield gap varies depending on the biophysical and human context. There are a number of successful agroforestry technologies, such as trees that improve soil, fast-growing trees for fuel wood, indigenous fruit trees to provide added nutrition and income, and trees that can provide medicinal plant products [33]. In practice, there is a need to differentiate between simple agroforestry systems (such as alley cropping, intercropping and hedgerow systems) and complex agroforestry systems that function like natural forest ecosystems but are integrated into agricultural Management systems [34,35]. The interest of investigating agroforestry in a changing climate comes from the potential of agroforestry practices to produce assets for farmers, combined with opportunities for climate change mitigation and potential to promote sustainable production that enhances agroecosystem diversity and resilience.

Agroforestry as a potential mitigation strategy

Cultivated lands have the potential to contribute significantly to climate change mitigation by improved cropping practices and greater numbers of trees on farms. The global estimated potential of all greenhouse gas (GHG) sequestration in agriculture ranges from 1500 to 4300 Mt CO2e yr1, with about 70% from developing countries; 90% of this potential lies in soil carbon restoration and avoided net soil carbon emission [20]. Tree densities in farming landscapes range from low cover of about 5% in the Sahel to more than 45% in humid tropical zones where cocoa, coffee and palm oil agroforestry systems prevail [36]. The cited study indicates that in sub Saharan Africa, 15% of farms have tree cover of at least 30%. This points to a high potential in Africa for sequestering carbon and reducing other agriculture related GHG emissions — particularly in farm land that currently has low tree cover — while maintaining the basic production systems. Performance of mitigation options in agroforestry will depend on the relative influence of tree species selection and management, soil characteristics, topography, rainfall, agricultural practices, priorities for food security, economic development options, among others. In order to improve carbon sequestration, or to reduce carbon emissions, several options are available (Table 1), but all are related to development needs of local communities.

These agroforestry practices are based on a variety of management approaches and have potential positive implications for climate change mitigation [42]. It has been shown that agroforestry systems have 3–4 times more biomass than traditional treeless cropping systems [20,43], and in Africa they constitute the third largest carbon sink after primary forests and long term fallows [35]. In addition, Zomer et al. [36] show that the area suitable for agroforestry worldwide is much larger with substantially greater potential than existing systems. In Africa, Unruh et al. [8] reported that a total of 1550 million ha are suitable for some type of agroforestry. There are many methods to estimate carbon sequestration in agroforestry systems; some of them are based on in situ measurements, but the application of different assumptions introduces large inconsistencies into available data [9]. Reported C stocks and C sequestration vary widely across agroforestry systems in Africa. Integrated land use practices, such as agro-silvo-pastoral systems, combine high C stocks with high C sequestration potentials. Table 2 shows the potential of various agroforestry systems for climate change mitigation.

In addition, agroforestry systems can meaningfully reduce the pressure on natural forests for energy needs. Some authors assume that higher consumption of tree products would motivate farmers to adopt agroforestry [54], in particular where fuel wood is diminishing. Development of agroforestry for sustainable fuel wood can contribute to energy substitution and becomes an important carbon offset option

Agroforestry and ecosystem resilience

Agroforestry systems comprise a long list of land management practices, including crop diversification, long rotation systems for soil conservation, home gardens, boundary plantings, perennial crops, hedgerow intercropping, live fences, improved fallows or mixed strata agroforestry [14,34,35,40,42,55–57]. If well managed (success hinges essentially upon proper implementation), agroforestry can play a crucial role in improving resilience to uncertain climates through microclimate buffering and regulation of water flow [15].

Management options in agroforestry include tree pruning, and measures to reduce below-ground competition, particularly for water [58], such that trees tap into deep ground water rather than top soil moisture that annual crops rely on. Growing attention is paid to the impact of agroforestry on microclimate control, and other favorable ecosystem functions. Agroforestry helps to conserve and protect natural resources by, for example, mitigating non-point source pollution (e.g. dust), controlling soil erosion and creating wildlife habitat [33]. It facilitates flexible responses to rapid shifts in ecological conditions, while at the same time maintaining or restoring soil and water resources

Microclimatic improvement through agroforestry has a major impact on crop performance as trees can buffer climatic extremes that affect crop growth. In particular, the shading effects of agroforestry trees can buffer temperature and atmospheric saturation deficit — reducing exposure to supra-optimal temperatures, under which physiological and developmental processes and yield become increasingly vulnerable [10]. Scattered trees in agroforestry farms can enhance the understory growth by reducing incident solar radiation, air and soil temperature, while improving water status, gas exchange and water use efficiency [31]. These scientific claims are based on few examples and need to be substantiated more in future research

Agroforestry contributes to ecosystem functions in water recycling by increased rainfall utilization compared to annual cropping systems. Lott et al. [60] reported that about 25% of the water transpired by trees is used during the dry season, indicating that they are able to utilize offseason rainfall (comprising 15–20% of the total annual rainfall) and residual soil water after the cropping period, with the rest being lost by evaporation (40%) or deep  drainage (33–40%). This complementarity between trees and annual crops extends possibilities of soil moisture uptake, hence making soil resource utilization more efficient than in pure monoculture [30,58]. Trials have been conducted to demonstrate that reduction of vegetation cover amplifies the decline of rainfall through positive feedbacks between precipitation and vegetation via reduced evapotranspiration and increased albedo [61]. Additionally, analysis of the water cycle addresses the importance of managing tree cover as part of the direct influences trees have on local and regional patterns of rainfall [62,63 ]. This highlights the potential of agroforestry to alleviate drought in Africa.

Adaptation-mitigation in agroforestry

Mitigating climate change starts with Better Ocean Data (Mitigating Climate Change: It Starts With Better Ocean Data ). For years (and we mean many years), the ocean helped us mitigate the early effects of human emissions by absorbing greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide and heat, from the atmosphere. As a result, more than 90 percent of the warming that happened on Earth between 1971 and 2010 occurred in the ocean ( A selfless act by Mother Nature, but it’s catching up to us.  Climate change, which describes long-term changes to temperature and typical weather, is accelerating at an alarming pace—and the impacts are hard to ignore.

Combining adaptation with mitigation has been recognized as a necessity in developing countries, particularly in the AFOLU (agriculture, forestry and other land use) sector. In reality, there is no dissociation between crop production and other ecosystem services from land use. Agroforestry in general may increase farm profitability through improvement and diversification of output per unit area of tree/crop/livestock, through protection against damaging effects of wind or water flow, and through new products added to the financial diversity and flexibility of the farming enterprise [33]. It can also substantially contribute to climate change mitigation [17,20,21].

The use of multipurpose trees and integrated approaches can enhance the profitability of agroforestry [15 ], for example, trees can be sources of fodder, which in turn is converted into valuable plant nutrients [14]. Trees on farms can provide wild edible fruits [39 ] and non-timber products that serve as alternative food during periods of deficit and primary sources of income for many rural communities [64]. Hence, a growing scientific challenge relates to the methods and tools to assess useful trees in various human-ecological contexts [15 ]. In most cases, benefits of agroforestry add up to a substantial improvement of the economic and resource sustainability of agriculture, while contributing to GHG sequestration. Agroforestry may nevertheless involve practices that raise GHG emissions, such as shifting cultivation, pasture maintenance by burning, nitrogen fertilization and animal production. In order to optimize agroforestry for adaptation and mitigation to climate change, there is a need for more integrated management to increase benefits and reduce negative impacts on climate

Conclusion and key messages

This paper shows how agroforestry systems readily bundle both mitigation and adaptation strategies and provide several pathways to securing food security for poor farmers, while contributing to climate change mitigation. Agroforestry should attract more attention in global agendas on mitigation because of its positive social and environmental impacts. However, adding trees to cropping systems and/or animal production requires learning of advanced cultivation methods and some support to ensure swift adoption [65]. The failure of extension services in poor African countries limits the possibility to scale up innovations in agroforestry for improved land use systems. Another structural limitation to bringing agroforestry adoption to scale can be seen in the limited investment in the sector compared to intensified farming systems, which has seen strong support during the post-colonial era, mostly for export cash crop (monocultures of groundnut, cocoa, cotton, among others).

At farm level, combining mitigation and adaptation in agroforestry to enhance the resilience of social and land use systems should be scrutinized in a context where the primary goal is to increase social and economic benefits through agriculture. Screening of priority activities needs

multifaceted analysis that responds first and foremost to basic local needs [65]. So if seen as a win-win approach under optimal land management practices, equal importance of mitigation efforts should be given to adaptation; and any mitigation strategies should demonstrate clear adaptation benefits. In the case of Africa, carbon sequestration should generally be considered a co-benefit of strategies to support sustainable livelihoods and adapt to climate change, rather than the other way around. Progress towards adapted and sustainable livelihoods may be measured by accumulation of assets, and mitigation measures should be mapped against these assets.

On the other hand, uncertainties related to future climates, land use and land cover, soil fertility in drier environments and pests and diseases pose challenges to the scaling up of agroforestry practices. The effects of climate change on agroforestry systems are not fully understood despite many efforts in modeling climate analogs and future climate impacts [66]. This raises questions on which trees and management options will be suitable in future climates and how to best minimize negative climate change impacts on farming systems [15]. There is, therefore, a need to better predict the range of climate variability to assess the short- and long-term impacts of changing temperature and rainfall on ecosystem suitability for current agroforestry practices [10]. Inversely, there is little knowledge on quantitative effects of trees on local and regional climate, and better documentation is needed on the interconnections related to water recycling and its association with evapotranspiration. Also, it is unclear how much deforestation can be limited by provision of ecosystem services such as wood energy from agroforestry landscapes.


Children and Armed Conflict Monthly Update – November 2020

Recommendations to the Security Council


Anti-balaka local defense militias, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and the former Séléka coalition are each listed in the Secretary-General’s (SG) 2020 annual report S/2020/525 on children and armed conflict (CAAC) for recruitment and use, killing and maiming, and rape and other forms of sexual violence. Of these, the LRA is also listed for abduction, and the former Séléka coalition and associated groups are also listed for attacks on schools and hospitals. In November, MINUSCA’s mandate is up for renewal, pursuant to SCR 2499 (2019). According to the SG’s October report S/2020/994, COVID-19 has led to verification challenges and a decrease in partners available to support the reintegration of children released from armed groups. During the reporting period, 13 children (two girls, 11 boys) were separated from the Mouvement Patriotique pour la Centrafrique (MPC), 22 children (three girls, 19 boys) were verified as associated with the Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de la Centrafrique (FPRC), and nine children escaped the LRA. The UN also documented conflict-related sexual violence affecting 39 girls. From January to September 2020, OCHA recorded 304 incidents impacting humanitarian workers in CAR, an increase compared to 2019. The Security Council should:

  • Renew MINUSCA’s child protection mandate, maintain current capacity in the child protection unit to fully deliver on this mandate, and ensure child protection continues to be prioritized as a cross-cutting issue, including through the national disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration program, security sector reform, and activities to promote the protection of civilians and rule of law;
  • Call for all parties to conflict to engage with the UN to sign and implement action plans to end and prevent all six grave violations against children; urge the MPC, the FPRC, and l’Unité pour la paix en Centrafrique (UPC) to fully and swiftly implement their respective action plans to end and prevent grave violations and release all children still in their ranks;
  • Condemn all attacks on protected healthcare and humanitarian personnel, and demand all parties immediately cease such attacks, and allow safe and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance to all children and other civilians in need;
  • Remind all parties that children — including those actually or allegedly associated with armed groups — should be treated primarily as victims, and urge the Government to promptly adopt a protocol for the handover of children associated with armed groups to civilian child protection actors;
  • Call on all parties to swiftly and fully implement the recommendations of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict elaborated in its fourth conclusions on the situation of children and armed conflict in CAR

COVID-19 pandemic – an African perspective


The recently emerged novel coronavirus, “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2)”, caused a highly contagious disease called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The virus was first reported from Wuhan city in China in December, 2019, which in less than three months spread throughout the globe and was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11th of March, 2020. So far, the ongoing pandemic severely damaged the world’s most developed countries and is becoming a major threat for low- and middle-income countries. The poorest continent, Africa with the most vulnerable populations to infectious diseases, is predicted to be significantly affected by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. Therefore, in this review we collected and summarized the currently available literature on the epidemiology, etiology, vulnerability, preparedness and economic impact of COVID-19 in Africa, which could be useful and provide necessary information on ongoing COVID-19 pandemics in the continent. We also briefly summarized the concomitance of the COVID-19 pandemic and global warming.


There are hundreds of viruses that belong to the coronavirus family. However, only six (229E, NL63, OC43, HKU1, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV) have been reported to cause mild to severe respiratory tract infections in humans [1]. Among them are severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) reported in November 2002 and middle east respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) reported in September 2012, which emerged in human population from animal reservoirs and caused severe respiratory illness with high mortality rates [2,3]. Once again, a novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) has emerged, and caused an infectious disease called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) [4]. The virus was first identified and reported from Wuhan city of China in December, 2019 [5]. The SARS-CoV-2 is highly contagious, spread globally in a short period of time, and was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020 [6]. As of 18th April, 2020, 10:00am CEST; WHO reported more than 2.1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 142,229 deaths in 213 countries, areas or territories [7]. The most-affected countries with more than 30,000 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 are the United States of America, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, China, Iran, Turkey, Belgium, the Russian Federation, Canada and Brazil [7]. However, the number of cases continues to rise throughout the globe and became a serious menace to public health.

COVID-19 is majorly affecting many countries all over the world, whereas Africa is the last continent to be hit by the pandemic. However, Africa is expected to be the most vulnerable continent where COVID-19 spreading will have a major impact [8]. The continent confirmed its first case of COVID-19 in Egypt on 14th of February, 2020, and from sub-Saharan Africa the first case was reported in Nigeria on 27th of February, in an Italian patient who flew to Nigeria from Italy on 25th of February, 2020 [9,10].

As of 18th April 2020, 10:00 am CEST; Africa CDC reported, 19,895 confirmed cases, including 1,017 deaths and 4,642 recoveries, from 52 African countries, while two countries (Comoros and Lesotho) were still virus-free [11]. Interestingly, most of the identified cases of COVID-19 in Africa have been imported from Europe and the United States, rather than from the original COVID-19 epicentre China [12].

The continent’s weak health care system and a large immunocompromised population owing to high prevalence of malnutrition, anemia, malaria, HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis and poor economic discipline, make it distinct from the other continents that have experienced COVID-19 to date [13]. Experts also anticipated that under these circumstances the pandemic in Africa could be challenging to control, and the consequences could be dismal [13]. On the other hand, there is no drug/vaccine currently available to treat COVID-19; therefore, implementation of precautionary measures to contain the spread of this virus is being practiced throughout the globe; which includes social distancing, isolation and quarantine, community containment, national lockdowns, and travel restrictions. So far, these measures are helping to control and reduced the spread of COVID-19; but subsequently hit the global economy and thereby pushing the nations towards recession [14,15]. African economies were already struggling when COVID-19 hit the continent; which could further amplify the economic crisis. A unique COVID-19 response needs to be developed for Africa, where all these issues which make the continent more vulnerable and different to the rest of the world, will be taken into consideration.

Aim of this review

Although there are numerous excellent research publications addressing this new menace, however this review aims to provide a comprehensive update of ongoing COVID-19 pandemics in Africa and highlighted the main topics which include; etiology, epidemiology, vulnerability, preparedness and economic impact of COVID-19 in African continent. It is therefore hoped that this work could be useful in addressing the continent’s challenges related to the outbreak and will become the benchmark reference for future studies.

Study selection

We searched and reviewed published work on COVID-19 from 1st January, 2020 to 18th of April, 2020. PubMed, ScienceDirect and Scopus were searched for research articles written on COVID-19 in English using the search words SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 and coronavirus. The search was done in duplicate by two different individuals for the reproducibility with exclusion criteria for non-English articles and non-COVID-19 papers. After deduplication and exclusion, 54 out of 71 published articles as on 18/04/2020 were included. Reports and updates from the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Health Organization African Region, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and from other authentic sources were added. The results were grouped and systematically presented in this review.

Etiology of COVID-19

The uncertainty about the SARS-CoV-2 origin is still an important aspect of this pandemic, and needs much attention to stop like ones in future. Initially there were reports that suggested the virus may have originated from bats, which are already known as a natural reservoir for various CoVs, including SARS-CoV-like and MERS-CoV-like viruses [16–20]. Upon phylogenetic analysis it has now been shown that there is a 96.2% sequence identity of SARS-CoV-2 with a coronavirus isolated from a bat (BetaCoV/RaTG13/2013) [21]. Furthermore, the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 also shares >80% and 50% sequence identity to SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV respectively [22,23]. Thus, these findings indicate that the COVID-19 belongs to genus β-CoVs that infects humans, bats and other wild animals [24]. Other reports also suggested the possibility of virus transmission from bats to humans through unknown intermediate hosts [25]. Forster and colleagues recently analysed 160 complete human SARS-Cov-2 genomes by using a phylogenetic network analysis, and came up with some interesting findings [26]. The results revealed three distinct “variants” of COVID-19, consisting of clusters of closely related lineages, which they label “A”, “B” and “C”. They found that type “A” is closest to the one discovered in bats and is the ancestor to all other variants. Most cases of the COVID-19 in the United States and Australia were type “A”. Type “B”, only separated by two mutations from the ancestor “A”, was prevalent in China and other East Asian countries. Type “C”, predominantly found in patients in European countries, showed very little linkage with Type “B” [26]. So far, the genomic data is not sufficient and clear to prove the true origin and transmission source of SARS-CoV-2. Studies even seem to contradict previous hypotheses, which considered Wuhan, the city in China, as the origin of COVID-19. However, more sequencing is needed, using samples from other wild animals such as turtles, pangolins and snakes, which may play a possible role as intermediate hosts to solve this puzzle and confirm the origin of SARS-CoV-2. Compared to the global 7,700 genome sequences of SARS-CoV-2, the African continent has just pooled 90 genome sequences for this virus [27]. Additionally these sequences are coming from only 5 out of 51 infected countries, leaving a data dark spot in the continent [27]. Considering the mutations of the virus and the importance of this data for vaccine developments, African countries need to contribute more to the global genomic data pool; otherwise Africans will be facing the same problem as with the Rotavirus vaccine. The vaccine was developed based on rotavirus strains predominantly found in Europe and North America for use against rotavirus infections. However, the vaccine exhibited efficacy variation, seems more effective in Europe and North America but less effective in Africa and is believed due to the circulation of different strain in the continent [27].

Epidemiology of COVID-19 in Africa

Starting from Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China (Original epicenter of COVID-19) and spreading around the globe in less than 3 months, the COVID-19 pandemic is considered the one among the biggest pandemics to humans [5,28]. As the pandemic is still ongoing, the number of countries involved, confirmed cases and mortality rates are changing every day. As the virus enters different countries at different time points, these countries are at different stages of the outbreak. With this complicity, true epidemiology is only possible at the end of this pandemic. As of 18th April, 2020, the novel SARS-CoV-2 has emerged in all seven continents and affects 213 countries and territories with 2,121,675 confirmed cases, and a mortality rate of 6.7% [7]. To date, the top three most-affected countries with COVID-19 include the United States of America (confirmed cases at 665,330 and 4.6% mortality), Spain (confirmed cases 182,816 and 10.5% mortality), and Italy (confirmed cases 168,941 and 13.1% mortality)[7].

With the currently available data, we attempted to monitor and track the epidemics of SARS-CoV-2 in the African continent. The African continent is the last one and least to be affected by COVID-19 pandemic to date [29]. As of 18th April, 2020, Africa reported 19,895 confirmed cases from 52 countries with a mortality rate of 5.1% [11]. First seen in Egypt on 14th of February 2020, the virus has now been detected in almost all the countries of Africa except Lesotho and Comoros [11]. Chronologically, Egypt was followed by Algeria, with its first case reported on 25th February, followed by Nigeria on 27th of February [30]. Apart from these three countries, the first cases in other African countries were only detected in March (Table 1) [11]. The most-affected countries so far are South Africa (confirmed cases = 2783, mortality = 1.8%), Egypt (confirmed cases=2844, mortality = 7.2%), Morocco (confirmed cases = 2564, mortality = 5.3%), Algeria (confirmed cases = 2418, mortality = 15.0%) and Cameroon (confirmed cases = 1016, mortality = 2.1%) [11]. However, due to inadequate testing capacity for COVID-19 the true number of cases may remain undetected, which makes it challenging to predict or conclude the true epidemiology of COVID-19 in the continent. Certainly, several major factors, such as late arrival of the pandemic, weak diagnostics including inadequate COVID-19 testing, lack of essential medical supplies and a large susceptible population will significantly affect and change the epidemiology of COVID-19 in the continent [13,31]. The epidemiological data of COVID-19 from the African continent are summarized in Table 1, which include: number of affected countries with confirmed cases, deaths and recovery cases [11].

Vulnerability and preparedness for COVID-19 in Africa

The COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call for Africa: the high burden of infectious diseases, weak health systems, poverty and the arrival of the winter “flu” season in Southern Africa, are some major factors which particularly make the continent one of the most vulnerable to this current pandemic. According to the Infectious Disease Vulnerability Index (IDVI) 2016, out of 25 countries most vulnerable to infectious diseases, 22 are in the African region [9]. The WHO Africa estimated that there are 26 million people infected with HIV, 2.5 million with tuberculosis, 71 million with hepatitis B or C and 213 million with malaria in the African region [32–35]. Moreover, the double burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes are also immensely significant in Africa, and all these conditions compromise the body’s immunity [36,37]. Therefore, it could be reasonably hypothesized that the majority of the African population, due to their immunocompromised conditions, will be at high risk for COVID-19.

A country’s healthcare capacity plays a vital role in COVID-19 management and control [38]. In comparison to the developed nations such as USA, the UK and China, which have advanced health care systems but are still struggling to cope with the current pandemic, the majority of African countries have a weaker healthcare sector [38–40]. The limited testing capacity, shortage of trained staff required for diagnostics and intensive care units (ICU), inadequate ventilators and ICU facilities (needed in severe cases of COVID-19), lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers and scarcity of funds for the health sector, are some of the continent’s core healthcare related issues, which make it more susceptible to the COVID-19 pandemic [38–41]. The other misfortune for Southern Africa is the arrival of winter, as all respiratory viruses spread more effectively in the winter; thus it is anticipated that the intensity of COVID-19 will increase in the coming winter months between May and September 2020 [42–44]. On the other hand, this shift in the seasons may become fortunate for northern hemisphere countries, where summer is coming and will likely decrease the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 [42].

As we are witnessing how the ongoing pandemic is hampering the world’s most developed countries which have advanced healthcare, a low disease burden and established economies; it will be interesting to see the impact of COVID-19 on low- and middle-income countries. Unfortunately most of the African countries fall into this category, therefore it may be challenging for them to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts have already predicted that the growth of the African continent will be significantly impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak [45–47]. However, the magnitude of the impact will depend on the management and control of COVID-19 within the respective countries. Recently, a modelling study based on the State Party Self-Assessment Annual Reporting (SPAR), Index and Infectious Disease Vulnerability Index (IDVI), measured the preparedness and vulnerability of African countries against COVID-19 importations from China [48]. Both indicators (SPAR and IDVI) ranged from 0 to 100, measure increasing capacity and decreasing vulnerability. The study reported that Egypt, Algeria and South Africa had the highest importation risk from China, with the SPAR scores of 87, 76, and 62 respectively, and have moderate to high capacity to respond to outbreaks, with IDVI scores of 53, 49, and 69 respectively [48]. Countries such as Nigeria and Ethiopia have moderate importation risk, with SPAR scores of 51 and 67 respectively, but high vulnerability with IDVI scores of 27 and 38 respectively. Sudan, Angola, Tanzania, Ghana, and Kenya also have similar moderate importation risk with variable levels of capacity (ranging from 34 to 75), and an overall low IDVI (<46), reflecting high vulnerability [48]. On a positive note, the demography of the African continent seems to be an advantage when compared to other COVID-19 affected regions. The median age in Africa is less than 20, that makes the continent the youngest in the world [38]. Only 4% of Africa’s population is older than 65, which are low as compared to 37% in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia and 29% in Europe and Northern America [49]. Current data suggests that COVID-19 affects older people severely, with higher mortality than the younger population, which showed only milder symptoms [38]. In addition, Africa is the last continent to be hit by COVID-19, and therefore gets some extra time with additional information for preparations to face the pandemic. Africa also had lessons to be learnt from other countries and from the previous outbreaks, to act urgently on specific weaknesses and implement strict measures of detection, prevention, and control to enhance preparedness for COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, several strategic measures, which include complete lockdowns, travel bans, closing of schools, companies, and offices, ban on large gatherings (including religious, sports, social and other events), systematic quarantines, increased testing capacity and strict infection control measures, are being implemented throughout the African continent to control the spread of COVID-19 [50]. Furthermore, on 5th February 2020, the African task force for coronavirus (AFCOR) was established by Africa CDC in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC) and the WHO, to step up the preparedness measures for COVID-19 closure [51]. The AFCOR aims to focus on six work streams: laboratory diagnosis and subtyping, surveillance including screening at points of entry and cross-border activities, infection prevention and control in healthcare facilities, clinical management of people with severe COVID-19, risk communication, supply-chain management and stockpiles. The measure breakthrough for preparedness is in terms of laboratories testing for SARS-CoV-2 in the African continent. On 6th of March 2020, Africa CDC reported that 43 African countries are now able to test for COVID-19, while as at February 2020, only two countries (Senegal and South Africa) were capable of diagnosing the virus [38]. The big support from the World Bank will also assist developing countries for COVID-19 preparedness and response. In Africa, immediate support of $82 million for Ethiopia and $47 million for the Democratic Republic of Congo have been approved [52]. These figures for other African countries are yet to be confirmed; however, there are big supports from several agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), philanthropists, funding agencies and banks to all the African nations, in order for them to be prepared for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemics. Nevertheless, it would not be ideal to suggest that this support will be enough to prepare these countries for this pandemic.

As discussed above, owing to several reasons, Africa is found to be at high risk for COVID-19 pandemic, with relatively low capacity to manage the health emergency. Therefore, urgent attention, support and action are required to fight and control the further spread of the ongoing pandemic.

Economic impact of COVID-19 in Africa

The initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic was all about clinical and epidemiological aspects however, the shift is now changing towards the global economy. The focus of effect of COVID-19 pandemics needs to shift to the developing nations, and particularly to African countries which rely mostly on developed countries. Economists had estimated Africa’s growth in 2020 at 3.9%, which can now drop to 0.4% (in the best case) to −3.9% (in the severely hit case) [45,46]. Experts also believe that growth in Sub-Saharan Africa may fall to between −2 and −5% in comparison to 2.4% in 2019, with a risk of the first recession in the last 25 years [47]. The major factors which may affect the African economy related to COVID-19 are:

  1. Reduction of importation of Chinese goods to the level that it inflates the African markets. This will have a further impact on the small scale traders of developing markets, and will increase the prices of local commodities.
  2. Decreasing oil consumption due to travel bans, border closures, social distancing and lock downs lowering down the demand for oil. The budget of some of the African oil-producing countries such as Nigeria, Angola, Algeria, Ghana and others, is dependent upon crude oil pricing, which has been badly hit by this pandemic, thereby impacting the GDP of these countries [41,53]. This could however have a positive impact on oil-importing countries.
  3. African mining industry: The mining sector is China’s top most interest for investing in Africa than any other big economy. Travel restrictions, shutdowns and port closures have resulted in decreasing demand for steel, iron ore, lithium, and cobalt [41]. Alone in South Africa, the mining industry employs around 420,000 people and thousands of them are working underground which suggests that the mining work environment is more exposed to pandemic and can become a catalyst for spreading the COVID-19 [54]. As such, the African mining sector faces an unavoidable hit from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, even though there is still much uncertainty as to how much and for how long the sector will be impacted.
  4. Reduction of tourism: The major economic sector of many African countries such as South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania is tourism, which is negatively affected due to COVID-19, thereby affecting the economies of these countries [41,53].
  5. Withdrawal of investors: Developing markets already taste the bitterness where investors have already fled, with the largest capital flow ever recorded [53]. Foreign direct investments have already been declined due to delays or cancellation of several revenue boosting projects. Also, the flow of aid and other assistance projects have been stopped, as the donor countries are themselves struggling with the same pandemic situation.
  6. The shift of budgets from other sectors to the health sector is a timely need, and this will cause a further decline in the economic growth of these countries.
  7. The lower revenue will in turn reduce the tax rates; which will badly impact on the fiscal revenues of poor countries in Africa [53].

All these factors will put governments under extreme pressure in preparing for the post-crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts are calculating around 20 million job losses, which will further increase the unemployment rates of African countries [53]. Increase in unemployment could possibly lead to social unrest and increasing crime rates in the countries with a history of sectarian violence.

Concomitance of COVID-19 pandemic and global warming

Although there is no scientific evidence so far to show any direct link between global warming and the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists are giving opinions that these two run parallel to each other. Being a zoonotic virus (bat species suspected to be SARS-CoV-2 virus reservoir), there are several reasons to connect the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change. Global warming along with other associated factors such as habitat destruction, human encroachment, modernization of farming, etc., have been reported to drive the emergence of zoonotic diseases [55]. In a study by Naicker, a link between the climate changes with the zoonotic diseases outbreaks such as West Nile fever, Chikungunya fever and Lyme disease has been well described [56]. Climate changes have been reported to impact pathogens selection and resistance, hosts ecology and immunity, as well as vectors ecological niches and capacity; with more potential influence on vector-borne and zoonotic diseases [57]. In addition, glaciers which are hidden sources of numerous pathogens especially viruses, are melting due to globally increasing temperatures and the resident pathogens are therefore getting a wakeup call [58]. Melting glaciers are liberating these pathogens, including those which are new to science [59]. Climate change is also associated with deforestation and encroachment into animal habitats, which forced several wild species to migrate and thereby putting these species in close contact with humans and other animals [60]. Unplanned migrations also increases the stress levels in these species, leading to immunocompromised conditions, which subsequently increase the tendency of increased risk of infections and increased viral replication [61]. Despite all these reasons, there is no concrete evidence to prove the claims of linking the two to each other. However as COVID-19 is still unfolding, the underlying links between global warming and the spread of this virus may be unveiled.

As of the current date, China is the world’s largest CO2 emitter followed by the United States the European Union, the Indian sub-continent and the Russian Federation [62,63]. On the other hand, the African continent is the lowest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, with very low per capita CO2 emissions compared with other continents [62]. According to the World Resources Institute, Africa has been responsible for less than 0.01% of all emissions [62]. Despite being the lowest contributor, the African continent is the worst sufferer of any climate change related adversity, ranging from economic growth and sustainable development to infectious diseases [64]. However, in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic the trend is different; where African continent is the least affected so far. It is far too early to reach a conclusion, as experts are warning that the rise of infection peak in Africa is yet to materialize. The origination and spread of SARS-CoV-2 virus in the biggest CO2 emitting countries is higher than in African countries [7,29]; which could be mere coincidence. Within the African continent, a similar trend was observed with South Africa being the major contributor in total greenhouse gas emissions and higher number of confirmed COVID-19 cases [7,62]. All the figures, support being optimistic at this stage about developing some models which can identify the links between climate change and current and future pandemics. It is also believed that this pandemic will offer an opportunity to understand the further consequences of climate change and related pandemics.


As of now, COVID-19 continues to spread globally, with increasing morbidity and mortality, with some control in the African continent compared to the other parts of the world. The swift actions against this pandemics imposed by the governments have been effective so far. However, as the majority African population is living from hand to mouth, these measures cannot sustain for long. Some countries including South Africa and Ghana have already started lifting or relaxing these restrictions due to the high impact on their economies. Therefore besides these restrictions other mitigation strategies, to improve economies and to provide basic benefits to public, need to be implemented by the governments. Based on past experiences, there is a scope of suppressing transmission of COVID-19, provided governments and the public will change their behaviour towards this virus as they did previously for Ebola, HIV, Polio and other outbreaks. However, it comes as no surprise that Africans can’t confront this alone, and therefore global support in any form can assist Africa to step ahead of this pandemic.


Shabir Ahmad Lone Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, School of Pathology, Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa